I read somewhere, recently (perhaps in Seth Godin’s blog) that anxiety is merely experiencing the emotions associated with future, imagined failure, in the present. That’s an interesting thought. We don’t seem to have a way of describing the emotional experience of future, imagined success, in the present. There doesn’t seem to be any prescription medicines for the condition either. Interesting, that.
We’re all so obsessed by failure and the shame and embarrassment that go with it, to think that maybe something we intend to do will work out really well. Perhaps we’ll encounter a miracle. If we imagine the best, instead of the worst, of outcomes, what feeling will replace the anxiety?
Some people say it will be hubris or an unrealistic sense of your own worth and an inflated evaluation of your own achievements. Some say you might get a big head. I think the balance is too far the other way. We’re so convinced that everything we attempt will end badly we get too scared to attempt things.
What if in making your painting, or exhibiting your art, or publishing your e-Book, or recording and writing your next album, it will be received by a grateful public that will pour adulation and acclaim upon you? What if your unique approach is exactly what the world has been waiting for? What if you, alone, can say what everybody else is thinking, but in such a lucid, accessible and entertaining way, that you become the spokesman for a generation. What if you are the one that will set the trend and shape the zeitgeist? How do you know that your art work won’t be the one that changes everything, for the better, the way you seldom dared to hope, but fervently wished?
Is this a form of wish craft, or of bringing forth manifestations in line with your dreams? I have no idea. All I know is that if you expect a miracle, sometimes they’re granted. Perhaps not every time. Your work could be met with indifference and obscurity, but if you keep at it and make better and better art with each attempt, all the while comforted by the knowledge that at some point, they’re going to absolutely love it, then at least you won’t have to deal with the debilitating anxiety.
I don’t know what the word would be for a feeling opposite to anxiety, but which allows you to envisage a place and a time in the future where the fruits of your labours have paid off handsomely and where you are loved and admired for what you have made. It’s like some sort of magical “happy place” or a projection into a future that is comfortable and the way you want it to be. What it isn’t, is worrisome. It might even be encouraging and inspirational.
We could all stand to live with a little less anxiety, I think.