Where are you right now? Me? Right now, I’m in my pj’s, sitting in my computer room. I just finished my bowl of cereal, I’m sipping on my coffee and trying to get my brain to wake up. For some reason, writing helps it wake up properly. Otherwise it takes hours.
So, I’ve just told you where I am physically. Now mentally, I could be anywhere. Most times, my mind is hours, days or even weeks ahead of the present moment (and sadly, even years at times). Where are you mentally? Of course, you’re reading this post, so you would think that you were here. But are you really? Or are you just reading the words, and thinking what you need to get done at work, or what to make for dinner, or even, what you’re planning to do for the weekend?
It’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves. Most times, when we do, it’s because we worry and are anxious. We need to learn how to center ourselves, be grounded in the present moment. It’s unrealistic to say we shouldn’t think of the future, because we need to. We should plan for our future. But when you start worrying about possible outcomes, when you know that they may not take place that way, that’s when you get yourself into trouble – when you begin to fret, when you aren’t able to function normally and you are so anxious that you become to be in a permanent state of “basket case-ness.”
So what do you do in times like this? There are lots which you can do. I’ll share with you some of the things that I have learned, some from the many psychology books I’ve read, and what has been shared by close friends and my therapist.
One option is to write things down from the heart. Really write down what you are feeling. Not in point form or anything, but in full complete sentences as if you are having a conversation with someone. Many times when we are worrying about the future we are ashamed to tell anyone for fear of judgement, so we internalize it. That leads to a whole mess of things, so by writing it down it allows you to acknowledge it, let it go, and then you feel lighter. Here is an example of what I wrote once:
“I feel like sh*t. I can’t seem to concentrate on anything. All I want to do is cry. I have so much to do in the next week that I don’t know when I’m going to get two minutes to just breathe. I have to do ‘this,’ and then from there I have to go ‘here’ and see ‘this person.’ I wonder what they will say? I just know that they’re going to tear my head off. Oh and because of that, our relationship will never be the same. They won’t like me anymore, and that means I’ve just blown my chances with ever getting somewhere. I just know that they hate me and think I’m an idiot. Why do I even bother. And how am I going to get through the week? I’m so exhausted just thinking about it. And on Saturday I have so many people coming over, how am I going to prepare all that food when I’m booked down to the minute? Maybe I should cancel, but I can’t, people are coming from far and have held the date for so long.”
As you can see, my mind was so far ahead, and I was so scattered. Just by writing it down, it allowed me to release the fear. Another technique is to repeat “Right now, I am ….” or “At this moment, I am …..” Basically, what you are doing is bringing yourself back into the present, to what you are currently doing. This really works well, especially if you don’t have the ability to write anything down. Many times I find myself skipping ahead, and I say “Smartie, right now you are washing the dishes” or “At this moment, you are driving.” The mind always seems to drift when I’m doing something which doesn’t require much thought.
And lastly, when I try to rein in my mind, and I have trouble doing so, I do the technique which my therapist taught me. She has me use three of my senses: sight, sound and feel. You would start off by listening to five things around you, the see five things around you and then feel five things around you. So right now, five things I hear are: 1. the punching of the keys to my laptop 2. the airplanes outside 3. my breath 4. the hum of my laptop 5. the car door being slammed. Five things I see are: 1. my laptop 2. the blinking light to my Blackberry 3. The sunlight shinning on the wall 4. my computer screen 5. my fingers moving as I type. Five things I feel are: 1. my fingers on the keys 2. the floor under my bare feet 3. the chair supporting my lower back 4. my hair tickling my face 5. my breath on my lip. And so you would repeat this again, but this time naming four items and then three and then two and so on until you reach one. It’s ok to repeat items as well. Once you get to one you’ll feel so grounded and in the present moment. It’s so calming. I even find that I use this technique when I’m having trouble sleeping, as most times I’m usually thinking of something.
So, now after reading this, I’m going to ask you again. Where are you right now? Me? Right now, I am HERE.