How do you prepare yourself for what might be a large, perhaps even life-changing, disappointment? First, ask yourself if worrying really helps. If your anxiety motivates you to take action that can affect the outcome, then it might be useful. Balance any agonizing with some sense of hope, as long as your confidence is under control. You won’t guard yourself against pain by trying to feel it ahead of time.
Feeling your misery in advance of the news also isn’t helpful because we aren’t very good at predicting future emotions, as extensive research from Dan Gilbert, Tim Wilson, George Loewenstein, and Daniel Kahneman has shown.
We tend to overestimate the intensity of negative feelings, like sadness, anger, and frustration, and we think we’re going to experience them longer than we actually do. Researchers call this “affective forecasting,” and the reality is that negative events usually prove to be less intense emotionally and the bad feelings are more transient that we expect.