Forwards, Backwards… I’m All Messed Up!

A couple of nights ago, I told my friend jokingly that “I’m always looking backwards instead of forwards!” And after thinking about that a lot, I’ve come to realize that it completely sums up my state of mind.

Actually, I wouldn’t exactly say I’m looking backwards in these daydreams-slash-borderline-fantasies of mine. It’s more of a forwards within which, I’m looking backwards. I’m not sure how common this phenomenon is to other people, but I’ll procede by assuming it’s on the rarer side.

If you’re confused as to what I mean by a forwards-backwards perspective, here’s an example. Let’s look at how I approach losing weight–I don’t recommend it, since so far, I’ve lost a grand total of -15 pounds (yes, that means I gained 15 pounds and yes, the freshman 15 is definitely not a lie).

It usually goes something like this: “Michelle, in about 3 months, you’ll be 20 pounds lighter and you’ll look back at this point in time as the moment that you decided to successfully lose weight.”

During an especially hard time in school, I’d picture myself at my college graduation, looking back at the character-building I suffered through and I’d be extremely grateful that it’s led me to my future successful self.

As you can probably guess, this mindset has led me to a vast amount of problems. By always looking backwards through my future self’s perspective gives me very little time to focus on the present. It’s actually a very good defense mechanism. I’ve actually managed to figure out a way to live simultaneously in the future as well as in the future’s past without living in the present! All the bases are covered except the one I’m living in now.

It’s another escapist thing! It’s me telling myself “get it over with already, I want to be reaping the benefits!”

In another way, it’s connected to the instant gratification complex that we all suffer today. We want things fast and we want it now; what we don’t want is to suffer the process of attaining our goals. Happiness is not found in the journey–it is the result of the journey!

We’re a bunch of big-picture thinkers and to hell with the details!

Wikipedia says that instant gratification is the opposite of deferred gratification, also called impulse control and will power and that in order for academic and adult-life success, deferred gratification is necessary. It then goes on to say that this ability is thought to exist in humans only. So basically, I’m an animal, rawr.

Fun fact: A famous character, Veruca Salt, is a prime example of instant gratification complex. “Give it to me now!” And now, the song is stuck in my head.

Well! Since I don’t want to end up like Veruca, I’ll have to change something. But this can be hard to change. Even though I know that I’m at fault with this mindset and that I’m at fault for wanting instant gratification, there’s no stopping it! Therefore, as always, I’m going to start out small.

I’m going to focus on one thing at a time. This will help reduce the big-picture thinking into smaller components that I can fuss over and worry about. By concentrating my focus on one small thing at a time, not only will I be able to do that one thing very well and efficiently, but it would also help my overall process. This turns the indirect mindset on its head–instead of thinking big and passing over the small things, which won’t help the big picture, I’m going to think small and pass over the big things, which will eventually help out my overall cause.

I’m going to try not to daydream too much in that perspective. Limiting the amount of time spent thinking about future me looking back will give me more time to focus on the present. I’ll need to be actively aware of when I’m doing it and stop myself.

I’m going to try to enjoy the process more. I’m not exactly how to accomplish this without using the lens I’d usually use… proving that I need to do this. I guess I can start with trying to find things that I can enjoy about the struggles… like trying to enjoy learning about new things, enjoying that I have time to myself in the library while studying. And in my quest of becoming healthier, I guess I’ll enjoy knowing that every day that I stick to it, I’m that much closer.

Do you often find yourself struggling with wanting instant gratification, or using the forwards/backwards perspective? If so, any advice on how to counter it? 


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