I have caught myself latching onto questions with an unreasonably existential scope at times when I am afraid. Sometimes I am sure that my extrapolation is based on data but rather it is based on anecdotes, or fear.
When I consider the possibility of failure I may see it as apocalyptic despite having risen out of big failures that I thought would be the end of me.
When I experience a conflict, I may wonder – Is it all a waste? I may experience a darkly coloured and even despondent disappointment rather than an acknowledgement that we are all human and this is normal.
Questions like this reek of extrapolating our experiences to ultimate magnitudes:
If X happens, it is over. Surely the world will end and what will I do?
What if this is my only choice and I blow this up?
Is this the path for me?
Is this the job for me?
Is this the programme for me?
Is this the city for me?
Do you ever find yourself asking these large scale global questions? When caught in these cycles it becomes almost impossible to see your agency and another way out.
I have started to see that these questions are not the most insightful ones I can ask. It is like forcing yourself to solve an equation with too many unknowns. Some things need to be known by participation. Some by trial and error. Some by seeking new information.
Sometimes relying simply on my mind without waiting to get new information or paying attention to my needs is futile. And fear can be a self fulfilling prophecy that biases the new experience without giving it a chance to reveal itself.
So it helps to backtrack the premises of your question so you can see what is truly at stake. More insightful questions/actions:
– instead of weigh only the cost of failure, try to weigh the cost of regret. This allows the comparison to be more balanced.
– instead of hyper-extrapolating one issue to a global and existential scope, one might ask – What does this trigger in me and why? How can I get more information? Where am I being dogmatic, colouring my judgment with my assumptions or limited experiences?
– what if this conflict is not the end of this relationship but rather will make it better? What if there is no existential consequence, and this is just a normal part of relating with friends/family?
– so what if this is not the best fit for me? Who said it needs to be the ultimate path or that there is such a thing? And were there to be such a thing, who says I cannot readjust my route and take my lessons with me? Meanwhile, how can I ask for what I need? What can I learn? How do I make the best of this right now?
– if this does not work out is it really the end of the world? When else has the world ended for me and yet I rose up stronger? And if the world as I know it will end, who says that is necessarily a bad thing? What if it leads to a new world with new insights and maybe even a more suitable version of myself? And who even said the world will end, what if I’m simply faced with an invitation to develop my character and self knowledge?
Now that the existential weight is off your shoulders, you are in a place where you are aware of your agency and are asking questions that you can actually do something with, in relation to your situation.