The Coping Kete

No. 24: Future predicting

This week, in order to attain, maintain or regain my sense of wellbeing…

I will practice noticing when I am predicting the future negatively and get used to balancing those thoughts out. This week, when I notice slight shifts in my mood, I will ask myself whether I am concerned with something that is happening right now or whether I am concerned with something I think will happen later. If it is hard to do in the moment, I will do think about it in hindsight at the end of each day.

If I find that my thoughts are mainly focused on future events, I will remind myself that ‘no matter how much I think I know, I cannot truly predict what is yet to come’. I will tell myself “I make the choice to have an open mind, to wait and see what happens”.  I will open myself to the new and unknown, instead of jumping ahead to the future and acting/reacting as if that future were present now. I will focus on what is actually present now in the current moment rather than anticipating what could be present in the future or playing out old responses to things I do not want to revisit from the past.

By remaining in the present and acting with awareness of it, instead of allowing my thoughts to move to the future, the future becomes much more fruitful.

I will reduce the negative power of future-predicting thoughts by allowing for the possibility of different outcomes and ensuring the ‘language’ of my thoughts includes words like ‘maybe’, ‘might’ and ‘could’ rather than using any absolute terms like ‘will’, ‘must’ or ‘always’. This week I leave room for the possibility that things will work out in a way that I can handle.

Once I am comfortable with noticing when I am future predicting and holding an open mind, I will add it to my Personal Coping Kete as a way of self-soothing negative thoughts about the future when I am distressed and finding things tough.

[Note: Holding future-predicting thoughts with conviction is especially common in anxiety and depression. They distort perception and work to shape what happens later in a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy that contributes to getting us stuck in a certain emotion and type of experience. We often do this when we think we know how others will react to us or predict that our performance or coping ability will be poor.]

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