Why The Future Is Stressful

Wow! It’s already Monday. This weekend flew by, but boy was it a great one. Friday was my dad’s birthday, so we spent the evening watching the new Mission Impossible movie after indulging in some delicious food at Bonefish Grill. I always forget how good Bang Bang Shrimp is until I go there. And let me tell you, the scallops I had were to die for. If you’ve never been there, I recommend trying it out!

On Saturday, my parents helped me finish moving into my new condo, and the place finally feels like home. My dad put together my bedroom set, so I’m no longer sleeping on a little bedframe and living out of plastic bins. Though I consider myself a minimalistic person that was a little too much for me!

We also hung up a lot of decorations, and I get a smile on my face just thinking about how happy this all makes me. To finally live somewhere that’s quiet, termite free, and has wonderful landlords is a major weight off my shoulders. I have to say thank you to my best friend’s mom for setting me up with my new landlords 🙂

So it’s now Sunday, and I’m waiting for a repairman to come and change the lock on my back door. He was supposed to be here two hours ago, but ya know…you can’t always win. I’ve already cleaned by whole place in the time I’ve spent waiting for him, and all the errands I need to run are on hold since I have to be here. So, I figured I’d talk to you all about a little misconception I had about the future.

In her best-selling book, You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero shares her tips and tricks on how to harness our greatness and use it to live the life we’ve always desired. I highly recommend this book for those of us that are just starting to explore the self-empowerment world. Jen breaks the book up into focus areas and then outlines steps on how to master them. But she also shares personal experiences, which makes the entire book relatable.

In the chapter titled, “Your Brain is Your B*tch”, she emphasizes the following sentence…

“Your job isn’t to know the how, it’s to know the what and to be open to discovering, and receiving, the how.”

I’ll be honest in saying that my approach to the future was nothing like this. Sure, I’d start with the what, but right after that I focused on the how. Being a planner, I love to outline steps and have a clear vision on how I’m going to achieve whatever it is I set my mind to. I’ve always considered this a strength, but the more I think about it, my strength is also my weakness.

Being a planner is beneficial in the sense that I typically always meet deadlines and am prepared for whatever comes my way. If a problem arises, I’ve already thought about how I’ll address it. If I need to schedule more time to work on something, I can always make room for that. The best feeling is when I get ahead of the game because I can cross things off my list and begin planning the next thing to work on. If any of you are planners, I’m sure you can relate.

But the truth is that being a planner is only good for solid deadlines, things that aren’t fluid and ever changing. Unfortunately, the future isn’t one of those things…it never seems to stay planted, and that’s because it is part of the ever changing situation we call life.

For those that have read my previous blog posts, it’s pretty evident what happens to us planners when the future changes, and it boils down to one word: stress. And to be honest, I don’t think we have to be planners for the future to stress us out. Thinking about what’s around the corner and how we might tackle it is an unsettling feeling for anyone.

But like Jen alludes to, most of the stress we experience stems from the fact that we focus on the “how” rather than the “what”. In doing so, we close ourselves off to what the world and God is trying to offer us. This is also known as tunnel vision.

This phenomenon is often taught to cadets in police officer training because it’s easy to fall victim to this in the line of duty, especially when responding to a call. Picture this…

You’re a police officer patrolling a neighborhood when you get a call about a domestic disturbance at a house not far from you. Dispatch has little information other than that the neighbor who called reported hearing screaming and glass breaking. You turn on your siren and hurry to respond to the call. There are a million scenarios playing out in your mind, and although you know it could be nothing, you focus on the worst one. Driving becomes a secondhand action as the situation pans out in your mind. You are so absorbed in it that you don’t see the elderly family pulling out of the shopping plaza in front of you until it’s too late. You slam on the breaks, swerve, clip the back of their car, and end up rolled over in embankment on the side of the road.

What happened? You spent so much time focusing on the possibilities, on the “how”, that you lost sight of the present moment and wound up in a ditch. You had tunnel vision.

This happens to us all the time. It happens to me every time I take on a new career path. I’m so absorbed in how I’m going to get there that I become closed off to the signs indicating it’s not the best career choice. And it takes me crashing hard to realize something that I could have easily been attune to had I actually concentrated on the important part: the “what”…

What makes me happy and gets me out of bed every morning? What pulls at my heartstrings? What ignites the fire inside of me every day? What do I feel is God’s purpose for me?

When we completely understand what our “what” is and are open to experiences that satisfy that “what”, we can begin to discern the “how”. Because it is through physically doing that we can appreciate what exactly it is that makes us tick and how exactly we can experience that sensation each day.

Okay, but how do we open ourselves up to make this discernment? That’s the difficult part. It’s hard because it takes self-awareness. It requires us to understand our feelings and recognize when we feel satisfied and unsatisfied.

There are many ways to go about this, but my favorite is prayer. Spending time alone with God (or the Universe if that aligns better with you) opens my heart up to the world around me. It lets me see all the signs I’ve been missing. Even more so, it lets me mediate on them and ask myself those “what” questions I alluded to earlier…What is God’s purpose for me? What ignites my fire?

And that brings me to my next favorite way…meditation. This is a scary one because many of us are truthfully afraid of silence. We want to spend our time thinking about next steps, but I’ve found that slowing down and just being present is exactly what I’ve needed. Deep down, we know we need to do this, but we avoid it for fear of what we might find. I promise you that whatever you find will never be as scary as living with a “what if?”.

And lastly, I’ve recognized that the minute I stopped avoiding what I was feeling inside, the happier I became. The truth is that there’s often a divide between what we want on the surface and what we want deep down inside. The surface is driven by society. The inside is driven by our true emotions and God’s plan. Accept what you feel. Embrace it. It’s often greater than what we wanted on the surface level anyway.

I hope you found this post inspiring, and I hope it made your mind begin to think! As always, thank you for reading. Don’t forget to like, comment, and share 🙂

Also! Don’t forget to like the Facebook page to get these posts on your feed and make sure to check out the new “Favorites” tab on the website. Have a great week!

“Sometimes you have to get rid of all the bullshit in your life, and just focus on the things that make you a better person.” ~ Anonymous

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