Timeouts.

I had a significant realization when I first began going to counseling in 2018.

At that time in my life, I was frustrated about the lack of connection I felt with those around me and felt like my reflection wasn’t getting me anywhere (I had just started practicing active reflection).

My counselor stopped me in the middle of my rant and asked me a question:

“Do you feel like you are experiencing life?”

I stopped to think but wasn’t quite sure what she meant.

She said, “You can’t truly experience life if you are not mindfully in the present moment. It is good to reflect, but if you are constantly looking behind you, you won’t be able to truly experience what is going on right now around you.”

That was an emotional moment for me.

A moment where I realized how I was not only lacking the experience of life’s moments, I barely felt like I was living at all.

Strictly overthinking, anxious, and stuck in the moments that just happened instead of the moments that are here now.

So, as you may have seen over the past few years, a common theme in my posts has been “presence”.

Maintaining that focus on experiencing the moment, then reflecting on those moments when the time is right.

Mindful, with balance.

Now, fast-forwarding to today, I had another strong realization last Friday.

Although I created mindfulness when my mind gets stuck in the past, I never considered what I would do when my mind is stuck in the future.

As an active planner and organizer, I am constantly trying to set up my week, month, and year in a structured way.

Anxiety builds inside me when I don’t have something put in place, so I tend to become hyperactive when anxious.

Trying to fill every little piece of free time with productivity.

Last Friday, I was stressing myself out beyond measure.

  • I had just finished a week at work where I was learning a lot of new things through some webinars and I am tested on this information in January. I was constantly planning that week my study times for the coming month and how I would structure this studying.
  • The holidays are coming up and that means coordinating family schedules and Christmas gifts. I spent a lot of the week buying gifts, scheduling times with family, traveling, etc.
  • 2023 is around the corner and I like to have all of my events, work, holidays, and birthdays in my calendar so I can be prepa-

TIMEOUT.

Time. Out.

On Friday, I out loud said “timeout” as I felt I was reaching a breaking point.

My mind was spinning in circles all week, like a hamster in a wheel, constantly searching for an end that would not come.

I sat down and began to write this post on Friday, simply just to call timeout.

Today, I feel like I can really grasp that timeout.

I called timeout for a few reasons (my brain was tired, I needed to focus on my task at hand, etc.), but the main reason was that I became aware that I was not being present.

So, what did I do?

I wrote down the “Where, What, When” – some of the facts of the moment.

Simply trying to activate my senses, I was able to just breathe.

Focus on what is physically happening around me, how that moment made me feel.

In tying his together with how I address my mind when stuck in the past, there are a few questions that reign true for a mind that is stuck in both the past and the future:

  • Do I need to be reflecting/planning right now (at this moment)?
  • Is this reflection/planning helping my anxiety?
  • Am I currently experiencing this moment in time/life?

If the answer to any or all of these questions is NO, then I begin to tap into my senses.

Feel. See. Smell.

Begin to take in what the world is giving me at that very moment.

Whether I am alone in that moment or with others, that mindful timeout can make all the difference in truly experiencing life.

That’s all I want to do, really.

I want to experience life, not just be living.

I want to feel, see, smell, hear…

Reflection and planning can be helpful tools for learning from the past and building toward the future, but nothing beats the present experience of life.

Let’s breathe.

NS

“I believe a few words can change your day and your life.”

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