Time Travel is possible. We all do it occasionally, but some people do it more often than others. People who use time travel spend a large portion of each day thinking about all the things they should’ve done yesterday, all the things that went wrong in the past, and all the things they’re supposed to do tomorrow. As a result, that is where they live: in the past or in the future. The downside to time travel is we miss out on living in the present moment, the only true moment in which anyone can really live! And the only moment in which we have control over. Even worse, not living in the present moment can also make life more painful.
Years ago, I met a man who sought my help for what he called “chronic worry.” Richard described a day at work for me to gain understanding into his world: “I was talking to my boss about a project I was working on; all I could think about was how she was going to, at any minute, criticize my work. I was preparing for an insulting remark, feeling defensive, irritable and even angry when it dawned on me, she hadn’t even said anything negative yet!” Richard was preventing himself from staying focused on the present moment and by projecting the worst, was feeling miserable even though his boss had not criticized him. I pointed out that he was choosing to suffer by time traveling into the future. He agreed. He also said he was traveling back in time as well, pointing out that 5 years prior, he had been fired for poor work performance. Living in a time that existed 5 years ago was keeping him in pain. He recognized how ridiculous this was and decided to try a few exercises I recommended. Later at the end of treatment, he reported feeling “free and no longer captive to myself,” which I thought was a great way of describing present-day living.
Try the following exercise if you struggle with time travel:
-Next time you are in a distressing situation ask yourself 4 questions: 1-“Where am I right now?” 2– “Am I time traveling in the future, worrying about something that might happen?” 3– Am I time traveling in the past, reviewing mistakes, reliving bad experiences, or thinking how my life could have been? 4- Last, ask, “Am I really paying attention to what I’m doing, thinking, and feeling?”
In addition to these 4 questions, tap into any of your 5 senses-what do you smell right now? Describe your surroundings. Sounds? etc.
As this becomes a practice, because it takes constant effort to live in today’s busy world, you will most likely reduce daily suffering and not allow time to rob you of present joy!
Fore more skills on joyful living, contact Monette Cash, LCSW, or any qualified therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy by calling 801-944-4555.