I heard this term used recently and it really resonated with me because before COVID this was definitely something that I did a lot of and I am not going to lie, during COVID, this is something I have really struggled with letting go of, because, frankly, I, like so many others, have had absolutely no control over this and the option to future plan was totally taken out of my hands.
So, for the purpose of this blog, I decided to delve a little further into what the term “Future Tripping” means, especially when it seems very far from our everyday reality, at this very moment, when things are totally out of our control.
Wake up, eat, stare at a screen, exercise, eat, repeat. It is very much starting to feel like Groundhog Day. Even though the government may have published a tentative roadmap for exiting lockdown, we still don’t know when, or if, life will return to normal. As a result, planning for the future feels impossible. The fate of holidays, weddings and even family meals remain uncertain. All we have is the here and now – we’re living in an “infinite present”. This was a phrase shared on Twitter by American journalist Helen Rosner whereby the “infinite present” is upon us because we have “no future plans, no anticipation of travel or shows or events or celebrations. It’s an endless today, never tomorrow”.
Let me begin by providing you with a textbook explanation of what “future tripping” is;
Future-tripping, also called anticipatory anxiety, is part of the human condition of peering into the imagined future and anticipating the outcome.
Future tripping is this idea of constantly looking ahead, looking at all the things you want to be doing, planning on how to get there and being so focused on the future that you forget to focus on the now. Now I can hold two hands high in the air and say I am definitely guilty of this. I love a bit of planning. Who doesn’t right? I love thinking about the future and thinking about the way I want to go but sometimes I do it at the expense of right now so for this month’s blog I just want to remind both you and me to not look so far into the future that you don’t live for now.
I think future tripping can be especially tempting when you’re not currently enjoying the chapter that you are on right now but just because you don’t like your current chapter that doesn’t mean it gets axed from the book. I think it’s so tempting to skip the pages when you not enjoying the current chapter but your current chapter makes up part of the whole story so whatever chapter you’re currently on, remember that you are writing that chapter right now and if you are so focused on the future your current chapter might just look like somebody looking into the distance. It isn’t about getting a certain distance but it is about knowing that you have more power than you know on your everyday life. They might be small but there are tiny things you can do to improve your day today. There are things that you can do to improve your current chapter.
In any good story there’s some action that happens to take you from one chapter to the next, so whatever your life looks like at the moment, no matter how much you want to escape the current chapter, see what you can do to make things even slightly more bearable and on the flip side, if you are loving your current chapter make sure you record it somehow because there might be future chapters to come where you forget just how you feel at the moment and you might just need a bit of a pick me up.
So, here’s to trying to focus on the current chapter rather than the end of the book. Here’s to focusing on where you are right now and here’s to being really compassionate with yourself when you find yourself getting lost in plans for the future because it is so tempting, it is so easy to do and sometimes it feels a whole lot more enjoyable but you are here now, you have more power than you know you do and this chapter might actually have a surprise ending, as cheesy as it might sound you are the heroine of your own book and you get to write the story.
Let’s be honest, being present sometimes feels like a chore. It sometimes seems easier to push ourselves to the end of the line, to view our life through a camera lens hoping to watch the replay some other time. Life is contracting before it expands; that squeezing sensation is the universe reminding you to trust, to open your eyes and look around. When you stop “future tripping” and pay attention to the glorious, messy, sometimes chaotic but always real life before you, the universe will respond bountifully.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”
― Mother Teresa
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The article is written by Leanne, Newly Qualified Counsellor at The DMC Clinic. If you would like to discuss how any of the topics mentioned above are impacting your mental health, please contact The DMC Clinic to arrange an appointment.