Do you believe in the power of positive thinking? If so, the ancient idea known as “premeditatio malorum” may seem strange to you. The Latin phrase means “premeditation of evils,” and it’s basically the opposite of positive thinking. Instead of focusing on the good in life and everything that you want to happen, you focus on how things could go very, very wrong.
It may sound like a bummer, but it can actually be practical and surprisingly empowering. After all, things do have a tendency to go wrong. If you acknowledge this fact of life, you can prepare. And because injury and illness are two of the ways things tend to go wrong, buying disability insurance is one practical way to prepare.
Taking a Page from the Stoics
Back in October, skeletons, tombstones and other morbid Halloween decorations were everywhere. At some point, you might have come across the Latin phase “memento mori.” Translated into English, it means, “Remember you will die.” It’s a phrase that’s popular with the Stoics, philosophers known for their no-nonsense approach to life. You will die, so you’d better not waste your time.
A lot of people try to avoid thinking about mortality, but not the Stoics. Stoics also know that death isn’t the only bad thing that can happen. You could get sick. You could get injured. You could lose your job. You could lose your house. According to Stoic philosophy, it’s important to accept that life may not always go the way you want. Bad things happen every day, and you’re not immune to misfortune. The practice of premeditatio malorum helps you remember this.
Preparing for the Worst
The point of premeditatio malorum isn’t to make you depressed. The concept is supposed to help steel you for the future. It’s also a good way to motivate yourself to prepare for the worst.
Seneca, a famous Stoic philosopher, once wrote, “Everyone approaches courageously a danger which he has prepared himself to meet long before … But, contrariwise, the unprepared are panic-stricken even at the most trifling things.”
In other words, if you aren’t prepared for bad things, you won’t be able to cope when they happen. If you are prepared, you’ll be able to face whatever life throws at you.
It’s not just ancient philosophers who feel this way. According to Psychology Today, Fortune 500 companies, startups, and the Harvard Business Review have embraced the negative visualization technique behind premeditatio malorum.
Ask Your Clients to Think About the Worst-Case Scenario
Your clients are probably focused on the great life they’re trying to build: the family they’re creating, the home they’re buying, and the retirement they’re planning. Hopefully, life will go exactly according to their plans.
But many people aren’t that lucky.
Ask your clients to imagine their future if – like 1.6 million Americans every year – they are diagnosed with cancer. Ask them to imagine what will happen if they can’t work. Ask them what they will do if they are denied Social Security disability insurance – because the majority of Social Security disability applications are rejected – and their work-based long-term disability insurance benefits aren’t enough to cover both the medical bills and the regular expenses.
Then ask them the most important question – do they want to do something about it?
We can’t control everything, but we can take steps to protect ourselves against common misfortunes. For anyone who depends on a paycheck, this includes securing paycheck protection.
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