I was talking to a friend recently who was feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and worry. When we picked her anxiety apart and looked at how much of the time she was focused on the future and the past, she realized, hey, all my negative thoughts and feelings came from focusing on either the past or future, but not in the present.
You see, the only time any of us can control is now. The past is past, and the future hasn’t happened yet. I’ve seen how anxiety can arise by either reliving past adverse events (kind of a self-flagellation when you think about it) or trying to control future outcomes.
Unfortunately, our brains are wired with a “negativity bias,” which protects us from environmental threats by scanning for harmful things. So – we always expect to find things harmful to us. Unless you’re vigilant, you’re screwed.
Redirecting your thoughts to the present allows you to take positive action! There’s a quote attributed to Mary Pickford. It goes something like, “The past cannot be changed, but the future is whatever you want it to be.” And how do you make the future whatever you want it to be? By making changes right now, in the present.
The present is a gift (see what I did there? 🙂 ). I’m still working on this too. It’s not a natural way for many of us to think. Chances are you weren’t taught it as a kid. I sure wasn’t, either.
Back to my friend. She called me the next day saying she felt her black cloud had evaporated. She felt a new optimism about progressing with life. So let’s do that. Focus on the here and now; immerse yourself where you are, what you feel, smell, see, hear. Let the past and future go. You completely control your now.
Breathe. Feel – really FEEL – this present moment. Now is the most powerful moment in time.