“Learn from the past, look to the future, but live in the present.”
Do you struggle to rise above any life challenges that come your way? Perhaps you have gone from having a lot of money and a big house to living from paycheck to paycheck in a small apartment. Or maybe you have experienced the loss of a relationship that left you feeling devastated, but you were still able to bounce back and continue to live the life of your dreams.
However, if you find yourself feeling stuck and looking back wistfully to earlier years, and wishing things could have remained “that way,” you’re probably living in the past.
If you notice that you still suffer a lot of emotional pain over an upsetting event you experienced long ago, you might be stuck in your history and unable to move forward.
Granted, some might ask, ”What’s so bad about living in the past?” Th e fact of the matter is that doing so means the present, your current reality, is flying by without you grabbing on to it to move forward and achieve your life aspirations.
You may be stuck in the past if you:
1. Re-hash. You think every day about some aspect of how your life used to be. Maybe you call it “nostalgia” or simple yearnings for what your life was like before. Reflecting daily on the past can often get in the way of moving forward.
2. Finds means of escape by various routes.
You try to sleep as much as possible so that you can dream about earlier years. When you sleep at night, your dreams become fantasies about how your life was before. You begin to look forward to those dreams.
You spend a lot of time on the computer. Being on the computer keeps your mind busy and you don’t have to think about how your life has changed.
You use other methods to “escape” from reality, like reading, cleaning, or even drinking alcohol or drugs.
If you are one of those people who tries to stay in constant motion, always doing something so that you don’t have to face life as it really is right now.
3. In denial. You are in denial about your current living situation. It can sometimes be difficult to accept that you no longer have a partner or no longer live in the home you thought you would for the rest of your life. Maybe you don’t want to rearrange the furniture or get rid of some things you don’t use because they remind you of the person who is no longer in your life.
If you see yourself in these 3 points, you’re living in the past.
The single most imporatnt thing you can do is to: Start Living in the Here and Now
Now that you have identified the issues, it is time to re-connect with yourself and move forward to create a fulfilling life. Here’s how:
1. Openly acknowledge to yourself what you have been spending your time doing. The first step toward healing is acknowledging the error of your ways. “I’ve been living in the past and I want to stop doing that.”
2. Decide what you must do to shift your life and your thoughts into the present. Do you need to clean out your closets, get rid of some old possessions, and maybe even move your residence? Sometimes, moving forward in your life literally means moving.
3. Know your own life goals. Make a plan that you can follow to actively pursue your goals.
4. Take care of yourself. Face yourself in the mirror. Take good physical care of yourself. Re-focus your efforts on the current state of your physical body and take care of yourself.
5. Take care of your emotional needs and feelings. Work to gain a better understanding of your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve for who or what you’ve lost if you need to.
6. Get help. Contact professionals if you need to. Seek out medical care if you have overlooked doing that these past years. Have an annual check-up. If you require psychological assistance to get things back in perspective, contact your local mental health center or ask your primary physician for a referral to a counselor.
7. Do it! Waste no more time. Be in awe and wonder of each day. You can do something positive with every 24 hour period you have at your disposal. Start immediately.
Living in the past robs you joy and of the life you truly deserve.
Re-state your life goals to yourself and then begin living out your dreams in the here and now.