At the risk of sounding like a conceited fool or an evangelist-guru-yogi of sorts: a lot of us have this tendency of worrying about the future because of the decisions we’ve made in our pasts. While it’s a brilliantly good thing that we would want to learn from our failures, and mistakes which in turn further enables our future selves to be better versions of our past selves, it also stands to reason that we may get caught up in a worry-full loop.
This loop of worrying about making the same mistakes again in the not so distant future, grips us in a way that makes moving ahead difficult; more often than not, it does bring us to a stalemate of sorts, with different versions of ourselves. Making difficult for us, present in the here, and now to move forward; with confidence. It makes it difficult for us to move at all in some cases. We can even label this whole worrying-loop-thingie as being stuck in a rut; it does become a routine, hampering our personal growth; spilling over into everything else that’s going for us.
Here’s something that might just work for you, when something like this happens:
We all have gut instincts. We have had it for eons on end. Simply put, instincts are survival based evolutionary trait. Think Charles Darwin. So is patience (at least I’d like to think that). We also possess the ability to bring our minds back in to the present or (at the risk of sounding like your high-school teacher) rather snapping our minds out of it. Forcefully so. How? By asking questions that pertain to accomplishing the tasks we want to be done with; the ones we’re not doing because we’re worried about failure or repeating the same mistakes again into the future. By asking questions that pertain to helping us make better decisions in the here, and now - answers to which would directly aid us with moving forward. Even if it’s us moving forward at a snails pace.
Let me further clarify this with the help of a simple example: For most of my adult life, I’ve been desperately trying to build a business that would sustain my goals, family, and satisfy my creativity. And, I’ve been failing. Over, and over again. Nonetheless, I am still at it; trying new ideas, validating them, failing, and finally starting over again. Do I ever feel worried? Heck yes! Have I found myself so worried of failure again such that it has stopped me from moving forward? Heck yes! How have I kept moving forward? By forcefully bringing myself back into the present; that, by asking, and answering questions like: Why did the last thing did not work out? What is it I am trying to do now? How do I get there? How fast can I get there? What are the goals / milestones / tasks needed to be done with to start? What will I do if I happen fail again? - And so on.
I end up writing the answers to those questions mentioned above. So that the next time I find myself stuck, I can easily go back to what I had written down in ink. I answer as bluntly, and realistically as I can. I also wait a lot before I take the first step forward, while making sure it’s where I want to step (I hope that makes sense). I tend follow my gut as much as I can.
“The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” - Robert Frost.
So far, so good. While I may have failed in doing a zillion other things, and may have made a zillion mistakes. I have also learned. And, The act of snapping myself back into the present for the benefit of the future I envision, has never failed me. It has kept me moving forward. It has helped shape me who I am today.
In short, if we ever find ourselves worrying about the future because of the past, we’re only letting the now go. And, if we can somehow snap ourselves back into the here, and now; make it so that we can do things that would help us get to where we want to be in the future, instead of focusing on things not working out, then I am of the opinion that we’re halfway there.
Back to square one doesn’t mean six feet under. Not yet.
Other things that may be of some relief are practicing mindfulness, exercising, yoga, meeting new people who can help you, etc. And, if you’ve to worry then why not worry about here, and now instead of worrying about the future; because of your past?
Exercise of Here-and-Now
If you would really like to work towards being more in the here, and now then here’s an exercise that will definitely help you, and make you answer some of the more nagging questions originating from yourself. It’s a little advanced, but if you can get through that first exercise, it’ll do a lot of good.
PS: You can go on with the rest of the exercises on that page too, but Exercise 1 is what we’re after.