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Future Tripping for Fun

I obsess. No matter what, I will find something to obsess about.

I had a former manager say to me, “It sounds like you’re borrowing trouble,” by which she meant I was worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet and about which I had no control.

She called it borrowing trouble; I call it “future-tripping.” Of course, it’s much easier to see it happening in other people than it is for me to recognize it in myself.

During this time of uncertainty, it is easy to obsess about the future.

It would be easy to obsessively worry about what the government does or doesn’t do; whether the economy will bounce back; whether people at the grocery store are practicing safe social distancing, etc.

But if there’s one thing I know about obsessive worrying (and I know a lot), it has never once solved a problem. Sad but true. I’ve had to develop some tools for dealing with myself and here are some questions that might help you:

  1. Do you have control over it? Or, what part of this do you have control over? What are the facts?Sometimes just asking myself this set of questions will help me stop obsessing.

  2. Write it down and let it go. Whatever the thing is that you’re worried about, write it down in its simplest form on any scrap piece of paper and then put it in a shoebox, your sock drawer, whatever. Just get it out of your head and let it go in some physical, symbolic way. Every time you find yourself start to worry about it again, write it down again. At the end of the month, take them out of the box, review them and you’ll see how many things have resolved themselves without you having to worry about them. It works. You can burn them or throw them out and start fresh every month.

  3. Who do you want to BE? I want to be a person who… (make a list of the qualities and actions you want to live up to).Now, once you’ve got your list of who you want to be, choose ONE (not all) of the items on the list and ask: how can I BE that today? In other words, how can you act in accordance with that quality? By taking action to BE that, you will cement it in your brain.

  4. Write the future. If you were to write the story of the future, what would you want to have happen? What’s the story you’d prefer to tell?

The future is uncertain. We can spend our energy imagining all the things that could go wrong, which is how we are hardwired, or, you can imagine the future you’d like to experience. It’s a choice and it will start to train your brain to think about solutions rather than problems.

And don’t beat yourself up for worrying. It’s normal As I said, we’re hardwired for it—but you can re-direct your thinking. It’s called evolution.

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