As humans, we have the amazing ability to “time travel” with our attention. This ability allows us to dream up solutions to problems large and small, and enables us to learn from our past. Problems can arise when the balance of our time is weighted primarily toward the future and the past. In this way, we miss our present moments, the only moments in which we will ever truly have influence. Most of what we describe as worry or anxiety is related to ideas about what might happen in the future. Much of what we describe as regret involves revisiting painful moments that have receded into our chronological past.
In my practice, I work to enable clients to develop or regain an appropriate balance between present, past, and future focus of attention. Feelings are not facts. It is possible to develop a mindful awareness and ability to flexibly respond to ideas as they arise, rather than to simply emotionally and behaviorally react to every thought that enters our mind. An unconsidered thought process can contribute to high stress levels, anxiety, depression, and anger. Learning to be aware in this way can be an important step in regaining a sense of calm even in the face of upsetting or painful events.