Projecting a future is not productive

When Charles was using, way before he was addicted, I had a habit of projecting future scenarios.

After any police incident, I would then worry that he would rob a bank and end up in prison. In my scenario, he wouldn’t get into a good college because of a felony, have a hard time finding a job and a place to live. Since he was so thin and cute, he would end up someone’s bitch in prison.  What if he ended up a porn star?  I projected all kinds of batshit crazy future scenarios, none of which ever happened. I’d think about something and my imagination would run wild.

Like I needed to create more worry by inventing things that had not happened? How was all this projecting helping me? Was it making me more prepared? More educated? More compassionate? The answer to that is no.

It was just creating stomach ulcers and sleepless nights. I had to work on it in order to stop myself and over time I got better at putting on the brakes and scolding myself. Even laughing at myself when I’d get carried away. “What are you going to worry about next? That he is attacked by a polar bear?”

It was in Families Anonymous that I realized how utterly unproductive this was.  It had become a habit and I was making myself crazy with it. I still do this in grief sometimes and have to tell myself to stop crawling into that rabbit hole. Like I need additional pain and things to cry about I have to make things up?

When I do, I always reflect on this passage that we read every single Families Anonymous group meeting.

The following passage, Helping, is from ©Families Anonymous, Inc


“…….Exhaustion is the result when I use my energy in mulling over the past with regret or in trying to figure ways to escape a future that has yet to arrive. Projecting an image of the future—and anxiously hovering over it for fear that it will or it won’t come true—uses all my energy and leaves me unable to live today. Yet living today is the only way to have a life….”

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked mental health speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to addiction and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational mental health keynotes, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, anxiety, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Mental Health Speakers Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

2 thoughts on “Projecting a future is not productive”

  1. We call it disasterizing…I still do it. I now have no children and will never have any grandchildren. I will have no one to take care of me when I am old. My husband will die and I will be all alone….

    1. That is such a good phrase!

      My great aunt worried about that, too, Gray. She lost her only son to bone cancer, the only instance of cancer in our family at all. She and my grandmother moved in together in their senior years. And my aunt and mother took care of her.

      I can understand your feelings and your fears.

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