present, past, future, psychology

Where’s your focus? How to stop sabotaging your present

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When you use your past to sabotage your present, or focus on the future to escape from it, you become entrapped in behaviours that don’t serve you.

If you don’t leave your past where it belongs (mainly those parts of it that have hurt you) it will continue to damage and constrain how you live. If you continually worry about your future you’ll miss the things that are happening in your life right now.

We all have a past that lives within us and helps make us who we are. In any life there are things in our past we aren’t happy with, and worries we focus on.   However, it’s important to remember you have choices about whether your past dominates or defeats you, or whether you use your experiences to become stronger and more empowered. The only thing you can control in your life is your present, and by holding to this you take a more objective view of what was difficult or painful at the time and seek those hidden treasures of learning waiting to be discovered. If you give yourself permission to relegate the pain and hurt to where it belongs – in the past – you take back control of what you are affected by.

When I was younger I had a permanent and unpleasant knot in my stomach – I always felt I wasn’t living up to other people’s expectations; that I was nothing in the scheme of things. I was so used to this thinking I wasn’t consciously aware of it anymore; I just knew that I never felt great. When I finally heard the stories I was creating and was shown ways to deal with them I found I had many more choices … I understood that a lot of what I was saying to myself wasn’t true, yet the energy I used to hold onto those thoughts was incredibly draining.

“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself.”  Andrew Murphy

A calming technique

Fear can paralyse, so when I experience a difficult situation and find my thoughts are overwhelming, unhappy or fearful I immediately use a calming process … this allows me to look at other options, at what is true and what is untrue.  One such process is to sit quietly, relax and breathe in, hold and breathe out. After a few of these deep breaths think of a relaxing colour and allow it to surround you and then say to yourself “warm, comfortable and relaxed”. Do this for a couple of minutes until you feel more objective about what is worrying you, giving you more clarity.

Practicing the ‘true statement’

These are statements about what you want to reinforce in your life, and that become more real as you use them.   In our brain the reticular activating system (RAS) filters incoming information and affects what you pay attention to. For example, if you start saying to yourself ‘I am calm and in control’, even if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, you will notice your brain looks for ways to confirm this statement.   By using your ‘true statement’ regularly the RAS continues to search for ways to endorse and focus more purposefully on those areas that confirm it.

 “Life isn’t about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Focused positive thoughts create positive outcomes, and although this sounds a little clichéd it is also very true … try it, you’ll enjoy the results.

present, past, future, psychology