Are you stressed out, constantly worrying about the future? Is your past always appearing in front of you and stopping you from evolving? Most of us shift every single day back and forth from past to future and back. However, we never focus on what is in front of our eyes, the present moment.
We become prisoners of our past, battling events that hurt us and loop them in our minds. At the same time, we worry so much about the future as if only the worst can happen. What about now? Why don’t we live in the present moment?
Being a constant time-traveler can really drive you crazy and make your life miserable. If we don’t focus on the moment, we can lose so many things that are happening right in front of our eyes.
You can change things right now and act, ruminating about the past or worrying about the future won’t get you anywhere.
As simple as it may sound, we’re stuck in the past because we know it. We define ourselves by the actions we took years ago. The results of our actions become our identity. Does this help us in any way?
Your past isn’t a recipe
What happened in the past isn’t a blueprint for what will happen in the future. When you fail at one thing, you think that it’s the end of the world, and you start the negative self-talk.
You try one time, and since your actions lead to failure, you don’t bother to try again.
Well, life isn’t just like cooking. Every action you take has so many variables that can alter the end result.
Sometimes timing, luck, maturity, other people, and so many factors can change the outcome.
If you wanted to lose weight a year ago and you didn’t succeed, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never succeed in a diet in your life.
If you find the right reasons and become more organized and determined, you might get a different outcome.
Don’t trust your memories
Memories can be easily distorted. We might think we remember an event correctly, and in our mind, it might feel real, but that isn’t the case.
Our brains can easily fool us. According to Elizabeth Loftus, a cognitive psychologist, and expert on human memory, memory is malleable. Our brain doesn’t work as a video recorder, the storing of information is much more complicated.
In her studies, she discovered that our memories can be flawed and that they can be controlled, altered, and manipulated.
Memory isn’t just a recording of what happened; it is a constructive process that can store false information and distort the events.
False memories are constructed by combining actual memories with the content of suggestions received from others.
Take, for example, someone close to you that always judges you when you try to do something. Let’s say you want to lose weight, and your friend tells you that in the past you failed when you tried to go on a diet. When you hear that all the time you are prone to failure, you start to believe it.
According to a study on memory distortion for traumatic events, scientists found that: “People’s memories for traumatic events are – like their memories for more mundane events – easily distorted.
Importantly, memory distortion for traumatic events appears to follow a particular pattern: people tend to remember more trauma than they experienced, a phenomenon referred to as “memory amplification.”
Unfortunately, memory amplification carries real consequences: the more amplification people demonstrate, the more likely they are to report the “re-experiencing” symptoms associated with PTSD, such as intrusive thoughts and images.”
WHY ARE WE STRESSED ABOUT THE FUTURE?
You know the answer because the future is unknown. The only sure thing about it is that it is causing stress.
Fear for the future is vague
Do you freeze only by thinking of your dream about the future? Are you dreaming of quitting your job, starting a side hustle, traveling the world, or asking someone you like for a date?
It doesn’t matter what you want to do, it isn’t a matter of great versus small things. In your mind, fear is fear, and it leaves you devastated.
Psychological fear is something that we cannot efficiently deal with. It feels the same as real fear when, for example, a wild animal is chasing us.
The only difference is that we run, but no wild animal is after us. As crazy as it might seem, we do this to ourselves all the time.
The problem is that most of the time, what scares you cannot really hurt you, the monster lives only in your mind.
When your thoughts create a feeling of fear, that is extremely difficult and dangerous to deal with.
What if you fail?
So you stop trying new things and experiences, just because you cannot predict the future.
You prefer to expect the worst to help you gain more time and deal with the problem. In reality, it doesn’t help you in any way. Instead, it creates more stress in your life.
Worrying about an exam or a job interview won’t do you any good. Most of us spend sleepless nights frozen by fear for things that didn’t happen yet or might not occur.
You’re trying to control the outcome
Are you wondering about what you can do to prevent things from happening? The question should be different.
How can you become more efficient and deal with most of the least desired outcomes?
Let’s say you’re afraid of losing your job. Just this thought can make your life a living hell, right?
Why don’t you start learning new things and acquire new skills that would make getting a new job easier?
It is a different perspective. You have to find ways to move and find solutions instead of freezing. Motion is an essential element of life.
Being a control freak will only make you depressed, you cannot control every aspect of your life. Sometimes you have to go with the flow and adjust.
Remember the old Chinese proverb, “A tree that is unbending is easily broken.” Be flexing and trust yourself in the process, believe that you can overcome the obstacles, and you’ll succeed.
Let fear be your guide
Fear of the unknown is part of our DNA. Our ancestors had to deal with wild animals and the weather, their fear was real.
It was a matter of life and death. However, if they would choose to stay in their cave and were afraid to hunt, we wouldn’t be here right now.
This can apply to whatever aspect of your life. What scares us the most is change, we feel security only in what we know.
But if we stay at what we know, we cannot become better or wiser. Mistakes are just experiences.
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
— Joseph Campbell
WHY YOU SHOULD LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT
All we have is now, the present moment is where we can make decisions and act upon things to change our lives.
The only way to achieve big goals is to break them down into smaller ones and take action every day.
You cannot build a house by dreaming about it, you need to have a plan. You have to work every day, what you do now will bring you closer to the goal.
Comfort zone is your leash
If you never try to go beyond your limits, you will never grow as a human being. Every one of us is afraid of the unknown, we associate it with pain.
Just like working out can make you come up with a thousand excuses, you say to yourself to avoid it. Why?
You know that if you want to get fit, you have to exercise. You want to look good, don’t you? But then the pain gets in the way.
What if your muscles ache the next day? What if you can do only one rep? What if everyone stares at you at the gym because you’ll look like an alien landed on earth?
Pain, doubt, negative thoughts you put these all in the shaker, and what do you end up with? Well, a cocktail full of excuses.
Don’t be shy. For most of us, it’s our favorite drink. We get so intoxicated by excuses that we end up believing them, thinking we act for our own good.
Watch your nose Pinocchio!
Ego is your brake, it blocks your progress
You are wrong, you’re not enough, you’re weak… Does this negative self-talk sound familiar to you? All these labels about you can really keep you from trying new things.
Well, you’re not the center of the universe, and most of the people don’t care about you. They have their own problems, thinking mostly about their own problems.
And this is a good thing, in fact, it’s fantastic because then you’ll realize that you don’t live under a microscope and not everyone is watching what you do.
Relax, get over you. If you stop taking yourself too seriously, you’ll come to have fun in your life.
Become a child and stay like this forever
What separates grown-ups and children? Children love to play, explore the world around them, and learn new skills. They don’t look over their shoulder all the time wondering if they are being judged about what they do.
On the other hand, we tend to worry so much that we never experiment, we lose our imagination and creativity and become miserable and depressed. Why would you do that to yourself?
Children never quit. When they want something, they won’t stop until they succeed. Have you ever seen a child give up learning to ride a bicycle? They will fall down, get up again, fall down again and again…
At some point, they’ll eventually get better. Kids have fun during the process, and smile from ear to ear every time they get a little better.
When you live in the present moment, you learn to appreciate your accomplishments. Keep in mind that small wins bring you much closer to big goals.