Are you Future Tripping? If so Im going to share what you can do about it.
So in this episode, I’m talking about future tripping. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it before, but it’s a term that I came across recently. And it is exactly what it says on the tin.
I have in my past due to emotional triggers and situations been one to catastrophize not catastrophize everything. but things regarding health of other people, not my own health, but the health of others.
And this became a real issue in relationships that I formed. And certainly when I had children. My mind could go to scary places with this. And one of the things that “helped” me in this or I thought was helping me in this was a need for order and control.
And this was one of my coping mechanisms, but this in itself actually became an additional anxiety. And future tripping is the same. Now, this isn’t something I experience, particularly anymore. I have normal anxieties that you would expect. And I am able to notice when I start, or when I’m in a process of going down this particular line, but it’s key in many people, but particularly those who experience anxiety generally.
And it’s also referred to as anticipatory anxiety. And all of us do this to some degree or another. It’s part of the human condition of peering into the future and anticipating the outcome. Now, it isn’t always a negative outcome , future tripping can be positive, and it is something that we use in a lot of mind coaching tools, not so much tripping, but seeing a future and seeing ourselves in a different future.
Peering into the Future
When peering into the future and anticipating the outcome isn’t always negative, because our wondrous human brain gives us the ability to do either. And for a person experiencing anxiety either generally or over something specific, such as fertility, it is not always easy to see the positive.
So in the work that I do within my fertility coaching, and with the clients there, we look at this area if it’s relevant, and sometimes it might be that we delve in, and we travel upstream, and we find the initial event that cause this need for vigilance, a fear of the future a non positive outlook and we can address it. Sometimes we don’t need to find it, and we can use strategies to cope with it and perhaps change our outlook.
Whats happening in the Brain?
But before we look at this, you need to understand what’s going on in the brain. And this is really key to me because you have to understand what’s happening. You have to understand how your fertility works, you have to understand how your body works to be able to look at addressing change.
So let’s have a look at what’s going on in the brain. How the intrinsic design of us as humans, well as mammals, in the first instance, can’t adapt to the evolution of the human brain. The whole premise of the fertility rewire programme that I have developed is to indeed rewire it, rewire the fertility system, and rewire the emotional responses to today’s world, and our humaneness. So a basic intrinsic design, which will win out in any situation is the need for safety.
And so enter stage left our star player, the sympathetic nervous system. Its counter its other half , its working opposite is the parasympathetic nervous system. So this is the autonomic nervous system and it has these two states, the sympathetic nervous system is fight or flight and the parasympathetic nervous system is rest and digest.
We sit in rest and digest until we are faced with a crisis we are faced with a life endangering situation. That is the design. So when fight or flight is at play, and I’ve discussed this before, in terms of coming face to face with a tiger back in our ancestral day, we need to fight or run like hell to safety. And we’re designed to deal with this acute stress. It keeps us alive and we learn from it. Same as if you touched a wood burner and burned your hands. You wouldn’t do that again. Its tthe same with emotional pain. We learn from it and often what happens is we then learn to avoid.
But when this is regular throughout the day, repeatedly or constant, your body thinks that you are surrounded by actual tigers. Because it doesn’t know the difference your brain doesn’t know the difference between what’s real or imagined, you respond to emotions, which have come from thoughts and those thoughts have come from beliefs. And that belief is is triggered in the situation. The situation itself is backed, that is fact and cannot be denied. But the situation you are in leads to a thought often from a belief to an emotion and then there’s a response.
So what’s happening is at this point, your body is also shutting down non essential systems when in fight or flight. A bit like we’re experiencing now to be honest with our crisis management of the corona virus. non essential is a time used a lot. These systems that are being shut down or turned down are immunity, digestion and fertility. These are some of the big players. Also within that is, is the whole heap of hormonal interactions, the thyroid, the pancreas and its effects on insulin, the adrenals are at play and they need all of your attention. Because of course, none of these systems matter if the tiger gets you.
But as soon as the tiger passes as soon as the danger passes, your systems return to normal. So you probably need to get out of that Tiger pit right now. So how do we do it? Well, key player is the wondrous human brain, the part of the brain that makes us human the frontal cortex known for its logic and reason. It is not in play, when we are in fight or flight. There is no time for decision making. It’s instinctive, it’s primal. It’s hardwired you can’t make rational decisions in a state of anxiety.
So what is key in this state are number of things and ways that we can work through and support ourselves. When we step into future tripping. The first one I want to talk about is being present. Now, it’s not always possible to be present in the moment of anxiety, but with regular practice at being present in non emotionally charged times, we are able to develop this skill and utilise it.
One of the things that the Mindfully Fertile part of my programme brings is the ability to be able to notice thoughts. You are aware of your tigers, and this leads you to noticing your thoughts WHEN you are in the anxious moments. You are not always looking for your Tigers but you are able to respond and react accordingly. And sometimes that means letting them sleep. And sometimes that means being with them. And what this enables you to do is to get to the place where you can distance your thoughts, your tigers. So when I say distance, I don’t mean remove them, but in saying here is the thought that, here is the thought that I won’t get pregnant. Here is the thought that I won’t ovulate. In that moment you are acknowledging a thought. Not the real danger your brain perceived. So here is the thought that….. you distance it once I notice I am thinking the thought that……… you distance even further and this is what we call acceptance.
I always say bear with me, don’t I?
So acceptance is not a sense of giving up accepting, there’s nothing you can do accepting that you just have to put up with this. It’s a sense of accepting that this is what is happening. This is what you are thinking in this moment, and when we see these as thoughts, we diffuse their power, we dilute it basically.
Naming your thoughts
So something else is to name the thoughts. So back in my castrophising days, I was able to recognise it starting. And I would say, Oh, Hello, Miss catastrophe. But I think I’ve got this, nice to see you here, to be honest, not out loud.
And it’s something that I use with my son. He was about six and he went through I think I’ve talked about this before a hand washing phase. Which came with some anxiety. And he had Mr. Wash your hands say he would say, Oh, Hello, Mr. Wash your hands. No, I’m okay, this is all good.
This recognition and externalisation is really powerful, but you often can’t just start it straight away. You have to practice being present and recognising this in that non emotionally charged situations, which is why it’s really important to stick to a practice of being present. Just you know, regularly. So I’ve been treated. I’m doing big sharing today I’ve been treated on and off in the past for clinical depression. And one of the key areas that this has really supported me was in being able to recognise the feelings of depression or to be honest, the feelings of sadness or lethargy, which in fairness to anyone who has never been diagnosed with depression or has been taking medication, that’s hat’s how they might see it. They might see it as a sense of sadness of lethargy, or perhaps an understanding that this will pass. But for many if you have been diagnosed and treated before, you go down this spiral of, Oh, no, no, this is depression. Here it is again. And this is future tripping in full swing.
You don’t know that that’s what happening, but you’ve recognised it. It’s your wood burner, you’ve touched it, you’ve burned and here it is, again, and a really, really good book for this, there are lots of books around about mindfulness and the deep intricacies of it all, but ‘how to be human” by Ruby Wax and a neuroscientist whose name escapes me and a Buddhist monk is a really, really good book and I particularly liked it on Audible, but she talks about, through her depression to be able to recognise it and let it Sit with her. And this is a practice that I’ve worked a lot on and as I do with my clients.
Through practices around the cognitive process, I said earlier the situation the thought, the emotion, the behaviour or result, awareness of thoughts and being present, I am able to say, “Oh, hello depression, take a seat, sit with me. I’m just going to watch the TV today”.
Do you see how acceptance is not giving in? but accepting that this is how it is right now. Right now in this moment, and I do have a choice. So in effect, inviting your Tiger to tea. The Tiger who came to tea is one of my favourite children’s books, by the way, but perhaps you are taming your Tiger letting it sleep, not tiptoeing around it or in fear of waking it, but trusting that you have this.
They’re just there. You’ve invited them there. They’re under your request. So being present is one thing. And then being aware of thoughts is another.
Another is to seek help. If your car breaks down, what do you do? Do you ask for help immediately? Do you get out and have a look at it? Kick it around, maybe you try to fix it, maybe you try to do something beyond your limitations and beyond your control, or do you worry about what it might be or if it’s this that’s going to cost money, and then what impact will that have and I’m going to be late and this is going to happen, or do you seek the help of a prefessional iommediately?
I am not always a wise sage, personally, I just have to say that but I do tell my children and often when saying to someone else, it’s a self reminder. Because we are really good at recognising things in other people and giving advice because we’re set in that calm, rational state because it is not happening to us. So what I say to My children is, if you worry about it, you might have to go through it more than once. If you worry about it every day, you’re definitely going through it more than once. If you don’t worry about it and see what happens, you might not have to go through it at all. So it’s a bit like giving someone else advice, isn’t it? And what I’m trying to say is that you can turn that on yourself. You can get yourself in that calm situation. And you can give advice and you know why? Because when it’s someone else, your brain of logic and reason steps in, it’s not emotionally charged.
So I’ll give you another example.
I said about the car earlier, obviously with all that worry about the car breaking down, at what point do you call someone else for help? And are you still worrying about the future or do we wait and see what they have to say? Difficult to say? Unless you’re in the situation. Here’s another driving example. If you’re driving a car, and someone cuts you up, or a big one for me is you let them through and they don’t say thank you.
You might react. You might react quite angrily, depending on who’s in the car with you, but it stirs an emotion. It triggers something. It really triggers something that often goes deep deep back,
But if you’re the passenger, so I’m thinking about me sitting next to my husband when he’s driving. And, and I’ve spoken about this on the podcast with Alexia Leachman, actually about my trigger. If you’re the passenger and the driver gets cross, you may have some sage and rational advice. And here’s the thing because you didn’t step into fight or flight you didn’t step into the sympathetic nervous system. It didn’t affect you emotionally directly. It didn’t trigger something in you. You stayed in rest and digest and Oh Hello rational thinking!
This is another coaching tool that I use and you can selfcoach with this , one element is asking for help. There’s a lot of self coaching you can do with this. When you write down your thoughts and emotions, read them through.
And imagine a dear friend or relative is telling you this. In your sense of calm and reflection, your rational mind your solution focused mind can give some great advice. We then explore what prevents you. What prevents you from taking this advice. We explore your current your Won’t your shoulds and your should not.
Planning comes into this but rational planning which as I said earlier, requires the wondrous human part of the brain, who can’t step in until all is calm.
So when you’re faced with your tiger, it is not the time to sit down and make a plan.
It’s why crisis management requires crisis planning. It’s why we have fire drills. So we know what to do in an emergency. Practice can put something in place as a system as a system we turn to it’s something that we just instinctively then know what to do. Your brain says, Oh, yeah, we’ve done this before.
This is when we file out, it’s very different filing out of a building with a fire alarm for a test and a building that you think might be on fire. But that familiarity allows you to do it while you’re in that emotional response.
So This is Future Tripping, how to avoid it, or to recognise it and step in and be present. But as I said, You We’ll need learning to do that. Recognise your thoughts, write them down, revisit them as a friend and ask for help.
Do you experience future tripping? Has this made sense to you? Is it something that is at play often in your life and it might be a significant emotional trigger?
Is it something that really has come to the fore with fertility, which might be triggering a past emotional response? It might be.
But as all these podcasts and all the information I give to people, this isn’t just about fertility. This is about your health. And you cannot separate your physical and emotional health and you can see how with the brain this all inter plays and plays with each other.
If you want any more information about what I’ve discussed, fertility related or not, or you want to know more about fertility coaching, the mindfully fertile programme, or anything else fertility related or otherwise, just drop me a line, or arrange a FREE chat.