Future-Tripping

I often have to slow down and ask myself: “What’s the rush?” “Why am I so eager to get somewhere else?” “What’s pushing me to want to escape?” An objective outsider might suggest that my life appears to be on the right track; but for me, I’m riddled with thoughts about what I “should” or “could” be doing differently and better. Do you have similar types of thoughts or images?

Slowing down and asking ourselves these types of questions, can help us to respect and to observe more closely our present situations, while gaining a better understanding of why we often think and live in the future. Our efforts to be somewhere else, to be someone different, to have a different experience, can be fantasies or efforts to avoid our authentic experiences—especially in reaction to a difficult or traumatic present-day event. But, more often, escapism, future-tripping or fantasizing about being “anywhere but here” is a habitual form of thinking. After-all, our evolution has been determined by how well we predict future threats, so these habits of thoughts are deeply embedded into our neurocircuitry. Ironically, our habitual need to look to the future no longer helps keep us “safe” in the 21st Century. Instead, (and, as we suggest to ourselves that our present-day experiences are “not good enough”) we are often plagued with guilt, frustration, stress, impatience—more anxiety and depression, less safety.

It can be helpful to remind ourselves that our “old brain” is at work when we are daydreaming of being somewhere or someone else. [Old brain refers to instinctive or conditioned ways of thinking, feeling, and acting.  In other words, “outdated” survival techniques.]  Reminding ourselves that our present-day survival is no longer based on how well that we can predict future threats can help to pull us back to the reality of the day and reduce our overarching stress. We must also suggest to ourselves that opportunities for becoming a happier, healthier, less anxious, more centered and balanced species is determined by how successful we are at staying grounded in this very moment. When we let the past remain in the past, and we let the future remain a mystery, we often become more settled and at ease. I no longer have to feel remorse for “missed opportunities” or frightened by the mountains ahead that I “might” have to climb.

I can relax into the day and be calmed by the idea that all I really can and have to do today is stay focused on the present moment. Only then can I actually see with clarity who I am, where I am, and what I might want to explore in the future anyway. And, I just might get to feel and experience the safely and security that already exists in this very moment.

Be well~

Ryan

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