Dr. Hick shines a light on a common problem: preoccupation with everything but the present. It’s time to shift focus and enjoy this moment to the max.
We’re all guilty of it. We work, work, work our busy selves away—on the job we love, the job we hate, or the career we are trying relentlessly to create.
We work so hard and for so long it becomes almost impossible to push the pause button, to “unplug,” to focus inward, and to take in the moment.
This drive to do more, be more, capture more—which my camera and I are definitely guilty of—keeps us in a perpetual pattern of looking towards an imaginary future, wanting to preserve (or document) the fun, blissful, one-of-a-kind moment—this moment right here—instead of Being. Present. In. It.
Fear. Our Good Friend Fear.
This will likely not come as a surprise to those who have been following my year-long series on Fearless Living in 2015: fear is at the core of this all-too common issue.
To catch up on what Living Fearlessly has taught us so far, check out my “how-to” basics, how to love yourself, dating fearlessly, how to rise in love, and most recently, how to take a fearless look at your relationships in order to renew them.
But how is fear involved in your difficulty with letting go and embracing the present?
Individuals I work with often get sucked into irrational, unhelpful thought cycles or traps (e.g., either-or, all-or-none, catastrophic, black and white thinking), such as….
- If I don’t get these emails out today, I will be forever behind
- If I don’t get this done today, I will lose my job
- If I don’t stay at work all weekend, I will miss my opportunity for a promotion
- If I don’t take pictures of my son/daughter’s every moment, I won’t remember them and I will miss the moment forever
- If I take time to rest, I will be even more behind than before
- If I don’t get my daily workout in every day, no matter the reason, I will fall off the exercise wagon for good.
- If I don’t throw the perfect dinner party or holiday gathering, attending to every detail at the expense of enjoying myself, others will be disappointed in me.
The list goes on and on…
These are just some of the thought patterns, which Cognitive Behavioral Psychology refers to as irrational beliefs or distorted thinking (Beck, 1995), that can lead individuals to experience some pretty unpleasant, unhelpful feelings, behaviors and interactions with others.
What is often at the core of these thought patterns is some sort of fear (e.g., fear of failure, fear of missing out (aka FOMO), fear of succeeding in a different way, fear of not being perfect, fear of not being everything to everyone, etc). This fear may differ from person to person, but ultimately it is a fear of some kind.
Unfortunately, today’s culture demands that we be on the go, ever-aware of what’s going on in the world, sharing with others (via social media), and constantly performing and achieving—so much so that it seems impossible to silence the chatter and conquer the fears lying below.
Ready to Embrace?
Review: Take a second look at the list above of fear-based thought patterns.
- What are the top three thought patterns you engage in?
- How are they helping you? (Yes, they can sometimes help you. Like in a situation in which you might actually need some rigor or discipline.)
- How are they hindering you and your ability to be present in the moment?
Reflect: In what ways have you been missing out on actual life because of your fear-based thoughts? What has been sacrificed in your:
- Personal experiences?
- Professional growth?
Reframe: What is the one thought pattern that historically prevents you from embracing the present, from basking in enjoyable holiday moments? What stands between you and the genuine experience of fireworks and watermelon?
- Not unplugging from work (e.g., phone calls, emails, tasks, etc.)
- Feeling compelled to document and/or share each moment on social media
- Needing things to be/go perfectly
- Difficulty being flexible with plans
Make a Plan: Identify one to two ways that you want to be mindful. How will you choose to focus during your celebration that will allow you maximum enjoyment of the present moment?
- Write it down—this helps reinforce your plan.
- Tell a friend—perhaps one who you will be seeing during the gathering.
- Set a reminder in your phone for slightly before the event. This will alert you of your goal, before you attend.
- Resist the urge to judge yourself if you lose touch with your goal. Reset as soon as you remember, and proceed with the present moment.
Now that you have identified the obstacles to relishing fearlessly in the fun summer moments ahead of you, you can mindfully plan to be more present in each and every potentially delicious experience. Go ahead, unplug and unwind—it’s Dr. Kristen Hick’s prescription for summer fun.
Reference: Beck, J. (1995). Cognitive therapy: Basics and beyond. New York: Guilford Press.
[image: via shutterstock]