Do you find yourself physically living in the present, but your mind is in the past?
Are you sitting in resentment, guilt, or shame from the past?
Are your current circumstances causing you such displeasure that you think they'll continue in your future?
The voice of the ego-mind makes us believe we can only achieve internal peace based on external things. The philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein stated, “The eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.” When you don't allow yourself to experience any moment for itself, you stop time.
The past is said and done. What remains to be seen is what you can bring to your present and future. You always have the power to not repeat any poor decision you made in the past so it doesn't repeat in your present or future.
You owe it to yourself to treat yourself fairly! This includes not beating yourself up over your past, what someone did to you that wasn't in your control and anything you did without knowing how to respond better.
Today, tell yourself that you are important because you matter! Please know that no matter how others may have treated you or what they may have told you in the past is a reflection of them and not you.
Your past represents the things you've experienced. Your past does not make you a better or worse person nor is it your enemy. The enemy is your way of thinking about your past and if you allow it to ruin your present and future. Use your past to make you emotionally strong now for your future.
Let’s face it; the present can only get better for the future!
Happiness takes work. It's an inside job that can be easier said than done. Some of the basic ingredients to being happy includes safety, satiation, perception and quietude. These are things you can control. Depending on external things to be happy can make it hard to sustain happiness.
Feeling unsafe can bring about fear. This fear creates a fight or flight response on top of tension within your body. These things can make it hard for you to experience happiness. Ask yourself, “How safe and secure do I feel in my everyday life?” As you think about your answer, consider what you can adjust to feel safer.
No one has everything they want, but ask yourself, “At this moment, in what ways are my life full?” Only you can answer this question. Acknowledge in this present moment, without pointing out what you don't have, everything you do have that really makes your life full.
Right now, take the time to reflect on the bigger picture, your life! Getting caught up in the minuscule details of things you can't control can derail you from enjoying your life's journey, the positive impact you are having on others and within your own life. One’s quality of life can be enhanced by having a positive attitude and sense of general well-being. Improving your mind and memory through mentally stimulating exercises can also help.
How often do you go into a quiet place and reflect? If you can't do this every day, try to do this at least once a week. Find a quiet place where you can get in touch with feeling safe, seeing how satiated you are and self-reflect for 20 mins. Take a break from your day of being busy and implement rest. Identify a space where you can hear yourself think and have no responsibilities so you can focus on you, your peace.
As you reflect on some of these questions, focus on the ones you struggled with or couldn't answer. These are the ones that need your attention the most. As you begin to work on these, you are one more step closer to being a happier person.
You just landed your dream job earning more money making it easier to save more money; home-run!
Your daughter was accepted to her #1 college choice on a full scholarship; home-run!
Your brother just had his first baby and you're super excited to be an aunt; home-run!
After flying through green pastures, celebrating these homeruns, you grab a seat and close your eyes to relish on the beauty of it all. As soon as you open your eyes, the fastest curve ball you've ever witnessed is coming towards you. When life gives you lemons, they say to make lemonade. What do you make when life throws you fast curve balls?
The money in your savings account has dramatically decreased to repair your flooded basement because home insurance doesn't cover it; curve ball!
Your daughter received another letter from her college stating they made a typo on the letter and she will not be attending that college; curve ball!
Your brother calls to say his wife miscarried...you hang up the phone with the curve ball stuck in your throat; curve ball!
The phone rings again...your grandmother died' curve ball!
Now, you sit! The curve balls are sitting heavy on your chest. You can't seem to calm yourself and the curve balls are in various parts of your body. You feel the pressure. Your head is pounding.
The sound of mail being placed into your mailbox snaps you out of your head and for that split second, you are now focused on the task of reading the mail in hopes of a distraction.
The first piece of mail is $300 fine notification by the city for having too many times for false alarms. The second piece of mail is a notice stating your mortgage has increased by $400 because your mortgage company failed to take out enough money to cover last year’s escrow. Now, your once cushy savings is gone.
The room begins to spin because all those curve balls have knocked you on your ass. And it’s only Tuesday! How are you going to make it through today? The rest of the week?
Eat comfort food…or not eat at all.
Self-medicating discomfort isn't the way to handle discomfort. Allow yourself to sit with your uncomfortable feelings because you are human. Staying present is the only way to find a solution to current problems and fully go with the ebb of life’s curve balls as a means to adapt!
Life has a way of always testing you, for the good or bad! The reframe or new outlook is what will help you bounce back. A few reframing thoughts or new outlook could be:
More curve balls are sure to come. Remember, for every curve ball there's a homerun waiting to be hit out the park!
I might be aging myself here, but did you have a pen pal as a kid? I did! I remember how excited I was when my letter arrived in the mail. It was a wonderful experience to hold a letter that came from another state or country that someone else took the time and thought to write a letter back to me. I loved sitting down, writing and sharing something from my heart, funny or serious. The exchange was so fun as I was able to share my authentic self to someone else in a meaningful way without judgment.
My first pen pal was assigned to me in the 5th grade. She was another 5th grader from Alabama. In the 6th grade, I was assigned my second pen pal from Germany. Both pen pals added so much to my learning because of their cultures as they were different from mines growing up in Illinois.
The simplicity of writing a letter to a pen pal afforded me the experience to be myself, dream and listen while understanding others just the same. That experience alone taught me that I can embrace myself although it can be hard due wanting to fit in or change based on so-called norms in our society and/or culture.
Meaningful connections with others have been lost due to our overuse of social media and texting. I love technology and its benefits, but nothing will ever replace the human connection needed within ourselves or from others.
Here are some ways to embrace yourself and connect with others now:
Growing up, you may have discovered ways to make yourself feel better when you had been hurt or felt bad. Some examples of self-soothing include playing with your dog, favorite doll or toy truck.
As an adult, it's easy to forget how to self-soothe in a healthy way when feeling uncomfortable, upset, anxious or irritated. A lot of times, unhealthy self-soothing techniques are the quickest and easiest way to feel better, however it doesn't last long. Some examples of unhealthy self-soothing include:
There are healthy ways you can self-soothe as an adult. Try any of these 10 self-soothing techniques to feel better about yourself or any situation.
Each day you can help yourself feel better by doing many good things that don't involve self-harm, overeating or excessive use of alcohol or illicit substances. Do something fun, creative, uplifting, interesting and exciting to self-soothe.
People who are critical of others point out others perceived flaws. Many of us have grown up with painful criticism. Painful criticism can be toxic to anyone’s well-being. Being criticized as an adult can trigger suppressed pain and as a result, one either withdraw themselves or lashes out on others. Either action is counterproductive to one’s well-being.
Sometimes, painful criticism can trigger shame causing one to revert back to the hurt child who could never do anything right. Shame can also be an extremely painful emotion. When shame is triggered, some people find ways to not feel such as cutting, overeating, or using illicit substances. Shame can feel very threatening as it dysregulates the nervous system. Practice mindfulness by noticing it, allowing it some space and realizing when it has arisen. Understand that you are not the shame.
You have no control over how others perceive you. You do have control over how you react and view yourself. Find your inner strength and accept your lovely, unique human flaws. Here are 9 key ways to building mental strength in the face of criticism:
People are going to have their own opinions no matter what. In the end, yours is the only one that matters!
There are many things in life we try to control like what other people do, say and feel about us. Sometimes, we internalize these things.
There are also times where we can't control the things we can because we struggle when it appears as though everything is falling apart in the middle of a life-storm. We then find ourselves in a flight or flee response. But, even in difficult times, we can get through life-changing events.
As life happens, try to be honest for what’s true for you. Remind yourself, you have power no matter the circumstances that comes your way and you're not alone. With the help of a therapist, you can cultivate a meaningful, fulfilling and compassionate life for yourself.
Here are 12 ways therapy can be helpful in navigating life. Therapy can teach you how to:
I encourage you to think of ways therapy can be helpful for you.
We all have experienced stress, anxiety, depression, grief or relationship problems at some point in our lives, right? Many of us have friends or loved ones who are suffering right now and could benefit from therapy. Suggesting to a loved one or friend they need therapy can sound offensive and make them feel as if they are being criticized.
Do you know how to recommend therapy to your loved one? Here are 6 ways to recommend therapy to your loved one:
Don’t let your loved one or friend suffer in silence. Express to them that therapy is not replacing your relationship with them. If they decide to not go to therapy, it's their choice and you did your part. If the relationship is becoming harmful to you, reevaluate your boundaries with them. You might want to examine if the relationship is worth continuing. Remember, we all can benefit from therapy!
Help.org is an organization that provides people with trusted, real-world, evidence-based health and wellness information from healthcare providers and professionals. Help.org delivers relevant and digestible information that puts health and wellness into context in peoples’ lives.
Right now people are more isolated than normal, which adds another layer of complexity for those struggling with addiction. Social frameworks that usually exist to provide a supportive presence or accountability are crippled. Meanwhile, COVID-19 related life changes and stresses are compounding, likely leading to or furthering substance abuse and addiction.
In order to provide support during these challenging times, please check out the following resources! The resources provide comprehensive information on the various faces of addiction and how to get help. It is written for both individuals who are struggling with addiction at any phase, as well as concerned friends or family members that are looking for information to educate themselves or to share.
It’s completely normal to be experiencing a wide range of emotions like:
Provided by the Wellness Society thewellnesssociety.org/
Holly Sawyer, PhD, MS, LPC, CAADC, NCC
As a therapist, I am constantly finding ways to evolve not only professionally, but as a human being. My evolving process is holistic – physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual. Being mindful requires being present, living in the now and sitting with whatever emotion you’re experiencing. It can be based on something you perceive as negative or positive at that moment.
Not practicing mindfulness can push your mind to wander between the past and future instead of focusing on what is happening right in front of you; the present. This can trigger unproductive, negative thoughts and possibly negative behaviors.
For example, went on a job interview and left feeling like you aced it. Your mind begins to think about the future and all the good benefits the new job can bring. A couple of days goes by and you hear nothing from the hiring manager or HR. Your mind now goes to the past, replaying the interview and asking yourself “what did I do wrong?” because you really wanted “this” job, and your emotions are running high from not knowing if you got the job or not. Now, you start to retreat, ruminate over the interview, and isolate with your negative thinking without having all the facts. When you’re in a negative thinking pattern, it can be hard to be present in your life, flexible in your thinking or not controlled by your emotions.
When you find yourself in this or any related situation…
These things are definitely easier said than done because the mind can wander! What you may find helpful is venting to a nonjudgmental friend &/or instantly write your thoughts down. Every day, 3 things you are grateful for. This can also help you stay present.
For every negative, find a positive. Focusing too much on the future causes worry and staying in the past creates guilt and/or regret. None of these emotions add to your well-being although pain is a part of life. However, mental, and emotional pain can be reshaped by practicing mindfulness.
No one can change what happened yesterday, and tomorrow is not promised. Constantly going between the past and future can be draining and daunting. You deserve peace within your body, mind, and spirit.
How mindful are you? How will you practice mindfulness?