Reverse Paranoia

Do You Have This Future Neurosis?

“I find it easier to be the result of the past than to be the cause of the future.” 

~ Ashleigh Brilliant

I am re-posting a blog from 2015 for new readers or previous readers who have a memory like mine. 

A future neurosis is a disability while trying to create your future. When it comes to the future, it is said that there are three kinds of people: those who make it happen, those who let it happen, and those who wonder what happened. Which kind are you? Which kind do you want to be?

Future neurosis is a neurosis that inhibits your ability and your willingness to participate in being the cause of the future. In 1993 I identified and published four of these neuroses in an article titled “Future Sense*.”  And this blog is a short recap of one — Reverse Paranoia.

Paranoia is the belief that someone is following you and is out to get you. Reverse Paranoia is the belief that you are following someone who is out to lead you. This is the leadership delusion, the fallacy that a “white knight” will lead you to the promised land.

Reverse paranoiacs not only want a leader, they want a visionary leader who will also imagine the promised land for them. We don’t need a visionary leader as much as we need respect for the vision.

By definition the future doesn’t exist. Or you could say the future exists right behind your eyes, in your mind’s eye — if you use your imagination, if you can visualize the future you desire. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when thinking about the future, we often encounter disabilities that interfere with our thinking. We want someone or something else to create our future, right before our eyes.

Reverse paranoia is a disability because it gives away personal responsibility and ignores the need to develop the capacity of imagining a desirable future and creating it. Reverse paranoia leads to reactive behavior — following the lead of others — rather than to proactive behavior — becoming one’s own leader. The cure for this neurosis is taking charge of making your future happen: imagining desirable futures, visualizing a positive role for yourself, contemplating them actually happening, and then being a participant in creating the one you want.

The bottom line for this blog: 

Your image of the future may be the most important factor in determining what your future will be.

* “Future Sense,” THE FUTURIST, Sept-Oct. 1993, The World Future Society, The other three neuroses: Future Phobia, Paradigm Paralysis and Info-mania.

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