Past, present or future?
We live in the age of busyness, distraction, stress and anxiety that creates mistakes and failures. Yet one of life’s ambiguities is that our future achievements, creative power and ultimate happiness, rest upon our ability to pay attention to what is happening now.
This is termed as being ‘present’ or ‘in the now’. Being aware of what is happening to us and around us in the present moment. Recognising who is doing what and how we are reacting to it.
Often, it’s easier to explain what being present is not. When we are not present, our mind becomes the prey that is lured into the past or the future, sometimes both. Our thoughts become embroiled in the past – what happened; what should have happened; what could have happened. Or our thoughts rush off into the future and we are plagued with worry about what might happen, what can happen, or what will happen.
When we get ruled and controlled by our past mistakes or failures, we are not living in the present moment. When we keep repeating stories and events from our past, they have a restricting hold on us to move forward. Our reactions are valid at the time and very real to us but if we stay embroiled in them, we cannot shake them off and experience the ‘now’.
The same goes if we habitually engage in future unknowns and uncertainties. The what if’s and future matters we have no control over. When we allow past or future thinking to consistently occupy our minds, we are setting ourselves up for escalation of worry, anxiety and stress. Is this happening for you?
Ask yourself the following questions to check in:
i) Do I really enjoy my work? Or am I too busy thinking about deadlines (future), things I didn’t achieve (past)?
ii) Do I get stressed ‘trying’ to achieve perfection (future)? This stops me from being able to perform at my best (present).
iii) Do I get distracted outside of work hours, by constantly thinking of work tasks I have to do (future)? This ruins the time I spend with myself and others. It erodes the ‘present’.
iv) Am I often worrying or regretting what has already happened (past)? This prevents me from thriving and flourishing right now (present).
v) Do I let the opinions of others, dictate my actions (past and future)? This stops me from doing things or being who I really am (present)?
vi) Do I procrastinate? This is an excuse for inaction. A method of self-sabotage based on fear.
Fear of not achieving what we expect, fear or exceeding expectations, fearful of others responses, fear of not being approved by others, or fear of success.
Being in the present moment, or the ‘here and now’ means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening. Aware of what we are thinking and how we are feeling at this very moment. We are not being controlled by thoughts about the past, continually worried about the future, or persistently troubled by living up to other’s expectations.
We are able to BE in the here and now. Stop reading these words on this page and LISTEN to your breathing. Feel your feet on the floor, feel what you are holding in your hands, listen to what is happening in your environment, notice the taste in your mouth, notice the smell of the air, see the colours and textures around you.
THIS is one way to BE in the present moment.
This moment in time is where our remarkable future begins. Each present moment brings with it; a new opportunity to begin change; an opportunity to embrace our mistakes and failures – they are part of us; an opportunity to expand our skills and abilities; and an opportunity to set our priorities and boundaries to bring out the best version of ourselves in the present moment.