Do you live in the past?
Let me ask you something. Where do you live right now? I don’t mean where are you physically living I really mean do you think a lot about what has happened, or do you more thing about what is happening, or perhaps everyday you are thinking about what could happen in the future.
I don’t know your current situation, but perhaps you are not at the place that you want to be or maybe you are. Maybe you have a comfortable life now. Maybe you are now struggling when in the past everything was going well.
Either way do you ever reminisce about times gone by? Do you think about how bad it was in the past or how good it was in the past compared to now? If you do this a lot you could actually be living in the past rather than in the present moment.
Many people suffer a lot of emotional pain over something that happened in the past – a job loss, a relationship breakdown or other distressing event. If you are still suffering this pain, it could be that you are stuck in the past and reflect too much on what happened and are unable to move forward.
There are some people who will say to you “but living in the past is ok, you are remembering better times (or maybe not)” The issue is that if you are living in the past you are not enjoying the present and you are not able to plan for the future. Remember time flies and before you know it another day, week, month has gone by and then you are wondering what happened!
Here are some ways to know that you are living in the past:
- You find yourself thinking about how life was on a regular basis. Some may call it nostalgia, others may call it remembering the good old days. However, if you are thinking about the past on a regular basis then you are not living in the present and will find it hard to move forward..
- You keep yourself busy so as not to have to deal with the present. Many people are “busy” people, always doing something so that they don’t have to think about the present. They upload pictures from the past, read articles about things that happened in the past, and generally don’t think much about the here and now.
- You find other ways to “distract” yourself. Many people don’t want to face the reality of the present so they find distractions, more often than not, bad ones, in order to forget about the present. This can include drugs or alcohol.
- You are in a state of denial about your current situation. You don’t like to admit that your current situation has changed. You still want things to be the way they were and you may act as if they are. Going to the same places you used to visit with your ex partner. Wearing the same styles from years ago, in essence not growing up!
- The feeling that everything used to be better. Many people will believe that the way things were was a lot better than it is today. The will engage in “selective recollection” and remember just the good points.
Can you identify with any of the above points? Even if you only identify with one you may be still living in the past
Begin to live in the here and now
So now that you know that you may be living in the past it is time to decide on living in the here and now by trying some of the following strategies.
- It’s good to admit it. No matter what the first step in any change is to admit that something has been happening. So say it to yourself. “I have been living in the past, not moving forward, now is the time to make a change. Today is that day”. There that is it now you can start with step 2
- What do you need to do to move forward? In order to move forward you need to take some sort of action. Is it getting rid of old memories? Doing a spring clean? Changing job or even location? Pinpoint what is “helping” you stay in the past and see how you can get rid of it! Yes it is tough but you can do it.
- Create some goals. The big challenge that many people face is not having a goal to work towards. This has to be a personal goal that you can achieve. For example to get healthy, to change job, to volunteer in the local community. You need to set yourself a challenge to work towards.
- Look after yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? A happy person? A sad person? A person that needs to smarten up, drop a few pounds? Your whole attitude to live will change when you start to look better an feel better.
- Understand your feelings. I have been there, I know what it can be like when you feel down. When you are thinking of how good things were. Accept these feelings but realise that you need to control them and stop them from engulfing you. They are there to remind you of the past but should not control you. You need to say to yourself “Fair enough but I am moving on now” and that’s it.
- Talk to someone. Let me be honest again. If life is just too overwhelming maybe you need to talk to someone. Maybe a doctor, a coach, or a counsellor. There’s nothing wrong with admitting this and doing it. If at all possible stay off medication and look for alternatives as the meds can screw you up more!
- Write down one good thing that happened today. It is so easy to remember what did not go right for you rather than what did. I find writing down something good that happened really helps.
If you live in the past you are denying yourself the life you deserve. Now is the time to say enough is enough and starting living in the here and now.
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