It is very common for people to spend more time thinking or worrying about what is going to happen, or what has already happened, than being in present moment. Now of course, planning for the future, setting goals for ourselves, visualizing, and learning from past mistakes are quite different and can be very useful. What I am referring to is the time we spend worrying, regretting and obsessing over events that have already happened, or have not even occurred. At times, I have found myself obsessing over something I wish I would have done differently, or building anxiety over something that I worry may come later. Why do we do this to ourselves? This is a colossal waste of time and energy, and is actually very counterproductive to creating the happiness we so desire. I have been doing some thinking about this and have come up with a few things to remember to help us stay in the present moment, regain our sanity and stay focused on what is real!
The past is over. We cannot go back and change anything that has happened. We can certainly learn from our experiences and make better choices in the future because of them, but we absolutely cannot go back in time. When we dwell on the past, we are only creating misery for ourselves, and we are keeping ourselves from moving forward, which is the only way we can move! The only thing that is real is this moment. The past has already happened, and obsessing about the past is the equivalent of suffering with anxiety over what happened in a movie, or a story we once read. Take the lessons from your past experiences and move on with confidence that everything that has contributed to your evolution.
We all make mistakes! If we didn't make mistakes, we would never learn. Even though we don't always necessarily enjoy going through the process, there is always something to be gained from everything we do. We need to take time to reflect on what happened to be able to see what went wrong. Emotions can sometimes cloud our perception, and mistakes usually elicit some powerful emotions! Try and be objective and admit to yourself how things may have gone awry. Take ownership of your role in the event, make amends if necessary, and then focus on the next step.
Identify the lesson. We can't always fix mistakes, but we can certainly see how we might make a better choice in the future. Every event provides some kind of lesson for us. We can see how we could have done something different; we learn something new about ourselves and our needs; we discover our own triggers and weaknesses. There is always something to be learned from a mistake. Always!
Stop dwelling on things. Let yourself off the hook! Once something has happened, unless you have invented a time machine that you are hiding in your garage, you can give yourself permission to stop dwelling on it. Time does move on, the sun will still come up tomorrow, and you need to allow yourself to keep moving on, too. Focus on the lesson learned, not what you feel you did wrong. That doesn't solve anything!
The future has not happened yet. Making a positive plan for the future is an admirable thing, but how often do we fixate and worry about the "what ifs" and "I don't wants" that our ego minds feed us? I have never heard of any happy successful person who said they built their success or happiness on worrying and agonizing over events that are still in their imagination. Have you? Worrying is counterproductive, and it keeps you in a state of fear! Great accomplishments were never built on the fear of what may happen.
If we let our minds do it to us, we can create so much misery for ourselves. Staying in the present moment sometimes takes gentle reminders, and we need to treat ourselves with kindness. When we are going through something that we feel was a mistake, of course we wish we had made another choice, but regret doesn't help anyone unless that feeling inspires us to grow in some way. Of course, you are not expected to somehow love making mistakes, but you can learn to love the lesson you learned. Remind yourself what is real and take control of where your mind wants to go. You certainly would not get on a runaway train willingly, would you?
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