All of us have good times and bad times. We would like our lives to always be enjoyable and happy, but problems are part of life too. Difficult situations are going to happen in our jobs, relationships, and everyday living, and we have little control over most of it.
What we do have control over is how we react to what has happened. The actual situation can cause the initial pain, but the story we make after the event causes more problems. If we can only let go immediately and not allow the story to develop, life will be much easier and less stressful. It is hard for us to let go, and we become worried, hurt, or frustrated. Because we cannot let go, we suffer, and the stress continues to grow. These reactions can be made into stories that we hold onto or project into the future, and we replay them time after time.
We could be recalling a difficult encounter we had with our boss five minutes ago, a misunderstanding with a friend that happened last night, or a terrible event from twenty years ago. These thoughts could make new stories, and they could go on and on.
Our mind could also be in the future. If only, we had a better job. If only, we didn’t have to work on Saturday. If only, our boss appreciated our hard work. We could also be worrying about paying the bills, our health, or a loved one who is late coming home.
Unfortunately, many of us live with past and future issues. We worry believing something terrible will happen, and it almost never does. We become stressed over what we did or what someone else did to us. Problems that happened earlier in the day come to mind, and we cannot let go. We look forward to the future, so that we can finally be happy and these thoughts rarely come true. Living in this story about past or future events is guaranteed to cause stress.
We cannot keep the mind from wandering to past and future events, but we can develop awareness that our mind is making a story. There is nothing wrong with remembering the past or planning for the future. The problem occurs when we are not aware that it is the past or the future, and we are living it as if it is happening now. Many of us are not aware that we are living in the past or future, because the stories we make seem so real.
These unaware busy thoughts cause stress, frustration, and illness. If we are aware of what we are doing and the thoughts are helpful, that is great. If they are causing stress, maybe it would be better to learn to let them go. This is where focus and awareness becomes helpful.