The individual, who keeps their mind locked into thinking about the past or imagined futures, is seeking to escape the present moment
We can become addicted to this kind of thinking and like any addiction it can be hard to break. Thinking about the future can be particularly attractive. This goes some way to explaining why we’re always planning holidays, weekend breaks, nights out and so on. We need something to look forward to. When thinking about these future events, we’re taking our mind, out of the present moment. The big question is: Why?
For many of us this relates to loneliness
In the present moment we mightn’t be with the people we love and enjoy. We might be at work, spending time with colleagues, we have no emotional connection to. We may even dislike our work or colleagues. During this time, we’re not joyful or stimulated in the way we want to be, as such, we crave to be somewhere else. Our mind drifts out of the moment and into an imagined future. This acts as relief to what we’re experiencing right now. Nevertheless, after gaining this understanding, we might now state: “So what, it gets me through, damn you!”
It’s certainly the case that thinking about future events does get us through
However, there are several reasons, for why we must learn to break the habit of dwelling on imagined events. Firstly, if our mind is distracted, with thoughts of the future, we’ll be in a state of unawareness. There are potential repercussions of this unawareness: Accidents, mindlessness, and poor decision making, to mention just a few. Learning to keep the mind present holds the power of helping us make better decisions. Also, we stay safe and improve the likelihood of going about our everyday business, in a more mindful fashion. In the long term, through being mindfully aware, quality of life improves.
Weaning ourselves off bad habits can be challenging
In terms of planning and thinking about the future, it’s useful to read and ponder, on the following quote:
“In addition to living in the now, we must offset some energy for making a mental map or plan for the future. Creating a map is achieved by placing markers that are easily visible. This makes the map easier to produce and ensures we do not waste energy looking toward a future we are unable to see. We must not dwell on this map. Hold the intention for the plan and then lose the thoughts relating to the outcome. This, in effect, makes more energy available for the now moment and your intentions for the future” – Create Beautiful Partnerships
It is perfectly acceptable to create a map for the future. The important proviso being, once created, we then lose the thoughts relating to it. Keeping mind present is the habit to create. Awareness of now, having made a plan for the future, is essential. If we fail in this – allowing the mind to drift – it’s highly likely, that the future we previously dreamed of, will remain as such.
For clarity think of it like this:
By living with our mind predominantly in the future, we’re living-out fiction, in reality. We’re fulfilling an imagined future within our mind. If we do this frequently, we’re not only wasting our lives, as a result of not improving our situation now, we’re increasing the odds of the future remaining a dream. If the future is going on in our mind already, there is a danger, that we’ll lack the energy and motivation, to manifest it in reality.
Perhaps confusingly and in contrast to this, it is said, that fears – constantly thought about – can become reality. This viewpoint states: If we spend a lot of time thinking about what we fear, we’re increasing the odds, of them becoming reality. We might now ask: Surely it works the same way with positive dreams? If we think about them, we’ll make them happen, right? No, because there’s a big difference, between how the mind processes fear and love.
Removing confusion – the reality is this:
Thinking about our dreams reduces the odds of them happening? Thinking about our fears increases the odds of them happening? Allow me to explain.
It’s useful to consider the aversion we have to our fears. Thinking about what we fear is due to our need to avert them. Dreams, of brighter futures, differ in respect of us seeking to welcome them. Craving something and seeking to avert something are two very different things.
We don’t live-out fears within our mind, we only begin, to imagine them
We generally only need to have an image of what we fear in order to create the associated negative feelings. We never live through it in its entirety. This has the reverse effect of the aversion we seek. It actually draws us toward what we fear. Conversely, often when we think of joyful, positive future plans, there is a tendency to live-out the imagined future in its entirety. This has the effect of the mind perceiving it as having already happened. This diminishes the need, desire, energy and motivation, needed, to fulfill it.
There is a massive difference between aversion and craving
Think of an individual who has a fear of spiders. Do they imagine the spider in all its glory crawling all over them, biting them and finally spinning a web, cocooning them? No, they need only imagine a stationary spider, sitting in wait, in order to be afraid. In fact, if such an individual wanted to rid themselves of their fear, a therapist would encourage imagining the scenario I first suggested, only to add a positive ending (an escape from the cocoon for example).
Imagining and living through a frightening event (or a pleasant one for that matter) has the effect of diminishing its power. Can you now see how this works? Can you see the danger, of living-through our better, pleasant fantasies?
So there we have it. Keep your mind present, by breaking the habit, of being in an imagined future. Create the habit of being present to improve it. Make plans, but NEVER, dwell on them; you’re ruining your chances of a better future if you do. The key is Meditation. Make a plan, and safely place it at the back of your mind. Deposits now being taken.