Be Present

I have learned that living in the present moment is challenging for many people, including myself. This is something that came up in my therapy session today, and my therapist had me bawling once again! Living in the present is apparently difficult for many Americans, whether they are low income families who are worried about paying the next month’s bills or a retired senior citizen who is worried about a health scare.

While the therapy process can seem “brutal” in some ways, it is so healing. I have made mistakes over the last year and I am trying to find my strong, good core again and make it even better. Over these months with my therapist (I think I found a good fit for me after 3 attempts) I have cried over many things. I shed tears, after therapy brought out emotional parts, of my lack of a father figure, lack of role models, mom, siblings, Rachel, trust others had in me that I broke, fact I do not trust others as the deceit I have been exposed too, and much more.

Today the tears were about living in the present. You may ask why did that cause crying? As throughout the session it came up that I am so focused on the future, and striving to be the best, prove myself and am a perfectionist. That future focus and traits has helped lead to tremendous financial and professional success, led me to top 1%, but it hurts me in other ways. And when I make mistakes, probably no one is harder on themselves than me. As I wrote about, professional and personal happiness are not correlated.

I have learned that many (most?) Americans do not live in the present as they worry about the future. In fact a survey from American Psychological Association shows that about 65% worry about the future. Other surveys show an even higher percentage worry about the future and do not live in the present. This worry is for people of all income levels…high, low, poor, immigrants, and many others. They worry about the cost of medical care, food inflation, saving for retirement, their kids, and much more.

After some therapy sessions, it is determined that much of my failure to live in the present is the fact I am trying to prove myself…to the dad who walked out; to the mom who was so focused on paying the bills and keeping a roof over our head (and she was a warrior) that may other aspects were neglected; to the bullies in school; to the doubters that a quiet, awkward kid (and still awkward man!) could succeed. And that need to prove myself leads to my perfectionist mentality, focus on future, and being hard on myself for past mistakes.

Even though I have do so much more than most people ever will in their lifetime (business, travel around world and country, multi-millionaire, give back, retired, etc) and have 40 more years to live still for more accomplishments, I still do have trouble living in the present moment. Someone just wrote me yesterday telling me that I am boring….maybe I am boring to this being present issue (that is for others to decide).. But in my mind, boring is living like everyone else…going to work all day, staring at phone, having little lifelong accomplishments, etc. I never would think that being free to do what I want, traveling the world and country, giving back by volunteering and donating, enjoying nature/sunrises, making a difference in the lives of millions, founding a world leading internet company, being one of the best and most skilled at what I do, etc, I do not think is boring, but that is my humble opinion. If everything I have done, and still want to do, is boring, then I would love to learn more about other people’s accomplishments who have “exciting” lives. But just maybe I am boring as I struggle to sometimes live in the present.

The drive and fire I have to be the best and never stop is result of much of that. People told me I have a “quiet fire” as I do not like attention, am an introvert, and am quiet about it and I still do not pro-actively talk about myself…only when asked. It is trying to get that approval from others, and someone to say they are proud of me and my accomplishments which has never happened. And that perfectionist attitude makes mistakes hard to get over.

While logically I knew this, the therapy covered some of the emotional parts…which I am now more open to. As the therapist and I discussed the emotional parts, this is when the tears started. As it is not my fault dad left, and not my fault that no adult in my family has ever said they are sorry for what I had to go through. It is not my fault people were not there for me as a kid. It is not my fault I had no positive male figures in my life….this stuff is what led to tears. I knew this “logically”, but therapy helped hit the emotional parts of it.

As a result of some of that, I forge on, strive to hit goals and be the best…and sometime (often?) struggle to live in the present. I was always aware of this stuff logically, but it does help to hear it and go through the emotional process.

So I am writing this post from the beach and parts from my porch at home, watching seagulls overhead, listening to music. Trying to be “present”…ha! While it has been and will be an ongoing battle, I am (and have been) aware of it. But lesson for everyone, including those 60%+ Americans. Is it can be difficult to be present. But try. Turn off the electronics, shut down the cell phones, turn off the TV, smell the flowers, and relax. Try not to think about the future, and let the past go. And go to the UK!

Comments

  1. Felicia H

    Is it legit in helping people learn to be present-minded when it comes to life and work? To sit with their distress or unhappiness or struggles even when it doesn’t go away? Yes. But if you’re just trying to fight your anxiety or depression or try to feel this way or that way (these are inherently future-oriented goals), then being present or even mediation is not what you’re looking for. With everything in life there’s no promise of feeling better. And that feeling better can never be the goal.

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