As part of my Stoic practice, I occasionally engage in visualising something dear to me being unexpectedly taken. I find this difficult. For the obvious reason that when I ‘get it right’ I experience an almost tangible sense of loss, which challenges my emotional resilience (which is, of course, the point). Perhaps less obviously though, it’s because I feel that whatever happens I will adjust and overcome.
I’ve experienced poverty first hand (acute poverty – the ‘can I eat today’ kind). Unfortunately I’ve been privy to horror and deprivation of armed conflict. There’s a list of things that I needn’t document, but the point is that a lot of bad things have already happened to me and I’m still ticking. I had a mental breakdown and the recovery from that was like no other struggle I’ve faced; I’m still ticking.
If I understand the purpose of negative visualisation correctly, it’s to foster an appreciation of what we have while accepting that it might go so we don’t become too attached. I find that a regular gratitude practice much more readily achieves at least most of that goal. I go to bed feeling pleased to be alive and to have those things in my life that otherwise might easily be taken for granted.
Practising gratitude comes very easily to me now. It certainly didn’t three years ago and delighted with how this has changed.