TIME TRAVELING: DESPAIR, HOPE, AND DREAMS reminiscing about the past; worrying about the future BY: Troy Murphy |February 2018
Adobe Stock Images
We time travel—journeying to the past and to the future. Not bound by the pull of the present, we escape. Slipping back to regrettable moments and daydreaming of a paradisaical future. We travel through the mires of the mind and get bogged down with guilt and worry. Our amazing minds have some bothersome drawbacks; but the time-traveling mind is an evolutionary king, giving humans a tremendous competitive advantage until we destroy ourselves.
Society continues to grow in complexity. To meet the societal demands, we must draw knowledge from the past and artfully prepare for the future. The novice adult must master the intricacies of money and time—both essential creations of a complex society. We budget by passing on a fancy dinner on the fifteenth, so we have enough money for rent on the thirty-first. This is accomplished by the time traveling mind, orchestrating choices by considering the future. Successful navigation of complexity and we reduce much of the anxiety. Learning from the past and preparing for the future refines choices, creating healthier relationships, better employment, and fuller lives.
The circumstances of our lives aren’t always pretty. We experience discouragement, anxiety, and pain along with the happiness, peace and contentment. Discomforting emotions have purpose, motivating movement, bringing attention to the ailing aspects that need to be addressed. Discomfort has many causes—poor choices, unfortunate events, unhealthy thinking, or destructive others. The pain usually has a prescribed recovery. We just need to figure it out. During recovery, when lost in the bleakness of current depressions, we must continue with hope, knowing a future holds something better—even if we don’t know what that something is.
Our powerful minds learn for the past, gathering wisdom from our stupidity and the stupidity of others. With learnings from the past, we plan for the future, working through possible setbacks before they occur; these skills are invaluable. The workings of the mind amaze but also deceive.
Experience distort and bias thought—traumatic past experiences frustrates clear thinking. Dreams of the future may disregard practicality, failing to gather the necessary skills and resources for fulfillment. Instead of creating accurate maps to fulfillment, miscued hopes serve as an escape from present realities, disrupting the mundane but essential tasks for progression. A pattern of failures protrudes on the mind, interfering with effective thought—encouraging outlandish dreams, strangling motivation necessary to make the small steps towards notable accomplishment. Past failures also can sidetrack present progress. Instead of learning from the past, we often dwell on it with regret, guilt or shame. These struggling thoughts fill our lives with despair, anxiety, helplessness, and depression; often leading to dangerous excursions into the darkness to find relief, ending in addictions and damning a bright life with distributing pain.
"A pattern of failures protrudes on the mind, interfering with effective thought—encouraging outlandish dreams, strangling motivation necessary to make the small steps towards notable accomplishment."
If we are aware of the downfalls of thought, perhaps we’ll recognize damaging time travels that interfere with the present. By identifying distortions, we can effectively address them. The longer we entertain unhealthy patterns of thought, the more entrenched they become.
No matter how far down errant paths we have traveled, we still can improve. We must shift directions, engaging in forgotten healthy practices that develop skills to work through the unknowns of the future. A few tools to assist are:
Present moment awareness
Engage in moderately challenging activities (Hobbies)
Focusing on small successes
As we recognize unhealthy thoughts and reset our troubled minds with new techniques, we can utilize the evolutionary advantages of thought and avoid the nasty pitfalls, creating a better present and a richer tomorrow.