This post looks at time—more specifically, past regrets, future worries. Now. I want to acknowledge up front (right Now) that there are many different forms of worry and anxiety, and I’m no professional. What we’re talking about here (and Now) isn’t clinical anxiety or medical treatments, but hopefully ideas that can help us to work through some of our struggles with mind time.
Struggles that we all share.
Clock our time
In the Pace post, we introduced Eckhart Tolle’s idea of psychological time and clock time. Very briefly! Let’s talk some more—
Psychological time is the time that involves a lot of thought—about the past and future.
How much time do you spend there?
For me, it’s way too much. Time spent thinking about past situations and what I could have said, how I could have acted differently. Time pondering the future—fantasising about what it might bring, worrying what it might bring.
The important thing to understand about worry is that it’s only ever for the future unknown. We worry in the Now, but it’s not worry for the moment we’re in, because when we’re in it—we’re doing it, we’re dealing with it, we’re not worrying about it. It’s not unknown anymore.
So, worry is only ever for the future unknown—and, at the time of our worry, we don’t even know if what we’re worrying about is ever going to happen, right?
Clock time, on the other hand, is how we manage our time. How we use it, instead of the other way around—it’s also about learning from the past and setting goals for the future. But, in the Now.
So, how do we know if we’re utilising clock time in the right way or falling into psychological time? It’s pretty simple—
If we’re dwelling in the past, instead of learning from it—psych time.
If we’re obsessing about the future, instead of using it as motivation for our current actions—psych time!
Flipping the switch
Remember, today is the tomorrow that you were worried about yesterday.
~ Dale Carnegie
I love this quote. If we think about all the challenges we’ve overcome in our ‘todays’—they were all things that we worried about yesterday for tomorrow, and we got through them, right?
Or they were things that we never worried about and they just happened and we dealt with them!
We’re here, Now.
When we boil it down, worry is fear and fear is expectation.
Deepak Chopra explains that if we fear failure or pain, we’re expecting failure or pain. If we don’t expect it, what’s to fear, right? Fear comes from the unknown, from self-doubt.
Doubt. Fear. Worry. They all start in our minds, but they’re based on external influences and they radiate outward to affect our daily actions.
But, like we talked about in the last post—breath brings us inward, an internal influence.
As we talk about in the next post—focus brings us inward.
So, if the outward journey is full of doubt, worry, and fear, the opposite must be true of the inward—
Belief. Contentment. Courage.
Focusing inward doesn’t mean self-obsession or ego—it doesn’t mean shut out the world, isolate ourselves and live like monks (no disrespect!).
Focusing inward means taking our strength from within, not looking at those external influences—those doubts and fears and worries, and letting them dictate who we are.
We are not them.
Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation.
~ Eckhart Tolle
Courage to shine
We’re missing so many steps here because this topic could actually take a month of Sundays! But, the key to trying to overcome worry is really rooted in that difference between psych and clock time.
Learning, not dwelling—motivation, not obsession.
The best chance to be whole is to love whatever gets in the way, until it ceases to be an obstacle.
~ Mark Nepo
There are a few different strategies we can try to overcome our doubts and worries—
We can do as Mark Nepo says and love them. Love our worries and Worry’ll be like “huh, what’s going on here? You lovin’ me? That’s a worry.” Worry be worryin’!
We can study our worries and learn everything we can about them. Ask all the questions—”why, Worry? What’s your purpose? How are you serving me?” Worries are unknown beasts, so if we set out to know everything about them, they can’t be worrying anymore. We can school them worries!
We can practice tough (but kind) love. The brutal, honest truth about our insecurities is that they’re not special. Everyone, everyone has them. They’re actually really boring. We can get defensive and say “hey, this is my life here. My doubts are real and they’re hard,” and that’ll be true. But, they’re still not cool. And we can learn to deal with them by saying “sorry, Worry. Thanks for your concern, but you’re just not special enough for me.”
We can share them. Tell our friends and families about them. Either, when we say them out loud, we’ll realise they’re not as worrying as they sound in our heads or we’ll have others to help us through. We are not alone in our worries. Ever.
We can practice gratitude. Every time we feel our heart start to pound, a worrying thought coming on—stop. Breathe. Say “thank you, Worry, but that’s enough now. I got this.” Make it your mantra—thank you, I got this.
We can trust. We can trust that everything happens for a reason and we won’t get thrown anything we can’t handle. We’ll face it and learn from it and grow on.
We can look inward.
Because that’s where the belief and content and courage are.