Future shock


So true, that. Wanting to control things over which I have no influence – time, events, people – really is my problem most of the time. Occasionally I even find myself praying to a God I don’t necessarily have faith in, trying to hedge my bets for the outcome I want. That’s when I know I’m really off-track.

That’s when I try to convince myself to come back to the moment. This moment. NOW. And then I try to come back to myself, which is, of course, the only thing I have control over – how I conduct myself in each moment. And then I breathe. Just breathe. It quiets my mind and calms the anxiety. When I’m back in my body and not sending my thoughts spinning into the stratosphere, I have choices.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to write or talk about this, than it is to actually do it in the heat of the crisis. When everything seems to be falling apart and the future is so uncertain, all I want is reassurance that everything is going to be okay. I just want someone to fix it, and to tell me I’m going to be alright. It’s the not-knowing that makes me feel unsafe, giving rise to the mind-numbing anxiety.

If I can remember to breathe, though, that’s all it takes. I remember that I can’t control the future, that everything passes, including the crisis at the moment, no matter how bad it seems. Nothing lasts forever. Sure there are losses, and that’s hard, but I’ve survived them before and I will again.

Whatever is going to happen will happen, whether I stress about it or not. So my energy is better spent calming my mind, focusing on what’s happening now. I’m safe in the present. I know where I am and what I’m doing. The same is not true of the next moment, until it comes, and trying to anticipate what’s going to happen in two hours, two days, or two weeks is just impossible.

So stay here now. Breathe. Accept whatever comes. The only other choice is to worry, and that’s wasted energy – it changes nothing but your blood pressure. Let go of the need to control. Feel the relief! You are not responsible for the outcome. You are only responsible for getting through whatever happens and then going on. That’s it.

As Dory says, “Just keep swimming.” That’s all you have to worry about. Take it one stroke at a time and breathe.

Just breathe.


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