“Do not dwell in the past; do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment” said the Buddha. And again and again, we are told to carpe diem, to seize the only thing we have, the present moment.
Still, we are obsessed with what the future could bring, living in a constant planning state of mind. We neglect the present and focus all our energies on what is yet to come. At work, where we assume that our careers can be predictable, we have the illusion of planning our future if only we take the right steps and behave in certain ways, neglecting the tyranny of contingency -the elements of uncertainty that rule all events in our lives. And in the meantime, we lose connection with what matters and we let go of meaningful and joyful interactions which could in any way jeopardize our plans for the future. We are elsewhere; our body is rooted in the now, but our minds are skipping to points in both the future and the past.
And the actual effect is even worse, because many times we magnify our losses, looking at what we left behind in our pursuit of a successful career, locking on to the most consequential moments, and skillfully editing the dull or uncomfortable parts of the past. Therefore, we construct sequences that feel a great deal meaningful than the settings that have generated them.
Much of what ruins the present is the sheer anxiety of what the future will look like for us. The simple dread of the unknowingness of what is to come. And therefore, learning to live with uncertainty might be a way out to the anticipation of an appalling future that, on the other hand, most of the times never realizes. As my dear Grandma used to say, “one can waste their lives by worrying about things that will never occur.”
Accepting that our careers, as we normally do with our personal lives, are not under our full control, planning alternative reactions to different and changing scenarios, working on our resilience skills, on cognitive restructuring -maintaining perspective and learning not to control events but how to respond to them, avoiding setbacks to impact other unrelated parts of our lives, are just some examples of psychological healthy ways out.
Learn more here
Artwork courtesy of FRG Gallery