Does your stress live in your past or your future?

This week, in a moment of madness, I was scrolling through my pictures and came across an image that said, "I've come to a point in my life where I need a stronger word than (rhymes with duck!)"  In what seemed like a good idea at the time, I posted it up on my personal facebook page and then wasted a good hour watching friends respond.  Some came back with suggestions, many with humour, one very serious one suggested 'love' - which at the time, I couldn't bring myself to give a thumbs up - but we'll come back to that!

What I didn't bank on was my daughter then seeing it on my screen and then telling a bunch of her friends about it too!  So what started off as a bit of a joke, left me feeling pretty embarrassed and not exactly the pinnacle of good parenting!

Perhaps I should have taken the post down but I have decided not to as it serves as a reminder to me of something I have been engaging with clients a lot about this week who were struggling with stress.  I had two clients back to back, one who spends a lot of time dwelling in the past, the next who spends 90% of her time thinking about the future and avidly planning for it.  Both were stressed and also totally missing what was going on around them right there and then.  A common phrase of mine..."Today is the only chance you get to enjoy today."

I often use a metaphor of driving to get this idea across.  You need to glance in the rear view mirror to be aware of what is behind you.  Glancing back into our past gives us the opportunity to learn and to avoid repeating mistakes.  If you spend your car journey worrying about the accident you have heard about on the radio 30 miles further along your journey, there is every possibility that by the time you get there, it will have cleared and all that worry will have resulted in wasted energy (and maybe an unnecessary detour!)

If you spend much of your time thinking miles ahead or looking in the rear view mirror, the chances are you are not giving due attention to the stretch of road you are on right now!

Now will be in your rear view mirror very soon but then, you only get to see a small bit of it.  When you engage with the road whilst it is happening, you get to see it, hear it, feel it, smell it .....experience it!  

There is a very simple technique that I taught both these clients that is really impactful and sooooo easy to do!  So if you are aware that you spend a lot of time in the past or planning for a future that is too far out front that you can't control it yet, then have a little watch of this to show you how it works

So I am keeping that post up as it is a very keen reminder to me of this principle.  By keeping it up in my past I keep that learning more front of mind not to put up things that may back fire on me!  By looking into the future, I may have seen the potential for people to see the post that would lead to the parental faux pas! 

The best bit though - that one comment that, at the time I chose not to acknowledge - that other little 4 lettered word!  When we spend time in the past or the future we miss the now.  My post was motivated by stress from the previous days and a big stress cloud on the horizon and I did not notice all the LOVE that was around me at the time, all the many good things I also have in my life right now.  And this is what this little exercise  does, it helps you to tune into what is with you right now and we start to notice all of those little things that were there all the time, we just didn't pay attention to them.

So I am back to using this technique often now, bringing myself back to the present, enjoying the moment, knowing that I can't change the past and when the future arrives, I'll deal with it one way or another!

Are you prepared to give it a go?  

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