My friend sent me a meme the other day that said this:
“Some days I want to go back in time and find the pre-kid me, who thinks she’s ‘so busy’ and ‘so tired’…and I want to smack her.”
It made me laugh, somewhat inappropriately, at the reality of the statement. How often do we compare our present self and situation to the past? I have been hearing more often from both men and women that they want to be the weight they were when they were younger, they want a restful and undisturbed sleep that they only experienced pre-kids, they desire to have the freedom of a lifestyle they had prior to a full-time job, or for some, they want the freedom they experienced prior to a committed relationship. When we choose to compare our present self to our past self, we choose to reject who we are in this moment.
We cannot turn back time. When we focus on the past, it increases our frustration of today. Focusing on what we currently don’t have will increase anger, jealousy, and resentment. When we choose to focus on what is not working, we are distracted us from what could work. The one thing we have absolute control of is our own thoughts. We can recall our past, accept that it was different, and then embrace the current moment.
When we choose to focus on the present moment we can focus on what we are grateful for and recognize what we have right now. Choosing to focus on the present moment allows a person to recognize their own thoughts, feelings, and developed beliefs. Choosing to accept the present moment allows a person to focus on what they can control: their self.
Life can be frustrating and sometimes things don’t go as expected. But the unexpected gives us an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to be better. When we are focusing on our past it becomes very easy to transition into that lifestyle of being, thinking, and doing what our past self would have done. We repeat similar experiences and essentially live life in circles avoiding the present.
It has been said that the present moment is all we have. When a person experiences anxiety regarding their future it often comes from holding onto the past and neglecting the present. We will not be able to enjoy the future if we first do not embrace the present moment. Accept who you are right now.
Remember: you are the person that you need to be in this exact moment. Trying to be who you once were, or wishing you were somewhere else creates resistance to the present moment. The best thing a person can do for themselves is to accept the reality of their life. The situation might be terrible, life might be especially hard but change will not occur unless you can first acknowledge it for what it actually is.
The next time that your mind wanders into the past and you fantasize about who you used to be and the lifestyle you previously lived, just pause. Take a moment and think about what you were possibly thinking about during that time. I guarantee it wasn’t what you appreciated or were grateful for, it was focused on what you wanted to be different. Don’t waste more time disqualifying what you have by not appreciating where you are and what you have done. Admit to your past mistakes, recognize them as learning opportunities, appreciate what you have already experienced and own your outcomes. Accept that life has struggles. So the next time the business of life becomes overwhelming and restful sleep is just a fantasy, pause, appreciate what you have, acknowledge the growth you have achieved, recognize your accomplishments, and experience the present moment.
Rachel Velishek is a licensed professional clinical counselor with Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, Fisher-Titus Medical Park 2, Suite C, 282 Benedict Ave., Norwalk. Her office can be reached at 419-668-0311. For more information on Fisher-Titus Behavioral Health, visit fishertitus.org/behavioral-health.