Another early exercise that I was encouraged to try was to categorize my thoughts into whether they related to the past; the present or the future.
It is about two years ago, very early in the integral coaching journey that I had started that this concept was introduced to me by my coach.
I found it very straightforward to classify my thoughts, and the feelings which they caused within me, into Past,; Present and Future by simply naming them as they came into my head albeit fleetingly or over a sustained period.
I also realised that it was possible to reflect back to earlier thoughts that occurred during the day in periods of reflection and to classify them at this time.
The technique is useful because I discovered that quite often my moods were being influenced by events that had happened in the past and their relevance was only useful to me insofar as I could do something in the present to either put a situation right, or accept things for as they are now in this present moment.
Alternatively, quite often my thoughts were about future fears and aspirations – over situations which had not actually happened and quite often in saying to myself “future” it reminded me that the events I feared had not occurred.
I could take a view in the present moment about what the risks of the issue I feared actually occurring and then think what I could start to do now to take steps for something to happen or not to happen insofar as I had the influence to control future events, which I have come to realise is limiting because an outcome often depends on the actions of others.
So, I am driving to work and I feel anxious – I ask myself what story is my mind wanting to communicate with me in this moment. I am reliving the horror of a situation in a previous role, with a previous employer, that caused me huge emotional turmoil at the time, and now many years later I am conscious that my confidence and need for recognition and approval are speaking strongly to me today.
My mind drifts into a future fear that this old story will at some point play itself out again in my life sometime in the future. It’s a living hell, until I say “Past” then “Future” for each category of thought.
It is in this moment – now in the present – that clarity is brought to my thinking. I tell myself that the past is history and I cannot change the past, I have to learn to manage my feelings of regret in the present by not allowing myself to be overwhelmed with fear about a future that has not yet happened.
I ask myself, what do I need to do today to change the narrative of the future.?
I ask myself, what do I have to do today to accommodate the past in such a way as to allow the story to inform the present ? – not from a place of regret and pain, but from a place of information and learning – so powerful!
I say to you – reflect in your mind constantly whether your thoughts are calling you back to the past or pushing you forward to a future yet to come and say the words “Past” or “Future” or “Present and make the thoughts powerful in enabling you to live in the moment with clarity of thought and decisiveness so that the choices you make are the best they can be for “now”
My next blog will be : The Ugly Duckling