Really, sometimes, I wish I could tell you what the future is. Other times I am really glad that I can’t because then there would be no amazing surprises or dastardly mistakes that make me laugh with joy. Those things can only happen when life is being spontaneously lived, and I never want to give them up.
Today’s blog post is actually about a thing I do that is really annoying (to me). It’s this thing where I try to see my whole future, and jump conclusions about how its going to feel and turn out. One of my friends calls it “jumping”. I think that’s a good name for this thought pattern that often stops me from doing what I desire.
What happens often when I jump is that I will get stuck on just one aspect of what I’m jumping about. The ability to see the bigger picture is not utilized and the decision I make is no longer objective because I’ve based it on what I’ve jumped to in my mind. Often, this has kept me paralyzed and I’ve not done what I want to do because of the made up consequences that were created in my mind. Most of the time those consequences did not actually happen, or life changed so much by that time that they didn’t matter anymore.
I have a most perfect example for you this week because my tendency to jump came up again in the one area of my life that I experience much turmoil. Though I’ve practiced relaxing in most areas of my life previous to the following conversation I was totally unaware that I was jumping…
I’ve gone back and forth for years on the education that I would like to pursue. I have an avoidance of University for a myriad of reasons that don’t need to be listed today, and so I’ve tried to think up and take “short-cuts”. As much as I dislike University I’ve resigned myself to attend in the coming year.
After much research and synchronicity I’ve decided I’d like to receive training as a counsellor.
Because when I grow up I want to be a Spiritual Counselor. YAY! Can’t wait for my first day!
Here is where I jump: from my research most jobs in this field require at minimum a Master’s degree. That translates into six years of school. I cannot STAND the thought of being tied down anywhere for six years. That just freaks me out. To me, it seems like an entire lifetime! My freedom will be compromised by my commitment of six years, and I will not be able to do anything that I want!
My friend whom I told this too started laughing.
“What?” I asked, tears in my eyes.
“Why don’t you just think about it in smaller chunks? One semester at a time rather than six years. It’s a lot more manageable that way.”
I thought about it for a minute, and began thinking about one semester. My body instantly relaxed. Then I thought about six years, and hew boy, my body tensed up. Back to one semester.
“I can do that.”
I love this! In that moment I realized that breaking things down into manageable tasks is a much more efficient way of thinking about my life. It makes everything a lot more feasible and not as scary in the long run. Life always is changing, and for all I know I might only go for one semester because some amazing once in a lifetime opportunity comes up and I choose to take that instead of continuing my studies. Perhaps I move to Australia, and continue studying there. Who knows?
The thing is, that too, is jumping into the future. There are things that I’ve not done or procrastinated because of the “What if’s” and there are things that I have jumped into without much thought. It takes a lot of practice for me to get it in the middle of not thinking too much which usually leads me to jumping, and of thinking too little which usually means I take on way more than I can handle.
In one year so much can change. It is much more helpful for me to stay in the present moment with tentative plans then it is for me to jump six years into the future and think about all that I might miss out on. By staying in the present more it is easier for me to take advantage of the opportunities that do come my way, and to follow my intuition to take the opportunities that are right for me.
A few years ago when asked what I was going to do for the next couple of years. I would answer “Right now, I am doing this. In the next month I do this, and in the month after I will do this. After that, I have no idea.”
I liked that. It kept my life open. I didn’t have the weight of commitments holding me down past where I could handle, which at that time was three months. At the same time it wasn’t necessarily the most healthy thing. I didn’t want to give commitments that were longer than a three-month span because of what might happen.
This held me back from anything I wasn’t one hundred percent gung-ho. I didn’t think of things as a pros and cons list, but instead as a feeling. If it felt right I would take the opportunity and go for it. I fought hard to be able to have the choice of following my feelings. As much as I would like to take every opportunity, I have learned not every opportunity needs to be taken. I can choose the ones that will serve me best and teach me what I desire.
University does not feel all the way right. I have concerns about it however, careful thought and consideration conclude that it is wise to keep my options open and if lacking a degree is keeping me back it would be a good idea to do something to remedy the situation…
Let’s re-frame the following:
The thoughts “To me that seems like an entire lifetime! My freedom will be compromised by my commitment of six years, and I will not be able to do anything that I want!” are examples of thinking called “All or Nothing Thinking” and “Over-generalization” and “Jumping to Conclusions – Fortune Telling” in Cognitive Behavior Therapy according to the class I’m attending at Bridges for Women. This thinking is a distorted way of viewing the world, and in my example I do indeed have a view that does not serve me well.
Let us re-frame the thoughts: Six years is not an entire lifetime, in reality it will go quite fast (it’s already been five years since I graduated high school). I will be quite busy in University. Many students transfer schools, go away for trips, and have many more amazing experiences while they are in school. Students begin and leave, they begin and stay. Life changes, school changes, location changes. It all can happen. If I don’t like it or it feels wrong I can always leave; there are many options available for my education, even within the University system.
That sounds much better.
Stayed tuned for next weeks super juicy blog post on Crooked Thinking & Limiting Beliefs! 🙂