How to stop feeling like you are running out of time?
I am in my early 20s and boys, it is hard to not think about time without getting anxiety. There are not many things I am scared of but my biggest fear is constructed by 10 words - one question: “Am I the only one being left behind by time?”. I used to feel as if I was stuck in a unidimensional maze where walls were covered by those ugly moments of my past. My feet trod on opportunities I regretted not taking. It was so foggy that I could not tell what was waiting for me ahead. And in there, time kept moving while I kept coming to a standstill. If anything I have learnt from those hopeless moments, it will be instead of running blindly to find a way out, I should sit down and have a pep talk with myself first. And here is the pep talk I want to share with you:
They say hindsight is 20/20, I think only healthy hindsight is 20/20. You cannot escape a mental tangle only by looking back, panicking, and complaining about being stuck in it. You need to pause inner chaos first then carefully look into your problem - that’s what we call “reflection”. Healthy reflection starts with taking a break from what we do, paying more attention to our thoughts and actions and encouraging ourselves to look at them from different angles. When I catch my mind being drowned in all different kinds of toxicity, I sit down and ask myself:
“How am I feeling? Why am I feeling this way?”
“What am I scared of? Why does it bother me so much?”
“What have I done today? Do I like it? If not, why am I still doing something that I do not like?”
Self-reflection gives me an opportunity to build a healthy relationship with my inner world. It untangles my internal frustration, sorts out my competing commitments and helps me find the exit from my emotional tensions. Next time you feel like running out of time, press the pause button then start with a few tough questions and keep “why-ing” until you can finally justify the root causes of your feelings.
Put it simple, finding your own intention is similar to answering a question - “How do you want to live your life?”. People usually say they want to have a life of a successful expert in their chosen field. A few claim finding inner peace is what they dream of. You see, being intentional does not mean you always have to think long term or set big goals. It can be doing the little things that bring you a daily dose of joy: complete your to-do list, stress less, smile more, practice kindness on others, or have enough courage to stop doing what goes against your will.
I told myself that I would live a life with no constraints or boundaries - that is my intention for the 20-something years. So I turnt down an offer for a job I did not enjoy as much, I threw myself into exotic fields, I met new people and had a list of things I want to try out before I hit 30. Many of my latest decisions come after I realised how depressed I had been trying to redeem regrets from the past with a regrettable reality.
It is slightly hypocritical of those who say “Stop worrying about your past or future and start living in the moment” but never actually tell us how to do so. I used to find it hard to restrain myself from overthinking the decisions I made in the past, which triggered a series of panic attacks and caused me to waste even more time in the present. So I practiced some thought stopping techniques.
I give myself a little pad on the shoulder to draw my mentality back from falling down the “what-if” rabbit hole. I close my eyes, wiggle my toes, and count to three out loud whenever toxic thoughts are about to break into my brain. The less time I spend on pondering the past and future with negativity, the more I notice every moment passing by with the fullest appreciation.
Believe that you have enough time to live a life you want
At the age of 17, I never really listened or even tried to understand them when people say: “You still have a whole life ahead”. Yes, 17 was unbelievably young in a grand scheme of things. But what if by the time I am 75, I still will not have made anything significant enough? So I refused to listen to myself, I moved too fast forward without really understanding what I truly wanted, I rushed to come before someone or something. The results? I submerged my soul in distress, I constantly lived in fear of being left behind and I never believed I would ever have time to do something I wanted. It hurt me so much that at some point, I had to de-construct my whole belief system and started a long recovery process.
I remember reading somewhere that in order to nurture your belief in something, you may need to fake it until you make it. So I practiced reminding myself how lucky I was being left with plenty of time to spend every morning. I looked at my reflection in the mirror everyday and told her she had been using her luck fairly wisely. It felt as if I was overriding my brain. But my courage was gradually filled up and I came to believe that I am moving with time - not behind it.
I still get anxious sometimes when hearing people talk about how much they have and have not achieved in their years of living on Earth. But I finally understand, you would never have enough time to ponder the past with repentance or paint the future with pessimism. But you do and will always have enough of it to live a life with your healthy reflection, good intention, and balanced reality!
I am always a fan of "studying success", which means finding people that were once in my position yet managed to accomplish what I want to accomplish and listening to their own stories. If you have found your own way to stop feeling like your time are going wasted, please tell me at @The Hacker Collective!