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I have the same issue and have to physically stop and sit down, look around take a deep breath and think, "this is good, today the sun is shining, my kids are happy, we are healthy, ...." and just sit there for a couple of minutes thinking about how good I feel that minute just being there. Sometimes I will just go and sit in the sun and feel the sun on my skin and do the same thing, think about the good things in my life, not about all the stuff I need to do. It usually only takes a couple of minutes, but it can recharge my batteries for the entire day.

I try... but am not always so good with living in the moment...

I have battled with this all my life, and it took a health crisis with my son last year to finally help me turn the corner. All the worst case scenarios I watch out for all. the. time, seemed very close and my body and mind finally screamed ENOUGH!
Anxiety means constantly looking out for the predator, trying to predict the future to make sure you are prepared, and worrying about the past and your perceived failings ('could have done that soo much better, shouldn't have said that' etc).
I eventually found that I was literally missing out on my life, never in the moment.
My son is now presenting with this tendency, and I am determined to give him coping self talk now.
Sounds simple, but breathing really works. Real slow abdominal breathing and stopping throughout the day to take in every moment.
Have to say though, anxiety sucks.

I'm sorry, I don't have very many tips right now (and I struggle quite a bit with anxiety, so that won't help you much).

However, I'd just like to say this: Your children won't care that you're 60 when they're 20. I am 19, turning 20 in August, and my mother is 60. I don't care a lick that she is. Sure, it's a little different knowing that my parents are older than all of my friends' parents, but to be honest I wouldn't trade them for the world! I wouldn't know what to do with younger parents anyhow-- I already know the stupid 50s jingles they infect my head with; what would I do if they changed decades on me?

Just one thing: Try very hard to keep yourselves in good health, since you are older parents. The only thing that ever disappoints me is that I can't do more active things with my dad-- he's overweight (not even obese), and he has joint problems that cause him a lot of pain, partially because of his weight. I miss being able to go out in the yard and just play a game of catch, and playing Frisbee as a family, because we can't do things like that anymore. That's the only complaint that I have about being the daughter of older parents; I love them more than I can say, and yours will love you just the same.

Sweet Tertia, the answer is very simple, putting it into practice is a beast. I too, suffer from "What if" syndrome, and find it hard to not micromanage every moment cause "what if" is lurking around the next corner if I don't. However, a simple statement, constantly rattled off in my head at least allows me to enjoy now, and yesterday, and the excitement of tomorrow.

What can I fix/do about it right now? If the answer is nothing, I drop it, I don't allow myself to dwell any further. If it nags at my mind, I actually put it on my calendar to reexamine tomorrow, or at a further, more appropriate date. I actually have a scheduled melt down coming in a couple of months, cause my youngest daughter is going to start high school. I have to really stay on myself, really crack the whip so to speak to stick to this mantra, but it works, when I let it.

The other trick is simple mind games. I have mental sticky notes. When I leave home, for work, shopping, etc...I put a mental sticky note on my tree outside. On that sticky note is "home problems" when I leave, I pick up the one left when I got home the last time from wherever I am going. For example, work...I leave work outside on the tree when I get home, when I leave for work, I pick that note up and leave home on the tree. Home is there when I get back, and work goes back on the tree, cause it doesn't belong at home.

The tricks are simple, putting them into practice takes dedication, and perseverance. It won't always work, and that is another break to give yourself. Give yourself three strikes each day that you can use to...worry, stress, melt down. We all need these moments too, just not during every moment of every waking moment, and most of our sleeping ones too. It has for years been the curse of a woman to do the worrying. Yes, men have typically gone out into the workforce, bring home the majority of the income and have that stress on them, but women have to plan for the man, cook, clean, iron, schedule both social and work functions, take care of the kids, educate the kids, keep the household budget, know when trash pick up is, oh, and take care of ourselves, as well as frequently hold down a responsible full time job outside the home. Of course we worry ourselves to sleep. Of course we are always looking around the corner for the next oil slick that will take us and our loved ones out of circulation. We just can't let that rule our day.

Good luck, can't change ourselves in a day, but by the time we die, we will be perfect....

Tertia, you have to focus on the right priorities, and the rest will fall into place. You'll see. Just make sure you close the damned cupboard doors (and drawers—I'll bet you don't close drawers either) and you will find yourself living in the moment. The doors! Everything follows from the doors.

Please give my regards to Marko. I know what hell he goes through, living with a leave-doors-open person.

I think that you have to recognize the difference between worrying and planning. Planning is necessary, worry is not. For me, I don't let myself continue on a topic that is already resolved. I plan something, review it fully, and redirect myself if I continue to focus on it.

Eckharte Tolle's book "A New Earth" was good for me, especially with the Oprah's free webcasts. After all a new Mum has plenty of time to read right? Hmm, maybe later you can have a look at it. Tolle says that a single conscious breath is a meditation. Maybe you have time for a few conscious breaths, just focusing on your body or maybe something in nature?

Amn old trick that works for me just a little gratitude list each day 3 oir five things you were grateful for that day. Iam much more content when I do that..

Echo everyone else, same problem. Agree particularly with Not On Fire, and this is what my therapist and I have focused on. Planning is essential; prepare for as much as possible, don't procrastinate about doing so, and then don't dwell on what you can't control. My internal justification used to be, "If I always expect the worst to happen, I'll be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't." But then I was never able to enjoy the pleasant surprise of the moment.
I hate to say this, because you've made it clear how much you hate it, but regular exercise really does help. Isn't there anything you kind of enjoy -- swimming, dancing, jumping rope?

I am a "what if"er also so I don't practice this as much as I should but one thing I like to do is imagine that I am remembering what is happening right in front of me. Does that make any sense? I am so afraid that when my kids are grown that I will forget these little things. So sometimes I imagine that they are grown and I am looking back at how sweet and small they were when they were little. Sure, the house was a mess, we were tired but look how young I was and look at how happy! Listen to that baby laugh!

For that matter, I try to remember the real past - things that I worry about now that I know I worried about last year and the year before. Housework piling up, bills, money and I realize I can't remember specifically any one thing that had me so perturbed then. For that matter, I'm still here, worrying about the next thing so those previous things didn't do me in, now did they?

Its all kind of abstract so I don't know if my explanation makes much sense. It is just what works for me.

Like you, I am a first born child, and I think that the "what if'ing" comes with th territory. It has been a life long struggle for me; times when I was so happy, I would suddenly turn into despression becaue I was so afraid of the other shoe dropping.This was especially bad when I first got married, both of my babies were born, etc.
Now, i think I am learning the difference between the times that feeling is actually a warning of something and when it is my inabilty to accept that just maybe, I have actually hit the jackpot :o) I think that there is a subtlety between the two that comes down to differentiting between knowing that there is always the possibility of something hppening, but not dwelling on it beyond recognizing that there would be a solution to it.
That said, in November, I nearly lost my 2 year old daughter. Within the span of a few hours, I went from having this incredible little family, with another secretly on the way, to thinking I was losing my daugter, to then coping with the idea that she would live but be permanently disfigured. darkest, scariest moment in my life. BUT like my middle child ( better adjusted husbnd) coached me at the time, the time before my daughter came our out of anesthesia was my time to grieve, after she woke up was my time to soldier on. It worked. I used the time to come to grips with all of the "what ifs" of our new reality, then it was time to go into action mode.
I KNOW from reading your blog for nearly 5 years that youarea ction oriented as well, so maybe this would wor for you too. I just saw that once I recognized all of teh waht ifs in my mind, instead of being terrified of them, I shortly thought of whatI could do to manage those what ifs, make them less horrible than they could be ( if people are going to tease my daughter, Ic an focus my parenting skills on teaching her to have a sense of humor about such things, for example). Once I accomplished that, I was ble to start looking at the positive parts of teh experience- or what could have been worse ad be thankful ( se didn't lose her eyeball,she is healing better than expected, etc.). So now, somedays, I get a moment of mama anxiety about her future...I see he scars from a certain angle, ad I have a "what if " flash of scary, sad things he future may hold. But then i get a hold of myself, I look at how incrediby bravend confident she is, and I resolve to turn my what if'ing into preserving that confidence in her, finding ways if neccessary, so regardless of teh "what ifs" she is prepared.
It is awesome to see how this new mentality has begun to apply in other areas of my life as well. Initially, I became terrified for this new baby- waiting for he other shoe to drop- but now I feel very zen.
You have dealt with the worst thing a parent could ever face, and you have survived it. You have built a beautiful family and life- so just keep that i mind. If you can handle those things, then all of the "what ifs" ( though they may hurt) wouldn't stand a chance...if they ever came to pass in the first place.
ps- sorry for taking up so much space, this is just very dear to me right now

I had a therapist suggest something so simple but, for me, very effective. When I start of the "what ifs", I force myself to give equal time to ideas like "what if it works out fine?", "what if the money situation is fine?", "what if having a third child turns out to be the best decision of my life?"

Also, I think of the women in this world who are living my disaster "what if" senario right this minute...not to make myself feel guilty (because guilt is both self-centered and useless) but to remind me that my life is an embarrasment of riches and that even a non-religious gal like me thinks it's sinful to turn my back on that to induldge in the bad habit of "what if"

More than that, reminding myself that there are so many living my worst "what if" senarios helps me channel that wasted "what if" energy into making a donation, schuedule some volunteer hours, write a letter to a lawmaker or gather up clothes/extra food in the pantry to drop off at the food bank.

Oh, I forgot to add what has helped me the most with breaking the "what if" habit!

I don't want my child to miss what is right in front of him. I don't want him to make the mistake I've made for so many years of thinking that worrying is some kind of magic protection against the bad stuff.

No matter how well we think we hide our anxieties, those little buggers pick up on all of it. So I had to break the habit. And it was hard. And I still fall back into when I'm stressed (like, say, with a move and a new baby?) but it is easier to break the habit each time I do it.

Big smooches to Max, Kate and Adam! They are so darling!

Tertia: Thanks again, as always, for your lovely posts. I live in the moment by assessing my day at the end, and thinking about how much I laughed or smiled or held my loved ones close. And my husband and I often check in with each other to remind each other of how lucky we are. It takes some effort, but not too much, and knowing how good I have it makes me even happier. For those of us who have deeply despaired, for whatever the reason, the joy is all the more recognizable and poignant.

I am so totally enjoying every single moment of my life. I'm filled with gratitude. Honestly? I think it's the Prozac talking.

Four years ago I checked myself into the psych. ward of a local hospital due to crippling depression that was spiralling down into psychosis. The cause was apparently a perfect storm of sleep deprivation, postpartum hormones, perimenopausal hormones, and family and personal history of depressive episodes. After a week in the hospital, I emerged on new meds and was a new person. I haven't had a single day of depression for the last 4 years. And, well, my husband is wonderful, my kids are darling, I love my part-time jobs, I'm healthy, have great friends, and lots of stuff to be proud of, and lots of stuff look forward to. What's not to enjoy? I think my relief from not being depressed anymore has made me a little giddy.

Oprah thinks you should keep a gratitude journal or some such new age thing. I don't do that, but I do have a mental list that I drag out every so often of all the things I'm grateful for, and it truly boggles my mind to consider all the amazing things on the list.

I force myself daily to see the good in it all (and need a kick in the butt to start an online journal about that very subject.)

And most days I do. If it were I that had an unexpected pregnancy as you did I would see it as my calling. The way I was supposed to go. (I love babies. At 43 I would have another if not for snip/snip hubby!)

Thanks for letting see I am not alone in wondering what if.. and all that..

Life it is what we make of it right? We have our good days and bad. We have to just keep on trying to score on those good days that inspire and get us through the other stuff :)

Start being in the now just when you are waiting in front of a red traffic light. Just sit in your seat, feel your body, focus on your breathing and just be right there in the moment. You absolutely have nothing better to do. When the light turns green don't forget to drive on.

Once you've mastered the red light (hope you have lots to practice on) do the same exercise while you are doing one of your household chores, for instance hanging up the laundry. Just focus on what you are doing, your breathing and nothing else.

Slowly you can add more and more simple moments in your day. And also read Eckhart Toll, the Power of Now, Oprah loves that book.

Something that helps me is to remind myself that one day I will look back at this time, when both my children were small, and I will think of it as 'The Good Ole Days.' I will probably remember this as the best time in my life, the time I would want to go back and relive despite the short nights and the days filled with endless household chores, the worries about money, etc. It makes me feel guilty when I'm not appreciating the good things about having small children and wasting time focusing on the irritating stuff. The memories will be even better if I can remember enjoying this time.

Hi Tertia, i read your blog religiously but have never posted a reply. I've written you hundreds of emails telling MY story but always ended up deleting them. This time though i felt really obligated to respond. Like yourself and so many others i too lived my life being a "What If" person, until i came accross the author Paulo Coelho. His books and experiences have really changed my life. I don't want to bore you with advise and MY life, but i would strongly suggest you read two of his books in particular.
Veronica Decides to Die
The Alchemist

My father always taught me "DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF" ...say no more!

Try to relax a bit I know this is a difficult one for you,but life doesn't get much better than where you are right now.....3 kids,great hubbie,house,job,etc.....Enjoy for all too soon the kids are grown up and leaving home and you are looking at Retirement places and Zimmer frames...LOL X Debbbie

Every day I wake up free of a degenerative disease or cancer is a good day - a great day. Every day I wake up and don't hear that my kids have chronic, uncurable health issues is a good day - a great day. Health is everything - all the rest is just window dressing. I may die a lonley old cat lady (I'm 54 and I've been single forever and things don't look to promising in that regard) but if I get to keep swimming and riding and running and I get to bounce grandbabies on my lap I'll die happy. Very happy - hopefully of something that takes me out fast.

An old wise person, once gave me this pearl of wisdom when I was newly qualified and really struggling with working in a trauma ICU where death and sadness were the norm.
She said:
" Know that you don't know" This helped immensely. We cannot know what is around the next corner, how our lives can change for the better or the worse in a heartbeat... therefore, live in the now. Relish in what you do know, what you do have.
Embrace the unexpected in the here and now of your day. It’s what sets it apart from all the other days before it.
Now go ahead and "Carpe Diem"

Here's my two bits:

1) Can I control it? No: give it to God and ask for prayer or help from others.
2) Yes: who else can I give this to? Open it up to others for help or a sanity check. Don't keep it in. You might realise when you have to give your worries to others that they are a little bit silly.

Or like me, you will find yourself unable to sleep, staring at your four-month old sleeping baby, worrying that she might be congested and have trouble breathing. Even though she's fine and you can see that with your eyeballs. God help me to take my own advice!

In my latest most favourite book "Eat, Pray, Love" (hope I got the sequence right) by Elizabeth Gilbert there is a lot about this. She says (something like): "We're constantly digging around in the past or poking at the future, hardly ever do we just rest in the moment..." Then goes on to tell about her friend who would travel and get to a beautiful place just to exclaim " Oh it is SO beautiful here, I have to come back here some day". (But you ARE here - duh?)
This is so typical of human beings, but I think its *amplified* when you've been through infertility. I'm very acutely aware of this now and trying to actively think about the many things I appreciate about NOW. Thats about the only lame advice I can offer :-|.
love, TT

I have the same problem, right down to the same "what if" words. I have come a zillion miles in conquering this in the last 18 months. It took my therapist and my doctor plus my working hard, but we did it.

First my doctor worked on finding an anti-anxiety med that worked well for me and that wasn't so sedating that I couldn't take it regularly. Then I took it 4 times per day without fail for months while I learned the technique, then 3 times, then finally just at night. Ultimately I have been off all anxiety meds (although I'm on other tranquilizers) for most of the last year. For me that med was a benadryl relation called hydroxyzine at a very low dose. I had to time it precisely so that it met my needs without sedating me.

Then my therapist worked very hard with me on learning to watch what I was thinking and to pay attention to "what if" passing through my head. First he made me learn to listen for it when I spoke, and gradually I learned to catch it while I thought. Each time I do I think "not allowed to think what if" and if I really feel I have to I answer it "if I lose my job I'll find another".

As I learned to do it I was able to wean off the meds. Now I still sometimes get anxious but I very rarely delve into what if.

I also have been taught to limit how long I'll think about something worrying me.

Sounds like a lot of work just for simple things, but it was a hard battle for me to learn this. And I am SO GLAD I did. I feel a million times better without those awful words chasing me.

Very good question - I find myself feeling like I miss the moment a lot too. And I was happy to read about the leaving cupboard doors open - it's been pointed out to me that I do that a lot as well. (glad to know it's not just me)

A good book on being in the moment is "The Power of Now" (I have to admit I haven't gotten too far in the book but it has good advice). I read his other book "A New Earth" and it touches on that as well.

Try and go back to the basics and focus on your body, your breathing, what you are seeing around you (really try look at it without labels as if you had never seen it before in your life)

So glad Max's arrival has gone so well. (and your recovery too) Give's me hope for what's to come.
My C-day is approaching quickly (July 2nd)- was worrying today because he wasn't moving much - DBTs (as you called them) but he's moving quite a bit right now.

Thank you for your inspiration and honesty. I faced a brief encounter with infertility and then I nearly lost my life just after childbirth last year. With help from my amazing therapist and people like you, I know that I can overcome anything. It's so easy to wallow in self pity and I did, but now I am able to look at my miracle son and I know all is good.

As per Kung Fu Panda (can you tell I'm a mom?):

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today...today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."

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