The present is where we are. But many of us don’t live here – we’re either fixated on the future or stuck in the past. And sure, we have a slew of reasons-slash-excuses as to why we cannot live in the moment. Some of us use the past to escape our reality or because it serves as a way for us to dwell in our misery. Some of us truly have no conscious idea that the past is menacing us. Whatever the cause, you’re wasting your life and only damaging yourself unless you choose to move on!
Here are a few ways to find yourself in the Now:
Go back to go forward
According to licensed psychiatrist Beatty Cohan, we cannot unconsciously forget the skeletons lurking in our closet. “Even though it’s not fun, a person must go back in order to move forward. While you don’t need to forgive someone in order to live in the present (for instance if you have been sexually abused) you do need to revisit what happened and talk about it. This allows for people to clear all the confusion surrounding the past and understand the reality of the role they’ve played or didn’t play,” adds Cohan, who is the author of For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love.
Cohan strongly suggests seeking the help of a competent professional to take you through this process. And if you don’t want to go back (even though you’re unconsciously still living there) she reminds us that the past will never be as horrible the second time around. “Understanding is the key to healing and living in the moment.”
Let’s say you’re in love with someone who ends up dumping you. A friend informs you that the relationship was so-so and that you’re really better off. Yet you find yourself obsessing about this person in terms of the past. Perhaps this is because you didn’t grow up with a model of what a healthy relationship actually is. Or, more likely, you are blaming yourself.
“People become stuck in the past because the energy of their emotions becomes stuck via self-judgment. This is a process that is not conscious, so very often we are not consciously aware of why we can’t just move on or get over it,” says C.L. Talmadge, author of Green Stone of Healing.
Yet the more self-judgment we release, the freer we are to live in the present and literally go with the flow. So don’t beat yourself up. Learn from the past and then let it go. If you ask most people who are successful, happy and fulfilled in their lives they would probably tell you that they wouldn’t change a thing about their past. The fact is that you are the person today because of the choices and experiences of your past.
In the meantime, here is also a place where you need to examine your past in order to figure out why you want what you want, and why you’re getting, or not getting it, be it in a partner or in life.
Don’t be a victim
Victim mentality goes something like this: When things go wrong (and they do), or when things are not to your liking, you look for someone or something to blame. In fact, you are hell-bent on identifying the source of why things are not as you think they should be. The wrongdoer must be identified so that things can be made right. Subsequently you easily justify being emotionally upset.
But how about trying to look at it a different way? If you agree to take responsibility for what has happened to you and accept your role in it (no matter what it was), then you can simply accept everything that has happened to you, yesterday, today and for the rest of your life.
We might not always be able to control what happens to us, but we can always choose our response. By choosing not to react emotionally to petty things, we end our suffering and discover the freedom and empowerment that comes from being in charge of our emotions instead of allowing them to be in charge of us.
Each trauma and tragedy can be seen as an opportunity for learning and growth. No one is to blame even when the apparent cause is not of your own making.
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