In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal advice from almost 2,000 years ago about how to neutralize fear and anxiety.
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Now, let’s talk about the advice from almost 2,000 years ago on how to neutralize fear and anxiety.
How do you respond to bad news, a threat or some forecast of impending doom?
Do you respond with anxiety, obsessiveness and paralyzing fear?
Perhaps you respond by visualizing the perfect outcome or, perhaps you live in denial and you run and hide, hoping it won’t happen and believing that the problem doesn’t even exist.
None of these approaches empower you to properly handle the situation nor to avoid a bad outcome or to learn to handle the worst possible outcome!
The secret to responding to bad news, a threat or some other potentially painful outcome originates with a Stoic philosopher and Roman Senator, Seneca.
Seneca gave advice that today might be perceived as counter-intuitive and yet is powerful.
Lucilius was a civil servant who was panicking after learning of a lawsuit against him which threatened to end his career; Seneca gave him this advice in a letter:
“You may expect that I will advise you to picture a happy outcome, and to rest in the allurements of hope…. I am going to conduct you to peace of mind through another route…If you wish to put off all worry, assume that what you fear may happen will certainly happen in any event; whatever the trouble may be, measure it in your own mind, and estimate the amount of your fear. You will thus understand that what you fear is either insignificant or short-lived.”
Seneca was not advising Lucilius to dwell and ruminate on the worst possible outcome, but rather, he was telling him that the worst possible outcome may occur and to be prepared for it and to understand that he is strong and can survive it.
Think of your fearful thoughts; how do they paralyze you?
Instead focus on accepting the worst possible outcome while also seeking ways to avoid it, but again, resigning yourself to the possibility that it can happen, and knowing that you will be okay – no matter what!
Seneca made the point to Lucilius: “If you lose this case, can anything more severe happen to you than being sent into exile or led to prison? Hope for that which is utterly just, and prepare yourself for that which is utterly unjust.”
Seneca reinforces the critical perspective that there are things beyond our control – fires, illness, evil and death – and to beware of faulty thinking i.e. why would you think that ‘this could never happen’ when it has already happened to others?
“Nothing ought to be unexpected by us. Our minds should be sent forward in advance to meet all problems and we should consider, not what is wont to happen, but what can happen.”
Seneca also highlighted the truth that all things are ephemeral, and that our greatest fear is that of death. Seneca’s words from almost 2,000 years ago, written around 62 – 65 AD, have an eerie significance today:
“All of those cities, of whose magnificence and grandeur you hear today, the very traces will be blotted out by time… Not only does that which has been made with hands totter to the ground… nay, the peaks of mountains dissolve… places which once stood far from the sight of the sea are now covered by the waves. The mighty power of fires has eaten away the hills… and has levelled to the ground peaks which were once most lofty – the sailor’s solace and his beacon. The works of nature herself are harassed; hence we ought to bear with untroubled minds the destruction of cities. They stand but to fall.”
In summary, Seneca empowers others with the philosophy that we can end worry by learning to accept that there are things beyond our control, we should prepare for the worst, do our best to avoid it, and, understand that we are stronger than we think. We can control our minds and thoughts and remember that the worst is survivable!
If you need help to change your thoughts and overcome programmed anxiety and obsessiveness, book a one-on-one session with me.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.