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Do you spend a lot of time worrying and wondering how things will work out? Will your mortgage become unmanageable as interest rates rise? Will your youngest child be ok on the first day of kindergarten? What would happen if your parent on blood thinning medication falls?

As high achievers we spend valuable time analyzing all the different scenarios that could happen and planning out how to deal with them. Often we get stuck in the future. 

All that fixating on possible negative outcomes doesn’t do our mental or physical health any favours. 

Living in the future is a common experience because uncertainty feels unsettling. Our brain is hardwired to value control and predictability. Thinking about the future allows us to imagine potential outcomes, which gives us a sense of control.

Constantly dwelling on the future can become our default way of thinking and reacting—leading to overwhelm, extra pressure and stress. Our thinking makes us feel bad because we suffer the pain of our catastrophizing even though the story we’re creating in our mind hasn’t happened and might not happen. 

That’s why a key aspect of the toolbox for high performance is about healthy ways to manage our thoughts, emotions and focus. If you find you’re spending too much time worrying, here’s three present moment awareness techniques: 

  1. Use the power of clarity: notice how your future thinking leads to unproductive results. When you see how unrewarding and unhealthy that type of habitual thinking is, it creates momentum to change it. 
  2. Noting or labeling: as you notice yourself get caught up in worrying and thoughts about the future, mentally note or label it without judgment. For example, if you notice you’ve been caught up in anxious thoughts, simply say “thinking” or “thought” in your mind and return your focus to the present moment.
  3. Mindful observation: choose an object and observe it attentively, noticing its details, colors, textures, and shapes as if seeing it for the first time. That will help you re-engage your focus in the present moment. 

Liane Wansbrough | High-Performance Coach

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