Could the worst be the best?

The other day, I had a weird sense of dread come into my afternoon.

It wasn’t unfamiliar.

I almost immediately recognized the feeling as a response to several thoughts I was having about how life might be unfolding, and having an opinion about outcomes and what was “better” or “worse”.

Most people have had these kinds of thoughts before.

If “it” goes like “x” then I’ll be happy (“it” being a relationship, a conversation, a job, a goal, a plan, some kind of journey, even a vacation).

If “it” goes like “y” then I’ll be unhappy.

In my mind I pictured the upcoming Year of Inquiry program collapsing and everyone enrolled changing their mind. I also pictured a relationship with a family member that feels uncertain and distant. And another old friend who keeps asking to get together and I keep finding reasons not to. I also felt an intense sorrow about a very dear friend who has cancer.

So many images pouring into the present moment about what might happen….sooner or later.

Images that look like things going the way I do NOT want them to go.

Having these images appear in the mind can create fear, sadness, discouragement, and dread for sure.

But can I absolutely know any of these things underway….whether the upcoming year long program, or my family, or my distant friend, or the friend suffering from cancer….

….can I absolutely know something dreadful will happen in the future with any of them?

It would be dreadful if everyone in YOI suddenly decided to withdraw, it would be dreadful if she never spoke to me again for the rest of our lives, it would be dreadful if we got together and he was clingy or critical of me or demanding, it would be dreadful if he dies.

Sometimes, the pile of images in the mind all gathered together make it extra-dreaded.

But can I absolutely know something dreadful will happen, with anything, anytime, anywhere in the future?

Ummmm. Wouldn’t it be denial to say “no”? Because bad and terrible things could happen. They do sometimes.


But can I know with an absoluteness for All Time that how it goes is actually dreadful….that is, dread-filling, dread-worthy?

By definition in the dictionary, the word “dread” means to be afraid of, worry about, be anxious about, have forebodings about,

be terrified by, tremble/shudder at, shrink from, recoil from, quail at/before, flinch, get cold feet.
I can’t know what will happen. I don’t know if what will happen, even if it felt dreadful, wouldn’t change or morph into something else. I also notice “dread” can only arrive when I’m anticipating something in the future, not something NOW.
How do I react when I feel dread?
I think I can’t handle it. I try to get happy. I desire distraction. I tell myself there’s nothing to worry about quickly, without really doing inquiry. I see pictures of all the dreadful possibilities wafting through my head.
I might even think to myself “Jeez, what is your freakin’ problem? Aren’t you over this dread thing by now??!”
I know I used to eat from one end of the city to the other, when I felt dread long ago. I ate frantically. Some people drink, or smoke, or use drugs, or do other activities to get away from dread. I want to watch a spiritual movie, something uplifting, something hopeful.
So who would you be without this belief that there’s something dreadful coming?
What a strange and unusual question. I lived my entire life for so long with the automatic belief there would always be dreadful things to deal with, and I must avoid them, or try to make sure they didn’t happen.
But without the belief in a fearful and dreadful event happening in the future, I feel my breath, my fingers typing these words, I hear the dryer going in the kitchen, I hear the bang-bang of construction happening nearby on my street, I see the gorgeous cherry leaves outside the window in the sun.
I notice silence, and life force, and nothing more, really, in this moment.
There is no failed program, or failed family relationship, or failed friendship, or death coming for my friend. Not the way I think it is. It will go however it goes, and I can’t ever know what it will actually be like, until it happens.
Turning the thought around: something wonderful will happen.
Couldn’t this be just as true, or truer?
How about finding examples? Can I see images of the very things I was dreading being wonderful events? Or events that I can handle quite easily? Or events that are positively life-changing for the future?
This doesn’t mean seeing the alternate “wonderful” outcomes for the same worries (although that could be fun, too) like imagining a program of so many awesome people in YOI it’s bursting with success, or hugging my long-estranged family member, or having a fabulous conversation with my old friend, or seeing the cancer go away for my other friend.
This is holding those images I think of as so frightening, and considering if there are any ways they are not dread-worthy….to see if they too could be wonderful.
How could it be interesting, heart-breaking, powerful, beautiful, life-changing….wonderful in it’s own strange way, if something went the “bad” way I think it could?
As Byron Katie says frequently, “if it’s a friendly universe, why would “x” (insert scary thing) happen?”
“If there was something other than gratitude in my mind, I would have the opportunity to question the thoughts that were causing me discomfort. The worst thing that can happen always turns out to be the best thing that can happen.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself
I can see in this moment, nothing dreadful is happening, and I remember right now that everything I’ve ever experienced that I’ve considered scary or awful I’ve survived. And even if I hadn’t, how would I know for sure it was dreadful?
The world is full of many events and experiences and relationships. I sometimes don’t like them, but this work isn’t about making myself like them. It’s about noticing what’s true in this moment, and not joining in the argument with what is, could be, will be, was.
Without that argument, I notice the dread fades away, and life is an immense mix of feelings, learning, thinking, noticing, being. And I really have no idea what’s going on.
I notice when I believe “something wonderful will happen” this present moment gets lighter, funnier, not really that intense.
“If there was something other than gratitude in my mind, I would have the opportunity to question the thoughts that were causing me discomfort. The worst thing that can happen always turns out to be the best thing that can happen.” ~ Byron Katie in A Mind At Home With Itself
Much love,

P.S. Anyone who missed it and wants an overview of the upcoming YOI program, listen here: All About Year of Inquiry. Just a few spots left. Program starts with Orientation Sept 5th and Sept 7th, live calls start Sept 12th.

2 Replies to “Could the worst be the best?”

  1. Hi Grace just wanted you that I so often resonate with what you say. We are all connected. Sometimes {not often} I get it and when I do I can sit back and let go. Love your blogs. Thats really what I wanted to say. Lesley

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