When Times Are Tough, This Matters Even More
Is it harder to stay present when your life gets crazy? Absolutely. What about when you’re in pain, sad, experience an illness or loss? Even more so! But no matter how hard it is to center yourself and be present in the moment, it’s a vital part of keeping a healthy outlook and better coping skills.
We all need to escape sometimes into a good movie or a great book, but when your reaction to stress becomes avoidance or denial, that’s dangerous territory.
Being present, allowing yourself to fully occupy the moment and not focus elsewhere, is vital. It fosters better relationships, builds your sense of self and self worth, increases your productivity, reduces your stress, and gives you a better shot at the fulfilling life you’re working so hard to achieve.
Think things are too tough to stay present? Think again!
Relax into the discomfort
I know, I know. That sounds crazy. But bear with me.
No one wants to experience distress. But unfortunately, no one can escape it.
So if you can accept whatever is happening, you will be more at ease.
Now here’s the key, which is absolutely vital to understand—acceptance does NOT mean that you’re okay with whatever is going on. It simply means you’re acknowledging the undeniable fact that it’s occurring.
Strangely enough, you’ll discover a sense of relief when you stop struggling so hard to deny it. Whatever is happening is happening, and you’ll need all your strength to deal with it. Don’t lose energy for that battle by having a wrestling match on the side trying to wish the unstoppable out of existence.
The Buddha distinguished between pain and suffering. Pain is a natural part of the human condition—we all experience things that hurt us from time to time. Suffering, on the other hand, consists of the stories we tell ourselves about our pain that make us hold onto it longer and more tightly than we have to.
The flare of anger you feel in the pit of your stomach when your spouse or lover shouts at you is a pain reaction.
“What an insensitive jerk! Why can’t we ever have a normal conversation that doesn’t involve screaming?” is a story you tell yourself that only adds to your suffering. It’s normal to feel pain—being yelled at hurts. Just watch that the tale you build around it doesn’t add fuel to the fire and cause more suffering.
Finding a stash of drugs in your teenager’s desk drawer is a painful experience. Dealing with the situation will involve even more pain.
Telling yourself how idiotic and irresponsible your child is, or what a lousy parent you are, is storytelling. It doesn’t help the situation.
No, the circumstances are not okay. But if you can relax into the fact that they’re happening, you’ll have extra energy to deal with them.
Ask yourself how you feel in this moment
Very often, even when the overall situation is uncomfortable, the specific moment you’re in isn’t all that bad.
So ask yourself what’s okay—not great, maybe not even good, but just okay—about this moment.
Are you clean and warm and dry? Well-fed and not hungry?
Do you have the ability to take a few deep breaths and make a conscious choice about how to respond to your situation?
Do you know that, no matter what is going on, there are people who love you?
What do you have to be grateful for right now?
And even if this exact moment really is horrible, you can still do two things:
think about ways to change the situation, and understand that the moment will pass. I’m not saying that either of those things is easy to do, but they are possible.
However, chances are that right now things aren’t quite as bad as you thought.
– via Goodlife Zen
The Two Elephants In The Room
When it comes to enemies of the present, there are two big ones: The Past and The Future.
How can you be present when you keep remembering that conversation from last week that went so badly? And when you’re not thinking about that, there are bills due tomorrow to worry about.
If we’re not stuck in the past, we’re mulling over the future, and neither of these exercises do us any good.
Learning to shed the shame of the past and calm the fears of the future will allow you to live this day fully, and stop losing time that could be spent building a truly beautiful life.
Let go of the past
So much of our time and energy is wasted on analyzing, re-living, or reminiscing the past. But it’s over and done with, and we give our power away every time we step out of the present moment and attempt to resolve the past.
You might be in the middle of a meeting or important activity, but half of you is still on last week and the argument you had. This robs you of enjoying your life in the only moment that matters: this one.
Even if you wish you could change things from the past, you can’t. And the only thing you can change is how you’re living right now. So let the past go and step fully into your power in this very moment. Live the life you want to live TODAY.
Set your goal and let it go
If we aren’t avoiding the present moment by ruminating about the past, then we’re surely obsessing over the future, thinking that this will help it come faster.
While we can’t predict the future, it is beneficial to set an intention or a goal. But the key here is to set the goal, then let it go. Don’t hold on too tightly to the way everything plays out. Keep your energy in the present moment and trust that the process is unfolding according to plan.
Let’s say that you’re at point A and you want to get to point Z, but you have no idea what the hell points B-Y are. You don’t need to! The only way to live into point Z is to be where you are right now. When you try to control and plan out every step along the way, you often get in the way of your own progress. You gotta go with the flow.
So set your goal, set your sights softly on that Z point, and keep all your energy here in the present moment so that you can effectively live out every single step along the way.
– via Intention Inspired
How do you stay present?