What is the worst thing that could happen?
I used to ask myself this question when I was younger, thinking of myself as a pessimist. Later on in life, I understood that it is actually a very stoic question to ask, and I have started sharing it also with people who seek my advice or are just kind enough to share their experience with me.
Fear should not stop us making the World a better place.
Most often, the difference between what we fear and what really is dangerous is immense. And so, what is the worst thing that could happen? is a great question to ask yourself when you start feeling some unrest in your body because you are in a situation that is not familiar to you. Or when you anticipate some crisis that might, or might not, come.
There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality. I am not speaking with you in the Stoic strain but in my milder style. For it is our Stoic fashion to speak of all those things, which provoke cries and groans, as unimportant and beneath notice; but you and I must drop such great-sounding words, although, heaven knows, they are true enough. What I advise you to do is, not to be unhappy before the crisis comes; since it may be that the dangers before which you paled as if they were threatening you, will never come upon you; they certainly have not yet come.
Before the fear to speak up at the next meeting with senior managers stops you from sharing your idea or your concern, ask yourself what the worst thing that could happen is.
Before you avoid going to that place that you like, fearing to meet that unpleasant person, or to find yourself in an unpleasant situation, ask yourself what the worst thing that could happen is.
Before you surrender giving that speech, or sending that email, or making that call, or showing up, because sure, things could go wrong, ask yourself what the worst thing that could happen is.
When you give a shape, a smell, a contour, a name to what you fear, you will find you are unstoppable.