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Tug ‘O War

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Today I found myself caught in a tug ‘o war.

On one side: I was stuck in the future: So many projects happening all at once. I was thinking that maybe I’ve put too many irons in the fire at one time. How am I going to get ‘em all done? How can I do ‘em all well? Filled with anxiety.

And then, of course, I also found that I’d been dreaming about the potential success that these projects bring. The accolades that could be/might be there.

On the other side: I was trapped in the past. I could see so many missed opportunities. I could see things I should have done differently. I was playing the “If only I’d…” game.

And then, of course, I also found myself basking in the sweet memories of things that have gone well. Things that went according to plan. Or even better than I’d anticipated.

The problem with all of this? I wasn’t moving! I was stuck! 

It’s like BOTH sides of the rope had an equal pull.  Both sides were locked.  And so was I.

After what felt like HOURS of sitting and fretting and daydreaming, I realized what was happening. So I had to stop. And breathe.

And I took a strum break. The sound of those four simple strings always helps to bring me back to the present moment and helps me to focus! (And to be totally honest, sometimes I find myself calming down just by looking at an ‘ukulele. Simply knowing it’s there brings a smile to my face.)

I had to remind myself that the only reality is the present moment.  

Yes… I have a lot of things on my plate. But fretting about them or dreaming about their potential outcomes doesn’t help me to move forward. Instead, I’m stuck.

And likewise, worrying about things I’ve done wrong in the past or basking in the glow of past accomplishments doesn’t move me forward, either.

So I’ve set a timer to remind me to take conscious breath every hour.

And I’m keeping an ‘ukulele within arm’s reach.

And I’m making (tiny!) movements forward. One at a time today. But movement–any movement!– is good.

Movement is not stagnation.  And I’m grateful for that.

Right on.

*What do YOU do when you find yourself in a tug ‘o war between the past and the future?  How do YOU return to the present moment?

3 Responses to “Tug ‘O War”

  1. Nicole Thibadeaux says:

    Jason, we play tug-of-war here at my house alot! My version is where I look in the past to find clues of where I should go in the future – like they’re related. So silly! Looking outside all the time when we know where our personal answers are to be found.

    “Chailookyu eensai.”

  2. Lisa says:

    The present is where I can make a difference, it is my locus of control. I can’t change the past and worrying on it leads to disappointment and frustration, focussing and worrying too much about the future leads to anxiety and fear. The present is the place where fear and disappointment must take a back seat to action and life. Staying in the present, or moving back there happens through my own self talk, but sometimes it’s hard to get there. I don’t strum a ukulele, although that would be awesome, I like the timer idea, and need to definitely think about this. It would be good to have something that would help me keep and put my logical words (above) into action.

  3. Jason Poole says:

    Aloha e Lisa! And mahalo, thank you, for sharing your thoughts! Yup… totally agree with you. The present is where we can make a difference. The present is really all we’ve got, right? Much Aloha to you!