The two obvious ways to not be present in the experience that you are in is to think about the past or future. Different people have different tendencies with these. This blog will focus on obsessively thinking about the future or what I will call future tripping.
A typical response is, “But we need to think about the future, how else do we plan and set goals?” And this is true. However, future tripping goes way beyond functional planning. There are two varieties of future tripping that I have been observing in myself and other people. The first I will call fear-based future tripping and the second fantasy future tripping.
Fear-based future tripping is often referred to as anxiety. Fear interestingly enough is always future-based. You are afraid of what will happen in some form or another. You obsess on planning and analyzing every possible scenario in an attempt to control what will happen. It usually stems from not believing in your survivability. The permanent remedy involves proving to yourself that you can survive any experience that might come your way. Once you trust yourself, you can relax and allow things to happen.
I noticed fantasy future tripping in myself during my recent meditation retreat. This involves you concocting some outcome that you wish would happen. This has been referred to as wishful thinking. This is the positive attachment to future thoughts- with fear being the negative. So you might think about how the boss will be pleased with your work, how the man or woman will realize they like you, and so forth. It usually stars you as the hero. You are coming in to save the day or finally getting the respect you deserve.
The fundamental problem with fantasy future tripping is that it is not real. And worse, it takes you away from what is real. It becomes seductive for you to focus on this larger-than-life reality, rather than the current reality of your present experience. The solution is to observe yourself fantasizing and then gently reel yourself back to your present experience.
And then reminding yourself that the real thing is ultimately more satisfying.
About the Author
I, Michael Hoffman, am a licensed psychotherapist, teacher, and author with 25 years experience in counseling and teaching experiential workshops. I have maintained this blog since 2009, and my second book Natural Way of Being will published in 2019.
I offer in-person and video-conferencing counseling, intensive workshops, and online courses to allow participants to directly experience their natural way of being and the life they would have for themselves.