Stop Thinking Ahead
I would just like to start with a disclaimer that this topic is not going to apply to everyone. There are a lot of people out there who could really benefit from thinking ahead, planning, and applying more structure to their lives. So if you’re one of those people maybe you can learn some tips about how that works in this article. However, if you’re like me and find yourself living in your head in a futuristic, anticipatory way; this post is for you.
Let me tell you a little bit about what it feels like to be in my head.
My head is always anticipating the next thing… the next few things… and each and every thing that is coming up on the horizon. They could be goals, projects, events, or just ideas that have some sort of deadline either set by me or someone else. I am constantly thinking about these things and their points in the future. My mind is always automatically working to fill in the necessary elements needed to achieve a certain outcome to the best of my ability at that later date.
Now, a pro to this is that I have an overwhelming amount of confidence when it comes to that thing happening in the future. When it actually happens, is launched, comes to be…. whatever; I am so well prepared for every element of it that I am extremely calm and uniquely confident.
But let’s talk about what I sacrifice on my way there.
Let’s say it’s Monday and I have an important thing to do on a Saturday that requires a semi-significant amount of prior thought and planning. When I have that goal in mind, my brain then starts work on all of the necessary elements needed to make it work in its entirety. It starts to block out all of my hours, and determine their most efficient usage.
On Tuesday, I should be doing ____ as a beginning preparatory stage.
On Wednesday and Thursday It would make sense to go over ___items in case ______ happens, and I should also probably start doing ____ just so I have a backup plan in case that doesn’t work.
On Thursday I should probably review some training on ____, and also review my backup plan, and at least get 6 hours of sleep because the mind needs rest!
Friday definitely needs 8 hours of sleep because I know I won’t be getting much sleep tomorrow and my brains needs to be fully charged. Did I eat breakfast today? Why is my left leg asleep? I also need to spend that time marinating on the full flow so everything so it goes off without a hitch.
OK now expand that exact process over multiple events over a prolonged period of time and welcome to my world.
Yes, this working of the mind leads to a general high level of perfection, everything comes to completion very well, most of the time. There are no surprises, just a perfectly executed process and flow. (Ahhh this is heaven to me.) My mind automatically fires this way constantly whether I want it to or not. So, why can this sometimes be the worst thing?
I’m physically, emotionally, and mentally unavailable for present moments.
I hope you understand that I don’t write this lightly. When you are constantly living in the future, you often miss out on the simple things and pleasures that are happening around you in real life.
Physical exhaustion even though I didn’t do much.
Brains are a lot like computers and operating this way with multiple tracks of futuristic goals, takes up a lot of processing power. Things do need to get done to make them a reality, so that does take some physical implementation. But I find that it often takes up so much processing power that it physically exhausts me with a limited amount of physical expenditure. Energy to meet you for dinner? I’m sorry I can’t. Energy to have a 10 minute friendly conversation with you? I may really want to, but often I can’t. I try to put my best foot forward and garner up the energy if possible, but often times there’s just nothing there. Sometimes the sweet things people want to do to connect causes such inner turmoil because in theory, I may want to, but now my whole alignment of future sequences of time and space must shift to accommodate this new thing, which is expending more energy than I want to right now.
Emotional exhaustion even though I’ve been alone.
Again, I think this comes down to processing power. When you are processing on all cylinders in a logical, rational mental framework, it’s almost as though you need a reboot to be able to access genuine emotions, or even know what they are. Often times my emotions are very simple. I’m happy, I’m content, I’m sad, I’m overwhelmed, but sometimes even accessing those simple emotions can be hard.
Mental exhaustion, where are we?
Do you know that feeling when you’re driving a car and arrive at a destination and realize you have no idea what happened on your way there. Were you even driving? Were there fairies pushing the pedals for you? I often feel like that in other areas outside of the ones that my mind is currently tracked for. I have done some incredibly stupid things in the real world because my mind has been completely removed. Ask my husband about the time I stuck my finger in a blender and turned it on while cooking thanksgiving dinner.
When your brain works this way by its nature it’s impossible to stop and smell the roses. If your brain works this way it is wonderfully amazing, yet completely overwhelming, and rationally irrational.
So how did I achieve some more balance in this area?
I had to start planning my planning. I had to tell my brain to stop if it was jumping too much ahead. I started setting “start dates” in my calendar for when I would allow myself to go into this savior state of orchestrating all of the pieces to achieve the vision. I did this so that I could stop missing out on so much of my reality. Being so constantly unavailable was painful to others, and painful to me because I don’t really want to miss out on my entire life for the sake of glorious articulated goals… all of the time. And sometimes they really aren’t even THAT important. What is important to me? Achieving things and making a difference yes, but also my family, quality time with the ones I love, breathing some fresh air here and there.
I had to plan open space - time for not thinking about anything. Giving myself a few hours to mentally recuperate at first felt like an impossible task. I could actually feel myself going through physical symptoms of detox, but the result was a more efficiently functioning brain after. Plan for yourself time to do “not doing”.
I had to sacrifice a small piece of perfection. Pulling back on the time I alloted to certain things felt so wrong at first. It took away about 2% of the control of my final “product”. But what I realized is that it was a percentage that only I noticed. So even though it felt wrong, it gave me some time for things of the things that I love, and it really wasn’t THAT big of a deal.
For those of you who also have this mindset, I encourage you to put some methods into practice to help you be more present. Life is over very quickly, let’s not miss it.