You probably have already heard of this concept before, probably everywhere, the idea of being “present”, of “living in the moment”, “enjoying the now”. It all sounds like a great plan it’s just that letting go of the past, of the future, of all the what ifs and the “could have been”s is not so easy to apply. Most of the time we find ourselves dwelling over past regrets or worrying about the future.
However, this is probably not inevitable. And maybe it should not be, at all. Sometimes it’s best to let our mind be free and wander. However, there are times when we need to focus, we need to be present and proceed with our day to day life without letting obstacles like the past and future intervene.
Chapter 1. The past
Why do we find it so hard to let go of the past? Be it a past long term relationship that still holds us back from trying anything new or some past failure or even some past accomplishment that paralyzes us? First of all, we love certitude. I know this sounds a bit like a cliché but it’s true. The past is something certain, the pain that it causes us is real and we can feel it. Although it looks like 100% illogical to hold on to something that is causing you pain, letting go in order to move forward towards the unknown is not a pleasant perspective either.
Think about the reasons why you need to let go. Be harsh and be straightforward with yourself, in a word, be honest and strong. Think about what your life would look like if you keep holding on to this, for a month, two, a year and letting go becomes harder and harder. Think about why it is necessary to move on and leave the past in the past, how holding on affects your current life.
Embrace the pain it causes you, live it through and then gently let it go when the time comes. Don’t dwell on guilt, whose fault it was, don’t blame yourself and don’t play the victim either. Thing is, there is not much point in crying over spilt milk. The hardest thing is accepting that maybe it had to happen this way and there’s nobody to blame for the past.
Lastly but not the least, forgive. Many times we have the feeling that we let go of something and at the tiniest reminder, the whole sky darkens. Holding on to grudges is quite easy and it comes naturally, letting truly go of them is the hard part.
Chapter 2. The future
The moment we stop feeling sorry because of our past, we fall into the other vicious circle and we become anxious about the unknown future.
Try to talk to yourself.
Not in a psychotic manner but try to comfort yourself that whatever the future brings you are ready, think about the fact that so far nothing that happened to you broke you and you are where you stand in this very moment because you are a strong person who can deal with whatever.
Invest in relationships.
People who are less afraid of what the future can bring are people who can count on their friends, family and whoever is close to them. Therefore never step back from investing into something you might need when you find yourself falling one day.
Invest in yourself.
Another thing that can help you during your dark days are hobbies, for instance. Cultivate them and invest in them. You can read more here where I talk about what activities could represent great hobby ideas!
Stick to healthy habits.
The moment things get out of control you can find a relief in knowing that at least part of your life are in order. Simple habits, like making the bed in the morning or eating a banana or an apple a day will be pillars you can rely on later on.
Chapter 3. The present
If we manage to somehow get rid of the past and stay calm about the future, the matter of the present time still remains.
Water can be the answer to many issues. You didn’t give it that much of a thought until now that I mentioned it, right? Just think about it. When feeling anxious? We drink water. When feeling hot – water and so on. But why is this as it is? Because while drinking water you tend to slow down your breath and it makes you sure of the fact that the way you feel is not a direct result of being dehydrated.
There are several techniques of deep breathing that I practice myself as well, due to my anxiety disorder. At first I must admit I was skeptical about it but on the long term it worked wonders. Many time when we become anxious, we forget to breathe normally and we hyperventilate. Which makes us feel even more awkward than the initial anxiety. Hence, learning some techniques that help you focus on your breathing pace can slow you down when necessary.
I’ve been reading once that anxiety does not come into a relaxed body. It tends to appear the moment you are tensed and stiff. Take a couple of steps, walk till the bathroom of the office, just stretch a little, remind yourself you are alive and flexible.
When I first began to meditate I had no idea what I was doing. But there are so many cool apps out there that help you get started and guide you through the first steps. And when I say meditate I don’t think of spending 30 minutes in the lotus position. Baby steps that help you clear and organize your mind. Give yourself a well-deserved space. You can read more about my view on meditation within this article.
All these being said, let us know how you feel about our mini guide towards being more present in the present. Let us know if you had any other methods that worked for you and you would like to share with us and our fellow readers. Remember, at the end of the day you are your best friend and you can hold your hand if required. Just breathe. Take a moment and read my other article that talks about how you can slow your pace and restore some calmness in your life.