Continuing our conversation about how to free ourselves from the unhealthy thinking habits we’ve cultivated for years, today’s post is about how to stop “living in the wreckage of the future.” This is a phrase one of my clients taught me from AA which is intended to help folks in recovery not “catastrophize” about what tomorrow will bring and live “one day at a time.” In truth, none of us knows what’s ahead but we like to believe we do to experience a sense of control and predictability about life.
Mark Twain said, “Most of my life’s worst experiences never actually happened.” This quote is about how many of our worst expectations and fears don’t materialize although we think about them so much that we frighten and worry ourselves as if they had. Recall the last time you were convinced something bad would happen and it didn’t. How did you feel? Was there a sense of relief or not? Often we’ve built up so much anticipatory anxiety, it still takes days to calm down.
Since August is often stressful as kids return to school and we leave summer behind, opportunity for “living in the wreckage of the future” looms large. So, tell your “catastrophizing self” I appreciate your concern but what I really need is for you to shut up. While this isn’t easy, with practice it improves and we can rest in the awareness that the present moment is usually okay.