Dianne Holliday Fish, LPC
..."Wow, it felt like yet another tough day. I doubt Ms. Finch is going to support me in the negotiations at the end of the month. I haven't started the slides for my presentation in a few weeks. The new clients aren't going to be impressed with my approach. I really don't think I'm the best person to give this talk. Why can't I find the time to get started on those slides? Oh, and Sarah wants to spend the night with that new friend next weekend. I don't even know her parents. I'm sure she'll pout and get angry if I have to say "no". And why was Laney so rude last week? She always expects me to do the cooking when the family gets together and that's really so unfair. Mom always let Laney get away with not doing her chores- that's so irritating! Ugh, my stomach is churning again...
Why do I always feel so worried, overwhelmed, and stressed out?"
We make life feel more challenging than it has to by fretting about things that are off in the future or re-hashing things that happened in the past. When our worries jam up into a huge pile, we feel anxious and unsettled, or overwhelmed to a point of getting stuck and unable to move forward.
In the words of Richard Miller, "You possess an innate intelligence that knows exactly what to do in every situation that life brings to your table. Fear is always about the future, and reactivity is about the past. Right action resides in the 'now'."
Experiment with these simple actions to help you begin living life moment to moment:
- When you notice yourself feeling agitated, worried, or upset, rewind your thoughts and explore where your attention was focused over the last 30 minutes. Were you immersing yourself in the task at hand? Or were you fretting about something that may (or may not) happen in the future? Were you reliving an old interaction? One tool to help you stay in the present moment is to enthusiastically engage your senses in even the most simple task: How does the dish soap smell? Do you like the slippery feel of the suds between your fingers? Did you notice how the plate squeaks a little when you scrub it?
- Each day pay attention to which "to do" items you are dwelling on. If something has no immediate action needed, consciously set that issue down to be dealt with later. If you are concerned that you may forget to address it, then add it to an ongoing "to do" list. Don't be surprised when the issue pops up again, be persistent and set it down again.
- Charge up your sense of humor! It's not easy to break old habits of dwelling in the past or future. When you "catch" yourself doing it again for the millionth time- take it easy on yourself, laugh about your amazing ability to slip away so quickly, and gently bring yourself back to right here, right now.