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Now, while I don't pretend to be an expert on all of humanity, I do believe that it is primarily a way to prevent ourselves from looking foolish. There are few things in life more aversive than the idea that you didn't think it through or were, in some way, naive about the potential downsides. It seems as though we spend most (if not all) of our energy contemplating why something won't work or envisioning the worst-case scenario, which really means we spend very little time contemplating why something will work or envisioning the best-case scenario.
The future, from where I sit, is really an illusion that we construct based upon our past experiences, successes, and failures. Of course, some of those experiences are valid and do provide us with the necessary background to not repeat any mistakes we've made. That said, we still can't predict the future and don't know for sure that something will or won't work.
Think about it for a moment...do I not box myself in when I predict something won't work? I mean, to predict failure, only to then try something and succeed would prove myself to be wrong...we don't typically like that. However, to prove you were right you would have to try - and fail - at something that other people have succeeded at doing...we don't typically like that either. It's a lose-lose scenario.
What if we spent an equal amount - or better yet more - energy contemplating the best-case scenario. Since we can't predict the future and don't know for sure that something will/won't work, why not develop a positive mindset of possibility and success. Why not, at the very least, put yourself in the frame of mind that best reflects what it is that you actually want. Predicting failure is negative; negative thoughts produce negative outcomes. Will it succeed or fail? Who knows, but envisioning the best-case scenario will at least create within you the kind of conditions you wish to produce.