Do you struggle to rise above any life challenges that come your way? Maybe you’ve gone from having plenty of money and a big house to living from paycheck to paycheck in a small apartment. Or perhaps you’ve experienced the loss of a relationship that devastated you but you’ve been able to bounce back and continue to live the life of your dreams.
However, if you find yourself feeling stuck looking back wistfully to earlier years, and wishing things could have remained “that way,” you’re probably living in the past.
If you notice you still suffer a lot of emotional pain over an upsetting event you experienced long ago, you might be stuck in your history and unable to move forward.
Although some would argue, “What’s so bad about living in the past,” the fact is that doing so means the present—your reality—is flying by without you grabbing on to it to move forward and achieve your life aspirations.
You’re living in the past if:
1. You think every day about some aspect of how your life used to be. Maybe you call it “nostalgia” or simple yearnings for what your life was like before. Reflecting daily on the past can get in the way of moving forward.
2. You try to sleep as much as possible so you can dream about earlier years. When you sleep at night, your dreams become fantasies about how your life was before. You look forward to those dreams.
3. You spend a lot of time on the computer. Being on the computer keeps you busy and you don’t have to think about how your life has changed.
4. You use other methods to “escape” from reality, like reading, cleaning, or even drinking alcohol. Perhaps you’re constantly in motion and doing something so you don’t have to face life as it is now.
5. You’re in denial about your current living situation. It’s hard to accept that you no longer have a partner or live in the home you thought you would for the rest of your life. Maybe you don’t want to rearrange the furniture or get rid of some things you don’t use because they remind you of a person who’s no longer in your life.
If you see yourself in these 5 points, you’re living in the past. Examine the following steps to get started living in the present.
Start Living in the Here and Now
Now that you’ve identified the issue(s), it’s time to re-connect with yourself and move forward to create a fulfilling life. Here’s how to do it:
1. Openly acknowledge to yourself what you’ve been doing. The first step toward healing is acknowledging the error of your ways. “I’ve been living in the past and I want to stop doing that.”
2. Decide what you must do to shift into the present. Do you need to clean out closets, get rid of old possessions, and maybe even move your residence? Sometimes, moving forward in your life literally means moving.
3. Know your life goals. Make a plan you can follow to actively pursue your goals.
4. Take care of yourself. Face yourself in the mirror. Take excellent physical care of yourself. Re-focus your efforts on the current state of your physical body and take care of yourself.
5. Vow to practice special efforts with your feelings. Work to gain understanding of your feelings. Allow yourself to grieve who or what you’ve lost if you need to.
6. Contact professionals if needed. Seek out medical care if you’ve overlooked doing that these past years. Have an annual check-up. If you require psychological assistance to get things in perspective, contact your local mental health center or ask your general physician for a referral to a counselor.
7. Waste no more time. Be in awe of each day. You can do something positive with every 24 hour period. Start immediately.
Living in the past robs you of the life you truly deserve. Re-state your life goals to yourself and then begin living out your dreams in the here and now.