Summer is winding down. It was a wonderful, fun and relaxing summer. Now it is time to kick the sand off my flip-flops and lace up my running shoes for the annual fall marathon. Nope, I have not taken up running. I’m talking metaphorically. This time of year always finds me gathering my energy for a stepped-up pace, as clients, projects and faculty commitments move into high gear. The air seems infused with excitement and challenge. And, despite loving my work, I get anxious.
While journaling recently, I had a big ah-ha moment. I realized that all of my anxiety arises when I project into the future and start worrying about negative scenarios. These are entirely a product of my rather fecund imagination. The scary situations my mind can concoct often center around technology challenges or not being a good enough [fill in the blank…coach, partner, friend, facilitator, mentor…]. Then, the stress and anxiety begins to build. As I reflected on what happens when my mind wanders off, unchaperoned, into the future, I realized there was a pretty easy fix to my problem: Stay in the present.
When I live in the present moment, I notice what is real and true now. I breathe. My mind clears. My body relaxes. My heart expands. Even in the midst of difficult situations, I feel centered and steady. Then, thinking back over my life and work, I had another realization. It was that I have always been able to meet any challenge and get through it. Yes, with varying degrees of grace. Not without bruises (to my ego, body or heart). Sometimes accompanied by tears (of frustration, sadness or even exhaustion). Now, when I find myself time-traveling to the future, I gently pull myself back to the present. I repeat my new mantra: I am capable, resourceful and resilient.
Of course, there are appropriate times to think into the future. One is when envisioning a desired future state. Another is for legitimate planning for a project or goal. Another is whenanticipating an event that I am looking forward to, even challenged by, in a positive way. I’m sure you can think of other instances where the future is a place you can allow your mind to play in.
What are your ways of gearing up for a productive, busy fall? What have you learned about how to avoid stress and anxiety by being fully present? What is still a challenge for you to live in the now? If I can support you in any way with this exploration, please ask.
Sharon Keys Seal