My son posted this quote on Facebook a few weeks ago and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. How often do we spend time thinking about the past or worrying about the future? We may be physically present and even able to contribute to conversations and be productive, but our presence is clouded by that internal lens that is looking back or forward.
When others talk to me about their fear of the future I often tell them, as I’ve been told, we are only guaranteed of today, of this moment. Don’t waste precious time worrying about something that hasn’t happened.
By staying focused on the past or the future we miss the joy that surrounds us in the present. You are not experiencing life. You are reliving or projecting feelings.
For survivors of any type of trauma this quote holds even greater meaning. An innate response to abuse is to take your mind elsewhere, away from the act that is happening. It is a way to survive. If you have done that repeatedly, mentally removed yourself from an experience, living somewhere other than the present becomes a way of existence. it may not be obvious to others, but you are not fully present in your life. A part of the healing process is to learn how to stay in the present. With time you learn to trust that it is not only a safe place to be, you begin to enjoy life in a way you’ve never known.
Staying in the present may take a conscious effort. I advocate using visualization as a strategy. Think of Da Vinci’s quote:
In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed
And the first of that which comes; so with present time.
Visualize a cool, gentle flowing river. Now visualize placing one finger in that water. Tell yourself this is where I need to be right now, in the present.
We are only guaranteed of today, this moment. Don’t compromise the joy in your life because you can’t stay in the present. Work at it. Stick your finger in that water. Do it as often as you need to. It works, I know. Roberta