Premeditatio Malorum (The Pre-Meditation of Evils)

At war with yourself

When you find yourself stuck and unable to move forward – but desperately wanting to – realise that this is war.

It is a war between your higher, rational self, and your lower, irrational self. Between the rider and the horse.

In war, the victor is not normally she who acts rashly, or who denies reality. She is usually the one who takes a step back, takes a deep breath, and accepts the situation as holistically as she can.

That is to say – tempting as it is – it’s probably not going to help you to simply deny that you’re afraid and try to barrel through with action.

I have a better solution, and one that has stood the test of time.

Premeditatio Malorum

There is only one reason why you are stopping yourself from moving forward, and that is because you’re afraid of what might happen if you do.

Not what will happen – what might happen. And every second that you stall, you give into your fear of what might happen.

You need to look what you’re afraid of squarely in the face. And doing it all in your head is not always that helpful – our minds have a tendency to circle and ruminate rather than “think.”

So get out a piece of paper, and on it, write down in bullet points every single thing that could happen, if you did what you intend to do.

Don’t judge the list – it doesn’t matter how likely something is or isn’t. All that matters is spilling out onto the page – getting it out of the subjective medium of your mind and onto the objective medium of words on a page.

When you start running out of ideas, stop. Look at your list.

Go through it, bullet-point by bullet-point, asking yourself “If this did happen, what would I do?”

I don’t do this exercise often enough. But every time I do, I realise that swimming around my head were dozens – sometimes hundreds – of nagging little fears, and for every single one, the only answer I can honestly give is “I’d handle it.”

Because it’s true. I would. And so would you. You can handle anything. Hopefully you won’t have to handle the worst things you can imagine. But if you had to, you would.

Best of luck.

CAVEAT: Don’t just skip the exercise and say “I’d handle anything, me, I’m tough as nails…” You need to identify the things you’re afraid of happening first, and then realise one-by-one that you’d handle even the worst of them. Only that which is brought into the consciousness can be dealt with, not that which is allowed to remain unconscious.

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