A lot of the people I work with (including myself, I am of course my own most challenging client!) spend a lot of time with their heads and their attention somewhere other than right here, right now in the present moment.
Some minds are regularly drawn into the past, replaying events and conversations, berating ourselves for not having said or done the right thing and wondering how things could have turned out differently.
Others are focused on the future, working through possible scenarios, preparing for the worst, worrying about all the things that remain unknown or uncertain.
Some minds are extra special and oscillate between the two!
Can you recognise which camp you have the tendency to fall into?
“Hello, my name is Hana and I’m an oscillator with a slight future leaning.”
It’s like our rumination has the ability to turn us into time travellers.
Pretty cool, huh?
Errr, nope, not really.
Our minds are so powerful that when we’re lost in our thinking about any scenario, aside from the one that’s happening right now, we actually feel those feelings all over again.
The anxiety. The disappointment. The sadness. The anger. The frustration. (Oh, by the way, do you know that we’re also wired with a natural negativity bias?)
The thoughts might be imaginary but the feelings are very real.
And as you know if you’ve read my super duper ebook (free to download right here! #gratuitousplug) if we’re not careful, our feelings filter into our mood and drive our behaviour which determines our experience of life.
So, is there nothing that we need from the past or for the future?
Of course, it’s neither realistic nor optimal to spend 100% of our time in the present moment.
(Bizarrely this led me to the thought “How much time do Buddhist monks spend in the present moment?”. Google hasn’t been able to help me so answers on a postcard please.)
By never reflecting on the past, we’d likely never learn anything and make the same mistakes over and over again.
By never looking forwards we’d continuously be unprepared.
What we need from the past……factual information that it’s either really important or really useful that we remember.
What we don’t need from the past……subjective opinions, rigid thoughts about things which could (and likely will) change over time and negative conclusions about our capabilities.
These things are often collectively referred to as limiting beliefs and they unnecessarily hold us back by misleading us into thinking that things are fixed and therefore not possible.
Essentially, there are times when it’s useful to think that history will repeat itself (often related to our survival – if you touch the fire you will get burned) and other scenarios where this would limit our experience of life (I can’t be good at or enjoy public speaking because I wasn’t/didn’t the last time).
Giving too much attention to the past is likely to encourage us towards a fixed mindset and away from a growth mindset.
What we need for the future……some basic parameters within which we want to operate – a strong sense of our values and priorities, a good connection to our internal compass.
What we don’t need for the future…….certainty about how things are going to play out, absolute confidence that we will succeed, complete information, awareness and a detailed plan for every possible scenario.
How often have you obsessively thought and got yourself really wound up about a future event, only to find that the reality is, at worst, totally manageable or, at best, way better than you’d anticipated?
If you’re honest with yourself I suspect it’s way more than the opposite and that you’d quite like to be able to get all that worry time back to spend on other things!
When your head’s stuck in the past or the future, your actions won’t be based on your current reality and you’ll have essentially given away your agency to make the very best of this situation.
Spend more of your precious time, energy and attention in the present – look around for what’s REAL, be honest with yourself about what’s POSSIBLE and look for opportunities to ACT to drive your confidence (not the other way round).
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Dale Carnegie:
“Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday.”
Hey there, in case you didn’t know, I’m Hana and I could be your Personal Mindset Coach.
I’m occasionally known to my clients as ‘the lovely stranger’.
I’m here to help you see things from a different perspective, to choose a different lens, to find different ways of thinking, being and doing – so that you can get out of your head and just get on with living a bloody great life.
If you’d like some support exploring this or other fascinating things about you further, then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a cuppa some time to find out if we might like each other enough to work together.
If you like what you’ve read and want more then how’s about downloading my free ‘Where’s your head at?’ ebook – get it right here.
Take care and keep enjoying the journey.