Defined Words: anticipate, anxiety
Imagine you’re holding onto a large cake. Now imagine that you let go of the cake. What happens next? The cake falls and splats on the ground. You haven’t had the actual experience of dropping a large cake on the ground but you can picture the splat perfectly in your mind.
You are currently synapsing visual information of a cake and your understanding of gravity and physics in order to predict what would happen next. You can anticipate the coming events using only information that you currently have. The more detailed your understanding of the world is, the more accurate your anticipation.
You are able to look back into your past experiences in order to see a trend and predict what will happen next based on that trend. If you notice the sky gets darker before it rains, you will be able to know that rain is likely to come when you see the sky darken.
You are now able to predict the future, and even watch that future unfold in your mental plane. You can imagine the raindrops falling from the clouds, dripping from branches or buildings. You can even imagine the rain ending and the sun peeking through the clouds. You can create all of this before you feel the first drop of rain.
Anticipation and completion work together to benefit the Organism. Let’s use a simple example of hearing a rustle in some nearby bushes. Completion will encourage you to investigate the noise. Anticipation will create a few likely scenarios of what could have caused the noise.
While anticipating, your completion leads you to continue in a scenario until you have reached a reasonable end. Let’s say you anticipate a rodent to have made the noise. Your completion leads you to think of that rodent as food and you will plan out a way to catch it and eat it.
Meanwhile, another neural path anticipates the noise was caused by a large cat hunting you. Your completion will lead you to plan to run away or fight. In both cases, your anticipation and subsequent completion allow you to experience multiple scenarios so that you are well “practiced” for reality. All of these synapses are forming nearly instantaneously.
You are a human and your brain is much more developed than our closest animal relative. You have the ability to anticipate hundreds, even thousands, of possible scenarios based on every stimulus that you encounter. Fear developed as a way to keep the Organism safe. Sometimes you can anticipate a scenario will head in a dangerous direction and the thought of danger stimulates your fear.
When you are able to conceive of a scenario with fear, you have given yourself a reason to avoid that scenario. Because our brains can work so quickly, we can anticipate many scenarios very quickly. If many of those scenarios involve fear, you will likely keep thinking of new scenarios that avoid that fear. However, your infinitely creative brain is sure to come up with other possible fearful scenarios. When your anticipation is constantly accessing your fear, we call that anxiety.
Our evolutionary path has given us the ability to not only live in the present moment and remember the past, but to predict the future as well. The universe works in a specific way and you can learn most of the basics. That means you have the ability to create millions of possible scenarios and watch them play out based on the rules that you already understand. The more you know about the rules, the more accurate your anticipation will be. Educate yourself and you can see the future!