Where do you live your life - the past, present or future?
Posted on 14th December 2016 at 07:45
If this seems like a rather strange question, bear with us, it isn’t meant to be. Instead it’s a gentle wake up call, designed to bring you back to the here and now. Confused? Then let us explain.
One thing we constantly notice with clients – as well as family and friends – is how little time most people spend in the here and now. The present moment. Engaged 100% with what’s happening in their lives RIGHT NOW.
True, they’re physically present, but their minds are miles away. They’re here in body but not in spirit.
Perhaps they’re thinking about events that happened in the past. Going over and over things that other people did to them. Or they did to others. And stirring up lots of negative and destructive emotions in the process. Anger. Resentment. Guilt.
Or maybe they’re thinking about things that may happen in the future. Letting their imaginations run riot, coming up with endless scenarios that are unlikely ever to happen. And bringing up yet more negative emotions. Worry. Anxiety. Fear.
If you can’t see this in yourself, we guarantee you can see it in others (!).
The questions no one ever stops to ask is why on earth they’re doing this AND, more importantly, whether it’s helping them in any way?
The past has gone. However much you’d like to change it, you can’t. Continually beating yourself up about things you wish you’d done differently, doesn’t change them. It simply brings them into the present and makes you suffer all over again. And again. And again. You remain stuck in the past without ever being able to change it.
Similarly, going over and over things someone else did to you in the past won’t change them either. If you think the other person must know what they did – and how it’s affected you – you’d be wrong. Chances are they’ve long forgotten about it – if they even realised at the time what they were doing – and have probably never considered the impact it’s had on you. All you’re doing is hurting yourself, again and again, with no chance of ever being able to change it.
The response we usually get to these observations is along the lines of: “You don’t understand what it’s like for them. What happened. The impact it’s had on them and their lives. How they can’t let it go”.
And, if it was something done to them, how they need the other person to apologise.
So they get stuck in the past, reliving the same nightmare until it takes them over completely. It becomes their identity, whether victim or perpetrator. What a waste of a life.
So what about the future? Well, the future has yet to come. There are far too many variables for us to know what’s going to happen. We simply don’t have all the necessary information to make an informed decision.
Added to this, worry, anxiety and fear all focus on the worst scenarios. While the words may be different, they are just degrees of the same thing. The things we dread and want to avoid at all costs. They don’t involve a logical look at the facts or a reasoned assessment of the situation. Instead our imagination runs riot, taking us off in completely the wrong direction. And, while all this is going on, it shuts down our logical thinking processes – not to mention creativity – both of which could come up with a solution.
The sad thing is that all this torment could be released at any time. True, it may be a scary thing to do at first, but simply NOTICING where your thoughts are will snap you back to the here and now. And this, after all, is the only place you can do anything about them.
Once you’ve done this just take a moment or two to OBSERVE your thoughts. Don’t judge them, just OBSERVE them. Be aware of what’s really going on in your head. You’ve probably never done this, but simply been swept away by all the emotions associated with them.
Then ASK yourself a couple of simple questions: “Are these thoughts helping or hindering me?” AND “Do they make me feel happy or miserable?”
By SHINING A LIGHT on them they can no longer torment you. It’s like turning on the light when you were a child, banishing the imaginary monsters you thought were hiding under your bed at night.
Now that you can see what’s going on in your head AND that it’s not helping you in any way, just let them go. IMAGINE them floating away into the ether, no longer part of your life.
Carrying the past around with you is like going through life loaded down with excess baggage. It’s exhausting and crushes all the life out of you. The only time to briefly revisit the past is to learn the lessons from whatever happened, to decide to do things differently in the future. And then to come back to the here and now.
Worrying and being fearful about the future is like trying to fight shadows. You can’t. There’s nothing to get hold of and you can never win. It’s just another distraction and waste of your life. And never confuse them with logically considering the problem and coming to an informed decision. They’re completely different beasts.
The bottom line is that you’ve always dealt with whatever happened in your life and will be able to do so again in the future. So why waste time worrying or being fearful about it now?
So what does that leave us with?
The present. The only place you can do something to influence what happens in the future, to let go of the past. It really is that simple and, yet, so many people seem to have forgotten this.
Living in the present makes life simpler and happier. After all the present moment is the only place you can live your life. And, as an added bonus, if you’re finding that time seems to keep going quicker and quicker, it provides an instant antidote.
Spending time going over the past – or chuntering about the future – simply wastes the present, whisking you away for hours on end. By remaining in the here and now you instantly have more time and, even better, it seems to slow down too.
And how do you do that? Just by focussing 100% on whatever you’re doing right now and leaving the past and future alone. It really is that simple.
As always, the choice is yours.
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