Learning to Live in the Moment
The Background of Living in the Moment
Whether you are going through a challenging time at work or considering couples therapy because your relationship is on the rocks, you need strategies to get through the daily grind. Stress makes it hard to keep your mind focused at work and to enjoy normal activities like working out or spending time with your kids. Every technique you can use to keep yourself feeling under control will help you navigate periods of stress, loneliness, anxiety, pain, depression, or disease. What's more, the strategy of living in the moment can help you deal with a stressful situation. Sorting out a troubled relationship is only one setback among many we will experience over a lifetime.
People in a long-term relationship build their lives around certain patterns and routines. In fact, they derive a great sense of emotional security from their relationship. Anything that disrupts these patterns with their partner makes it harder to handle setbacks such as illness or workplace stress. Individuals who have high emotional intelligence, or an ability to understand the emotional needs of others as well as their own, may have the capacity to deal with a troubled relationship more easily than people who don't. That being said, anyone can learn to ascertain her own needs through mindfulness. We use the term "mindfulness" to describe when a person is aware of her own thoughts and emotions in a particular moment.
What Can Mindfulness Do for Patients in Therapy?
The interesting thing about therapy, whether you're alone or attending with a partner, is that we encourage patients to identify mental and emotional issues and then address them. Therapy is not about sweeping problems under the rug and pretending they don't exist. While you might enjoy the benefits of therapy once or twice a week, you need ways to complete daily routines with strategies that really work. We recommend that patients make time for mindfulness meditation. One way is to sit by yourself in a quiet room with no technology or people distracting you. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the air go in and out of your lungs. Try to become more aware of where you are in the present, including your immediate surroundings. Sometimes, if you can adequately still your body and calm your breathing, you will experience important thoughts or emotions as they hit your conscious mind. These are ideas that you might need to write down because your mind flags them for resolution.
Why Live in the Moment?
A mindful person can stay in the moment and make decisions with all information available in the instant. If you're aware of your emotions as well as any other person in the situation, you can adjust your behavior and communication to everyone present and secure a better outcome. If you're handling a situation but your thoughts or emotions are somewhere else, your mind won't consider all of the information about yourself and other people's emotions. By staying in the present, you can more easily give everyone your full attention. You can also communicate more openly at appropriate times, get through the situation, and advance to the next scenario. A problem our patients may face daily is fighting a feeling of loneliness at work. Mulling over relationship problems, for example, impedes you from preparing the report that your boss expects at the end of the day.
It's perfectly normal for a person to remember events from their past as well as contemplate and plan for their future. Many times, memories from special events or special people in our lives can be a great comfort. Setting goals to achieve at some future date is also a healthy course of action that can help many people achieve the things they desire in life. However, some people may find themselves getting bogged down in their daily life. Perhaps getting dragged down by emotional baggage from past negative events, or worrying -- even obsessing about their future, to the point where they cannot even enjoy their daily life. In this post, we will discuss how unresolved issues can hinder our ability to receive joy and fulfillment from our everyday life, and how professional counseling can provide tools and insight to help struggling individuals.
Living in the Past
We are all shaped by the positive and negative events that occur in our life. However, enduring a negative event does not automatically mean it will have a negative effect on our life. Some people use a negative event or a negative role model in their life to spur them to reach out for a better life. So it is possible to turn something negative into a positive catalyst for change.
There are occasions though when an individual experiences such trauma that they find themselves unable to move beyond it, both mentally and emotionally. This past trauma continually lurks in the background of their current daily life, influencing their thoughts, feelings and their general outlook in life. Such individuals may find themselves frequently reliving conversations they've had with others in the past, or they may feel sad or depressed for months, perhaps even years after a traumatic event took place. People who are unhappy in their current life, even though they have every reason to be joyful, even optimistic, may need healing from past trauma.
Living in the Future
Worrying or being very concerned about one's future is not necessarily abnormal. If a person should encounter a job loss or perhaps recently lost a spouse or a loved one, it is normal to question one's ability to be able to successfully cope with such traumatic changes. People dealing with these types of changes may very well need an outlet where they can vent their feelings of loss, grief and/or concern about finances, etc. In some cases though, a person obsesses or worries about their future even though their current life is fairly uneventful. They may find themselves so anxious about the future that it greatly hinders them, perhaps even paralyzing their ability to make even relatively benign decisions and/or find even a small amount of joy in their day. When a person is so concerned about the future that they struggle to get through their current day, that is when they need professional guidance to help them discover and root out the core issue(s) causing their excessive worry and fear.
How Counseling can Help
If you find yourself struggling frequently to enjoy your daily life, counseling can help uncover the reasons why you are having difficulty resolving your past or facing your future. Of course, every individual is unique and the reasons why a person struggles to find joy in the present moment will vary from person to person.
A good counselor can help uncover what is really hindering a person from living their best life. They can provide the encouragement and support that an individual needs to make positive changes in their life and they can offer practical ways to help change negative self-talk and/or destructive behaviors that may be hindering a person's ability to live a satisfying day-to-day life.
If you would like to know more about how professional counseling can help you to live your best present and future, please contact me.