Discover how to stop obsessing about the future and live your life to the fullest.
Spending time future-gazing and even daydreaming about what your life might look like in months or years to come is natural. Everyone does it, and it can be motivational, inspiring and stimulating. Equally, putting in some planning and preparation to help realise your goals is also a sensible and healthy way to move towards the life you want.
If, however, you spend most of your time feeling anxious about what the future may hold or find that you’re constantly living out future possibilities in your head, you might be creating a life full of worry. Potentially, you could be missing out on the beautiful, wholesome and life-affirming experiences you could be having right now, in the present moment!
7 SIGNS YOU’RE OVERTHINKING THE FUTURE
- Constantly feeling worried and losing sleep about what may or may not happen.
- Overthinking every possible scenario.
- Obsessively planning for every potential outcome.
- Feeling anxious, unsettled or moody about what the future may hold.
- Difficulty in concentrating on current tasks because you’re focused on tomorrow.
- Always preoccupied with ‘what if…?’ questions: What if I don’t pass the exam? What if I can’t get a job? What if I’m unable to fulfil my dreams for a happy life?
- Unable to enjoy the moment because you’re already thinking about what comes next.
WHAT CAUSES A PREOCCUPATION WITH THE FUTURE?
It’s natural to feel concerned about a future outcome involving people, events and things that matter, but worrying obsessively eats up time and energy and can even steal your happiness. So, what could be causing this?
Although it’s not always obvious, fear is often at the root of overthinking and worrying about the future. It’s the fear of failing or being judged as not being good enough; it’s the fear of things going wrong or not working out as you planned; it’s the fear of losing, missing out or not having any control over a situation. When you recognise and understand why you’re absorbed with something that may or may not happen, you can then make a conscious choice to change how you feel.
7 WAYS TO EASE WORRIES ABOUT THE FUTURE
1. Become aware
When you realise that obsessing about the future is causing unnecessary worry, you can use this awareness to catch yourself out by pressing an imaginary stop button whenever your attention drifts towards overthinking something that may or may not happen.
2. Learn to adapt
It’s impossible for anyone to predict the future because there are so many variables. Even with the greatest planning, life doesn’t always turn out as anticipated. Have confidence in your ability to adapt and make the best of any situation. This will help you to greet the future when it arrives rather than worrying about it in advance.
3. Choose how to respond
There is a wise saying that goes like this: change what you can’t accept or accept what you can’t change. In other words, if you can do something about a situation, do it. If not, then accept and let it go. In either case, why worry? Remind yourself that it’s best to spend time and energy focusing on what matters today.
When thoughts start racing and your mind fills up with concerns about what might happen, try focusing on your breathing. Inhale and exhale calmly. Acknowledge the fear at the root of your concerns and, with each exhale, let it go.
5. Journal it
Sometimes, just putting pen to paper helps to transfer the worry from your mind onto the page to clear your thoughts. Writing down future concerns is also a way to gain clarity on a situation and can help you see things from a different and often more relaxed perspective.
6. Ask for help
If obsessing about the future is having a negative effect on your health and wellbeing, it can help to talk to a trusted adult – perhaps a teacher, school counsellor, or an older family member.
7. Focus on living now
A bit of daydreaming about the future is fine but don’t allow it to take over the gift of your present moment. Instead of worrying about future things you can’t control, focus on the experience that is now. Be mindful. Take note of your surroundings. Immerse your senses in everything around you. By being fully in the now, the future can’t bother you. You are truly free.