“ Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” - Kahlil Gibran
Has this period of time shown us, if we hadn’t already realised, that our anxiety levels spike at the thought of uncertainty; and do we as individuals outsource our happiness too much? The writer Kahlil Gibran states that anxiety comes out of feeling a lack of control. So why do we continue to become anxious about the uncontrollable? Instead we could strive to understand and accept that there are elements in life that are not in our control, and if we accept that, we can then begin to focus where we are.
Why do we try to control the future? The ego state requires the immediate satisfaction or resolution to a problem to feel safe. The uncertainty of the future, is a mystery to each one of us, but yet by embracing this untold journey, and being present in each moment, we can regain a quiet sense of freedom. In this state we are not being driven by our ego to control the uncontrollable, but instead taking pleasure from this present moment.
There is nothing wrong with having future goals, these are vital to us all; however, it does not pay dividend to listen to the ‘what if’ questions. The ‘what if’ is nothing more than anxiety levels rising, because you are not able to satisfy your needs for the future in that moment. Recognising the difference between future plans and living in the future are very different. The first, brings direction to your present, the other means you are not living in reality. You are worrying about a fictitious scenario, whilst reality is in the here and now; as is your happiness.
When we focus on the present moment, this raises our self awareness and our body is more relaxed. Being present can be done through a variety of methods, such as meditation or the practice of mindfulness. These practices can harness our ability to become at peace and settle, without needing to control the future and enjoy the present. By doing this we will ultimately move closers to our goals, in a less anxious frame of mind.
If you find that you recognise that you are living in the future and wanting to control it; bring yourself back to the present, this is where your security lays, this is where you have ultimate control. At times when you feel your anxiety levels rising within you, a simple action is to focus on your breathing; allow your mind to settle on the breath and become present in that very moment. This will bring control not to the future, but to the present.
James Relf Dip.Couns MBACP