The Danger of Letting the Past Dictate Present Decision-Making

Piggybacking on my previous post in only finding clarity in the present, focusing more on the idea that we must make decisions in the now rather than focusing on future outcomes, it is also important not to let the past dictate our current decisions either.

Here, we are talking about specific experiences that might be influencing your current decision-making, whether it is career or relationships. I have recently noticed my own thinking being influenced by events of the past when it came to career. Some people might feel they are owed certain things because of their tenure at a company, or conversely, feel they should give up on a certain career because much time has passed and have still seen no reward.

When you realize that time does not have anything to do with expertise or give merit to stop something just because you have been working on it for a long time with no real progress, it is a light bulb-moment. The only moment that matters is right now. What is your expertise right now, regardless of how much time you have spent in your profession? Does that expertise warrant a promotion? What is your ambition to succeed in your currently unsuccessful venture? Do you still have a drive to work on it NOW?

We must ask ourselves these sort of questions without reasoning back to the past, how much time we have invested in something or how much time has passed with no success. The same is true with relationships. There are many couples that have stayed together primarily because of how much time had been invested in the relationship and the thought of starting over would be proof that they have just wasted all of this time. This very consideration of past events and investment is what they have based their decision to stay in the relationship on. Now, what if they had instead asked themselves how they felt in this present moment without consideration of the past? Perhaps there would have been more reason to go and move on because in that present moment you are unhappy and here is where a decision must be made, without influence from the past.

There is no such thing as the past. All of the good times we have had in the past are no longer, all we have is now. All of the bad times we have had in the past are no longer, all we have is now. We cannot accumulative evidence based on the past if it no longer exists in the present. I encourage us all to think about how you are feeling now, what you are contemplating doing right now, and decide in this very moment without looking back on who you were, how things went in the past and giving it more influence than it ever deserves.

If you have a drive to be successful in business but have not sold anything in the three years you’ve been invested? Please do not consider those three years when deciding whether or not to give up or continue. What do you believe in right now? Those three years do not exist. What do you want for yourself in this very moment?

Others will also expect you to give up and reason with you that if nothing has happened in three years, it will never happen. People might influence you to believe that the past has credibility, but you know that it does not.

We Can Only Find Clarity In The Present

Take a moment to reflect on the things that give you major and minor anxieties in the everyday. Such examples might be as simple as waiting on a text message from a friend, waiting in line at the Starbucks or thinking about what you are going to eat for dinner tonight. Some might be a bit deeper, thinking about if you are in the right marriage, if you and your friends will still be friends 20 years from now, if you are going to be broke your whole life or well-off.

If I asked you what all of these worries had in common, what would you say?

These anxieties are all attributed to the uncertainty about the FUTURE.

Many of us spend more time worrying about the future throughout the day than the very moment in the day itself. Ever drive to work and not even know how you got there because of all of the things you were thinking about on the drive? Ever leave the house and not remembering if you brushed your teeth because of all of the things running through your head during your brush?

Our minds are so flooded with these future worries that we do not focus on what we are doing in the moment we have. We are not even guaranteed to have those moments we focus too much energy on in the future. What if you have been imagining cooking a steak for dinner the whole day, what you are going to serve it with, who will be there, what drink you will wash the meal down with, and then when you get to your house, you find out the steak had expired 2 weeks ago. The reality of the situation is that you have been ignoring many of the days moments that you had with this daydream about a rotten piece of meat that you can no longer eat and satisfy your fantasy with. Sadly, we waste away moment in the day for trivial thoughts like this all of the time without even noticing.

The most disappointing part of all of this is the fact that we worry about things that are never guaranteed to us. We live life with a need to know, trying to solve life’s equations that are unsolvable because we will never know the future or have complete certainty. All we know is the truth in the moment we are experiencing right now.

This brings me to the next point about decision making. Sometimes when we feel this angst about the uncertainty in our lives, whether is it questioning if we are in the right career, relationship, friend-group or even workout class. In our heads, we can run through an extensive pros and cons list until it drives us crazy, and oddly enough, it will still not even bring us CLARITY we are looking for in making the right decision.

Why is this? Because we cannot make clear decisions when trying to predicting the future. It is okay to consider the future but we cannot try to predict it because these anxieties then fog our heads with fear, worry, and doubt in the present moment. Thinking is oftentimes not the answer to decision-making at all. In fact, NOT thinking and just being in the moment is where we will find more clarity. In these moments, you will feel engaged and free from emotion, anxieties, and stress about the future.

Rather, you are putting one foot in front of the other and navigating the bumps and cracks to step over along the path. Here we are clear on where to walk, whereas THINKING about where our next step should be might cause us to fall in a ditch we would have never seen coming.

All of this is to say that when you are considering a life change, minor or major, remain engaged in the present moment where you are free from anxiety and see your next step clearly. Thinking about the next step will only cause a cloud in your judgment filled with fear and worry which may misdirect your journey altogether. Let us not confused fear with intuition, for intuition can only exist in the present.

Allow the present to be our guiding light as we put one foot in front of the other and navigate down our path.

 

Peace Found in Objectivity

When was the last time you had a false perception about either a situation or a person? Situations like this are common as human beings, who are always looking to reason, draw conclusions and make up our own elaborate judgments for ourselves. Simply based on the look of someone, tone of voice, or wording in a text message, we can be given a negative impression of a situation.

These sorts of interpretations are due to the subjective nature of our mind. Mostly, I am sure this is an evolutionary trait which would have previously allowed for us to defend ourselves against the enemy in the wild. Now, as a more evolved species, it is the precise things that can cause us confusion in the wild and defense us from our truth.

I recently accidentally texted my co-worker “JK” following the exclamation, “Cute!” referring to the picture she sent me of her niece. I then quickly texted the correction, “Cute!*” again to hope she interpreted my “JK” as a mere slip of the finger. However, this got me thinking about how my co-worker could have interpreted this meaning without ever having known the real nature of the mistake.

My co-worker might had read that as a joke to imply her niece was in-fact not cute at all, which would have been a disaster. She also might have interpreted to be something I might have typed but accidentally send, resulting in the same rude and horrific interpretation. Or she might have found it to be the mistake it was.

Objectively, I believed her niece to be very cute, but expressed myself a bit improperly. If everyone was to only be able to think objectively, a mistake like this could be seen for what it was. Since we more often think subjectively about instances, we can draw various conclusions about the same, solidary event.

If we were all to think more objectively about situations, we would be able to find more peace with ourselves and the world. There are times I find myself questioning what seems to be almost everything and anything going on in my life. I judge whether or not it is good, bad, right, wrong, what it means, what it doesn’t mean, etc. By viewing things in life more objectively, we do not worry so much about what it good, bad, right, wrong what it means or doesn’t mean. Conversely, we focus only on what it is or what has happened without interpretation. Without this interpretation, our reactions can be pure, for they are not influenced by our own prompted thoughts or dwellings. We can see people, places and things for what they are and not for what we judge them to be.

If things feel like they are going well in the moment, let them continue free from judgment. Judgments can dilute the truth in the moment. The truth is what is actually occurring, while judgments are merely the interpretation of the truth, or in other words, the not-truth.

By allowing ourselves to experience the present free from judgments, we can find the truth in these moments more clearly, and see them for what they really are.

The clarity given to us when thinking objectively is a feeling of freedom. Freedom from attachment and excessive thoughts. We accept events things at face value, and recognize the moments when our mind wishes to judge them, but we know better.

This practice comes along with the practice of self-awareness. Try to be more aware of situations where you feel you are passing judgment on someone or something. Then question whether you are feeling this judgment because it is the truth of the situation, or is it your own conditionings, experiences and beliefs that have caused you to interpret this “truth” into something it is not. When we are able to be aware of why we are interpreting the truth for something it is not, it can bring us peace in being more accepting of situations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Choice to be Free

I hear the sound of my heart bumping through my ears at the same pace as I feel it pulsate against the balls of my feet.

I stand there, still, free from judgment of myself as I know no one is watching.

“I am beautiful. I am smart. I am bold. I am loving. I am kind. I am caring,”

Mantras I repeat to myself as I am erectly planted with my stems to the ground.

I sway as if in a slight wind, as I feel my body shift weight to one side of my body to the other.

I love being here.

A feeling of calm engrosses me with the exhale of every breath.

If I can stand here alone free from judgment, why can’t I stand in a populated area all the same?

Why am I timid to speak up in a group but have the gusto for constant debates with myself?

Why can I dance alone in an empty yoga room but I am frozen in the presence of others?

Why?

To be free from judgment of ourselves is to be free.

To be accepting of ourselves—insecurities, thoughts, and fears—is to be free.

Do I wish to live a life of freedom and wander, or would I rather be bound by my own mind, shackled in a room which has been hoarded with insecurities, thoughts and fears blocking the door out.

What is the choice?

 

Change.

“ Live dangerously, take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.” – Winston Churchill

The quote by Winston Churchill are truly words to live by when dealing with change.

There comes a time in everyone’s life where we experience change, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. At times we are in a place in our life when we might feel too comfortable, and are ready for a new challenge to take on. Or, perhaps there is a more unwelcomed, unpredictable change in which we cannot control. Regardless, our initial reactions to any change can be intimidating. By reframing change in our lives, we can move forward with positive disposition and excitement for a new beginning.

We can all relate to a time we have worked at a job for a number of years, and simply feel like we are not growing anymore. The decision to take on a new job, at a new company, with a new staff of people might frighten us to the point of discouragement from taking this action at all if we allow it. As human beings, we are instinctually programmed to protect ourselves from threat. Change can often trigger a threat response and cause this debilitating fear. We are then in control to respond to this fear. Are we going to allow fear to take over and remain comfortable where we are? Or will we embrace fear and take a leap of faith into a world of the unknown?

Conversely, other changes we have no control over and are oftentimes unwelcomed occurrences, such as a job firing, for example, to stick with the theme. Perhaps you are satisfied at a job, you feel motivated to work and feel you are continually developing, and suddenly, you are handed a pink slip for your departure from the company. Unexpected. Unpredictable. Yet, highly adaptable. Once again our choice in how we react comes into play. We can frame this occurrence as an opportunity or we can continue to sulk in the woe of a job had lost.

We will miss out on many growth opportunities in life if we do not embrace change, regardless if voluntary or involuntary. Personally, I am constantly reminded that we cannot predict the future as much as I would love to believe I have such a sixth sense. All we can do is go by intuition in the moment and taking a leap of faith into something that may or may not work out. Trust and faith in this change may just lead to a more rewarding outcome than you could have ever expected. Releasing ourselves from the anxieties of the future by remaining in the present and submitting to trust and faith can lead us through any change.

Comment with a recent experience you have had with change and how you have adapted!

Practicing Detachment

Recently I began to better understand what Buddhists and philosophers, such as Alan Watts, have explained as detachment. The meaning of detachment is not being attached to a particular feeling or pleasure (Also my interpretive definition). Conversely, we are encouraged to accept our feelings and let them pass, without having to question or reason them. We are not attached. They are not us. They are simply a feeling in the present time and only in the present time. Thus, it will also soon pass.

As advocates of this practice suggest, being attached to a positive feeling or an indulgent pleasure, for example, can only lead to disappointment due to our desire to infinitely feel this elation. Think about how often our feelings change in just a day’s time. We are constantly experiencing the fluctuation, yet rather than accepting this as normal, we beat ourselves up over not maintaining ecstasy.

I would have to argue that life would be much easier if we could recognize, accept and let go of the need to feel good all of the time. I mean, it would put so much less pressure on ourselves if we can understand that feelings are not infinite, they are contrarily meant to last for only a short period of time.

If we can detach ourselves from this unrealistic expectation we set for feelings we can often not control, we can have peace, be free from worry and even better, free from thought. Perhaps some might argue this is “setting low expectations” for our lives, and maybe it does sound that way. But rather it is about not having expectation AT ALL. Being free from expectation, not to have them low or high, just to not have it at all.

Expectation is a product of perception, something we anticipate, try to predict and try to fabricate as a result of this attachment to a desire to feel satisfied. Let me ask you a few questions….

How many times did something or someone not meet your expectations? I’ll take a guess and say….

Hundred, thousands of times.

How many times DID something or someone meet your expectations? I would assume…

Far less often.

Were you more satisfied in the achievement of reaching an expectation or more disappointed by not meeting an expectation? I’ll take one last guess and say…

It felt much worse experiencing that disappointment than it felt good to meet expectation because of how much more intensely it is in our nature to remember a negative emotion greater than the positive.

With all of this being said…

What was the culprit of this feeling you so greatly tried to avoid all along?

Expectation and our attachment to the desire for it to be fulfilled.

Conclusion to this thought is, once again easier said than done, the practice of detaching from our feelings and pleasures allows us to just experience and move forward without judgment, thought or question.

Can Any Form of Focus Be Considered Meditation?

As I lobbed the hackie sack back and forth between each hand, I felt focused. I had been focused on having the hackie sack land into each hand to ensure it did not drop. During this time people have been passing and conversations had been occurring in the distance, but I did not see or hear anything. All I saw was the focus of the ball and my two hands as if my eyes were a camera adjusting the aperture for a clear focus on the hackie sack and blurring the background imagery. My focus was not on time, for it was not on anything but the present moment.

After the conclusion of this brief 3-5 minute focus (some might call it a distraction. To each their own), I realize the feeling in my head and the focus that it ensued was no different than the feeling of focus traditional meditation provides. Meditation encourages all of us to recognize the present, for our minds not to wander. People may paint a generalized image of meditation of one sitting in a quiet room, legs crossed, and eyes closed as waterfall sounds play in the background. This is a perspection of traditional mediation practice of focus on the breath and single-focus.

So, am I suggesting this time of play, throwing a hackie sack diligently from palm to palm could be considered a form of meditation? Yes, I am.

I then began to think of all of the moments in my life when I have felt a similar focus. What I had concluded were moments when I am working out, studying, reading, or writing. The similarities between these activities is the discipline to have a single-focus. Most of the time, when we are truly engaged in such tasks, we do not notice time or distractions. When we are focusing on one current task, our mind IS single focused and is not wandering. We are present.

I often hear of people struggling to maintain the discipline of meditation (myself included), and I think this revelation for myself, at least, has relieved the pressure to find time to practice a 10 minute breathing exercise, and rather encourage me to find an opportunity to meditate in many different ways in my everyday life. By recognizing new forms of meditation, perhaps we can all do a better job in taking advantage of opportunities to be present.

So,

Indulge in that new book you bought

Write a blog post to share with your audience

Free write in your journal

Let’s get creative about meditation and find new ways to engross ourselves in the moment.