Staying in “the present” can sometimes be very difficult.
The mind is a wonderful yet often uncontrollable thing, and when it wants to it’ll wander off on its own, down paths that you aren’t necessarily ready yet to confront. The more you try to control it, the more it slips away, as if it’s mocking you for your foolish attempts. Being able to focus on the moment and the direct task in front of you is a learned practice, because the mind puts up continual distractions, either from your pass, or the future.
I had such an episode yesterday morning: I was going about my usual morning routine when I received an email from my coworker that she will be out sick for the day. Obviously, the first mistake was checking work email during off-work hours; nevertheless, the message from my coworker took me completely away from what I was doing at that moment, and right into a rather negative chain of thought.
It’s quite selfish, too: my mind immediately went to creating scenarios where the my coworker’s absence meant an increased burden on me. Perhaps work will get super busy, and the lack of personnel meant I’ll be running around like a madman, not getting a moment to breathe. What if today was the particular kind of day that everything at work goes to hell, and I’d be the one stuck plugging the hole on the damaged dam? I’d better get mentally prepared for such scenarios.
Mind you, this was at 9 AM in the morning, and I didn’t start work until 2:30 PM. What a monumental waste it is to worry about something that isn’t yet to occur, to negatively project outwards into the future what might happen. What if things turn out to be okay? None of it is in my control until I get to work, so it’s rather futile and stupid to ponder on the possibilities and be stressed over them. There’s really no utility to it, but the mind is going to do what it is wont to do.
It takes practice to be able to snap out of such thought processes, to detach and evaluate from a macro level. Does this matter right now? If the answer is no, then I know to stop worrying and return to what I was doing. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong; I’ve a bad tendency to create worst case future scenarios for myself, and it’s a constant struggle to calm myself down, to not be so attached to outcomes that most of the time won’t even materialize.
As always, it’s a work in progress.