Are you living your life in the here and now?
Are you living your life in the here and now? You may be wondering what exactly I mean by this question.
Well, firstly I ask this coming from a personal stance. During my life, I found that I could often find myself reflecting on my life choices. Sometimes nostalgically, but, more often than not, on a more negative path of regret. This type of self-punishment can become a construct to be repeated throughout life unless you are ‘aware’ you are doing this. I certainly needed this aspect of my thinking to be pointed out to me. Before I became a counsellor I was definitely not aware I was thinking in such a negative way.
Upon reflection, I would regularly feel a sensation which I now recognise to be anxiety. I would constantly be living with regret over life choices; I didn’t do well enough in my exams as a teenager, I shouldn’t have gone out with him, I should have had a better job. This would then lead into more personal unhelpful thinking such as I wish I was taller, thinner, cleverer, prettier etc…
This type of negative thinking can be very intrusive and ultimately become very destructive. It affects self-esteem, self-worth and self-image, and left unresolved a person can become anxious and become depressed. We can NEVER change the past, ever. As blunt as it sounds, what is done is done. However, what we can all do is learn from past experiences. If you had a negative experience, ask yourself what can I take from this and what can I do differently in the future.
There will always be positive and negatives to every life experience, it’s important to remember none of it was a waste of time. Again, this is when a negative spiral can happen, when we start thinking that we have wasted time and energy on a job, a relationship and so on… It’s an important recognition; that all life experiences that were unpleasant were not a waste of our time and energy. They can actually be quite cathartic by enabling us to become more resilient, more tolerant and patient while also increasing our self-awareness. So with that thought, moving forward we will be far more equipped to deal with the next chapter in our lives, with a broader self-awareness that can be used in a much more positive way.
Changing thinking patterns
With my growing self-awareness, I was able to change my thinking patterns; rather than thinking negatively I could reframe thoughts positively. I was able to stop looking backwards, and stop always punishing myself for ‘not’ seeing things, or for ‘not’ having enough courage or inner strength to change my life for the better. Negative thinking had plagued my life for a long time. It held me back, eating away at my self-esteem and self-worth. I could quite easily think things through to ‘there’s no point it won’t happen anyway’ type of attitude.
Before all of my training and studying - which I can confidently state has subsequently lead to huge personal growth - I experienced another type of negative thinking. I could find myself living in the future (and I can assure you that fortune-telling was not a gift I possessed!). However, I recognise this type of thinking to have been based on no facts, just pure fiction. It could lead to the point where I was fearing a future that didn’t even exist, going down this type of negative thinking could easily lead to wrongly predicting my future.
Through having counselling myself, coupled with all of my years of training, I can happily say that for the most part, in my life, I live happily and peacefully, quite firmly in the present; the ‘here and now.’
I celebrate the little things in life on a daily basis, actively thinking when I go to bed, that today has been a good day. If however, the day hasn’t been good, then I go to sleep with the more positive thought of ‘tomorrow is a new day’. I can’t change the past and I can’t predict the future, what I can do is be in control of the present, and how I choose to live in it. Living in the 'here and now' reminds me to celebrate the little things, but more importantly, the meaningful things such as feeling loved, my health and for being thankful for the people in my life who are dear to me. I now appreciate all of these things much more than I used to. I can now see all of these things ‘clearly’ right here today. I have no idea what tomorrow might look like… and I don’t need to know. Right now I am happy and I have confidence that my inner strength and resilience will help me through whatever tomorrow may bring.
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About Julie Howard
I am a fully qualified Integrative Counsellor/psychotherapist.
I offer interventions from a wide range of counselling models such as Person Centred, Psychodynamic, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Transactional Analysis and Solution Focused Brief Therapy.… Read more
Located in Runcorn, Cheshire.
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