Finding Peace When the Future Overwhelms You


Have you ever been so consumed with an aspect of your future that it affected how you lived your daily life? In trying to discern the best “today” for the future, we may project the potential result of our decisions far beyond what could even be possible.

It’s normal to expect that we will encounter aspects of the future that we cannot control, such as success in jobs or schools we’ve applied to, changing friendships, witnessing or being affected by the decisions of others, or changes in circumstances that we cannot predict throughout different life stages. Even if our loved ones are going through change, we can still feel the pressure of wanting to support them well.

How can we stay level-headed when we’re tempted to continually focus on the future, especially when it might come at the expense of being present today?

A few things we can be conscious of:

We can be aware of our desire for control.

We may feel insecure in situations where events do not unfold according to how we imagined them. When that happens, we need to remind ourselves that we are not expected to (and cannot possibly) fully know what will happen in the future. Are we hesitant to think that something can’t be good if it were unplanned? Perhaps we can think of times when we were met with unexpected results that actually worked in our favor when we could not foresee them coming.

It’s likely that many aspects of the future can be both outside of our control and good in ways beyond what we could have imagined.

Are we hesitant to think that something can’t be good if it were unplanned?

We can acknowledge any idea of what is expected of us.

I recently, unfairly, shared with a friend that she was not acting in a way that I had expected her to be. In my ignorance, I was seeing her through a lens that did not allow her to change, and could sympathize if someone had placed me in a similar situation.

What gives us a right to determine who we think others are or whether they fit with our idea of who they should be? We may have a mental picture of the future based on society’s expectations or those of our family, friends, colleagues, or whoever else’s approval we desire. We may even find ourselves imposing those expectations on our loved ones, but assuming that the future should be defined based on today denies ourselves — and others — the grace to change.

We can recognize that we may not know what the best timing is.

If we have ambitious goals or an idea of where we’d like to be by a certain time, we may not want to waste time in the process of getting there. The process can turn out to be a lot longer or surprisingly shorter than we imagined, and we need to trust that such a possibility could be better than what we would have wanted.

For those of us who may feel pressure to be confident when we are actually unsure, time can bring clarity as well as serve as a learning period until the “right” time. When we’re pressured to wish that the future could come sooner, let’s remind ourselves to see the present as a worthy and needed learning experience.

When we’re pressured to wish that the future could come sooner, let’s remind ourselves to see the present as a worthy and needed learning experience.

We can avoid overanalyzing every single possibility.

By nature or profession, many of us may be skilled in our ability to research, whether it’s in our jobs, our relationships, our homes, or through change. A healthy amount of analysis can bring logical clarity. Have you, however, ever found yourself talking in circles about possibilities of the future without the aid of any helpful new information in a situation? We can also be tempted to project potential decisions down paths with twists and turns that may not be likely. If we do, let’s practice identifying a good stopping point when brainstorming or dreaming can bring us to a place where we are stressed or even paralyzed from choosing healthy decisions one step at a time.

Considering the future while still being present in the day-to-day can be a tricky balance, and it may require times of honest reflection. Let’s be women who are not preoccupied or obsessive about the future, but optimistic that we are doing the best with what we have each day.

What are you believing when you tend to obsess about the future, and what do you wish you could believe instead?

Image via Becca Tapert

Sharon is a Texas girl living in Austin, TX who works in mapping. She loves birding, reading on planes, Dr. Pepper, and is curious about leading a thoughtful life.