What is Future Tripping?
One of the best tools in my betrayal trauma recovery toolkit was how to stay out of worrying about the future.
To say I worried, would be an understatement. Rather, I obsessed. I panicked. I triggered over the future. “What if movies” that played in my head about “what might happen”. What if he’s faking recovery? How will I know if he relapses? What if someone shows up at our door…?
This is very common in any kind of anxiety — especially in betrayal trauma, when the very thing that caused us the most fear, shock and pain, is right there with us, asking us to trust them again. But wait…you tricked me before, what if this is all just another elaborate scheme to gain my trust and steal from me again? I can’t go there again.
It’s a form of a cognitive distortion, that is “Predicting the Future”.
Why We Need to Get it Under Control
It’s very real concern — no doubt about that — and no reason for shame or embarrassment. But then our imagination takes that concern, adds some cognitive distortions and makes it “reality” about ourselves, our environment, and the future. We can’t take any real action to protect ourselves based on those movies and fears, but we can quite them down so we can focus on real protection – self-trust, self-care and rock solid boundaries.
(I dunno about you, but I don’t have a crystal ball! If you do, please let me know before the next lottery. 😁 )
However, we can learn new skills to combat this anxiety-generating thought pattern, with some common recovery tools. Feel free to print and laminate 🙂
Tips to stay out of future tripping:
1. Stay in the moment. “One day at a time” is a wise 12 step slogan. What’s factually going on right now? In this moment, are you working your recovery? In this moment is he either working his recovery, or are you safely boundaried away from him, so he can’t get into your head? Do you today, have a roof over your head, food to eat, water to drink and at a minimum an internet connection to a recovery community? Yes. Stay focused on smelling the roses right in front of you.
2. Don’t make rash decisions when in this mode, fighting these images and movies in your head. We don’t want other people acting on impulse, neither should we, Breathe and find your center, and think about your values.
3. Take the Future Trip Movie to another trusted person, your therapist, your recovery group peers, or a good friend where you can, “get it out” and let your friend pick your theories apart. Let them remind you that you can’t predict the future with any accuracy, especially when in the early days of betrayal trauma and anxiety and depression are high. Let your recovery community keep you grounded in today’s reality.
*Tip: When I was in between therapy appointments and group meetings, I journaled all my painful thoughts, to get them out. They looked different on paper/screen and then I felt differently afterwards. I went back with a yellow highlighter and marked all the “cognitive distortions” in my thinking (all or nothing, predicting the future, discounting the positive, “should” statements, etc.) It helped me get to a more balanced place of thinking.
4. Self-care – ramped up on overdrive without shame or apology. I said, “no” to what I didn’t want to do. I went where I wanted to go (beach, museums, art stores, etc.) and tried to eat better, go to bed earlier, journal, and do volunteer work to get my head out of “me” 24 hours a day. Whatever that looks like for you, do that, do it well and do it a lot.
5. The best way to predict the future is to create it. Instead of worrying about the future, create a vision of what you want it to look like. Create a vision board. Journal about it. Scrapbook it. A common thread between people who experience post-traumatic-growth is having a vision for who they want to be on the other side of recovery and what they want their life to look like. Don’t be a slave to “what if”. Instead create, “it’s possible to…”.
Recovery boundaries support group. Get support for boundaries to guard against gaslighting, blame, denial, minimization, manipulation and isolation.
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