Lifestyle Health and Wellbeing 08 Dec 2021 Are You Living in th ...

Are You Living in the Present?

Published Dec 8, 2021, 9:12 pm IST
Updated Dec 8, 2021, 9:12 pm IST
You are the only one bearing the consequences of your life. But have you ever asked yourself if you’re the one actually living it?
Reminding ourselves that it’s only the present we live in and present is what we have to deal with helps in bringing ourselves back to the moment. (Pic credit: Freepik)
 Reminding ourselves that it’s only the present we live in and present is what we have to deal with helps in bringing ourselves back to the moment. (Pic credit: Freepik)

How often have you made decisions because that’s what others wanted or expected? How many times have your decisions been based on your dreams and aspirations. We need to take an honest count about how afraid we are of what others might say about us if we live life our way. Or if we’ll strain our relations with others if we go our own way? Well, remember ‘It’s Not Over Yet’!

Don’t let even a day of your life be gone or write chapters of regret for the future. No matter how many mistakes you’ve made in life, you only have to get it right. Set it right now!
“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”
—Yiddish proverb


‘Go an extra mile just for yourself’
Return on investment: When we maximize our investment on something, we receive maximum returns. The more thoughts, imaginations and emotions we invest in the present, the more satisfaction we receive from our lives. Dedicate thoughts and imagination to everyday goal setting, connect with your current emotions, connect with the body similarly and invest heavily in your current relationships e.g., time with your loved ones.
Past Trauma: A complicated phenomenon can continue to instill fear and overcaution in our present. Trauma can be minor but chronic (e.g., strained relations between parents) or major and sudden trauma (e.g., loss of parent, sexual abuse in childhood, etc.). Trauma usually requires therapeutic interventions to process and prevent it from impacting our present. However, acknowledging our past trauma, talking to a trusted listener, etc. can help to a great extent in freeing us from it.
Inner child work: Our childhood emotions tie us to our past. Guilt — psychologically experienced as the feeling that we in our own capacity have hurt people (e.g., “I have caused disappointment to my parents” or “I have overshadowed my siblings”, etc.) often makes us act in ways to avoid similar guilt, causing anxiety and feelings of being entrapped. Accepting that we made mistakes and have miniscule capacity to influence people’s course of life helps put things in perspective. Comforting images, smells, voices from our childhood, etc, can often soothe when chronic guilt from past resurfaces in the current. The goal is to act in self-interest rather than from fear of guilt or desires to assuage it (e.g., leaving an abusive relationship rather than staying in it to avoid the feeling of guilt of hurting the person).
Un-shaming: Shame (a feeling of not being good enough in the eyes of others), like guilt, is a feeling we carry from childhood and it traps our present. The bitter truth is that it’s not possible to undo these feelings from the past. The hope is that if we challenge various societal stereotypes of ‘being good enough’, we may not feel compelled to act in certain fixed conforming ways thereby living a fuller present. One should challenge oneself often and question thoughts about “I can’t” or “I shouldn’t” whenever something new presents itself to us.
Integrating, not fighting the past off: Freeing ourselves from our past means to not drive our present lives to undo our past. However, it can’t be achieved by splitting off or distancing ourselves from our past. The past shapes us up, makes us multi-dimensional and adds to our strengths and challenges. Building your auto-biography (talking to friends and family, blogging and writing about our lives, etc.) helps. In fact, pushing it little further, inter-generational mapping (family history/tree) helps us to assimilate the past that we have unconsciously inherited from our family (shared values, resilience, anxieties, etc.).
—Dr Chandrima Misra Mukherjee, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist, Gurugram


‘A life of no regrets, start right here, right now’
Remind yourself: It’s often a habit to ruminate about the past or worry about its future consequences, which makes us lose focus of the present. So, reminding ourselves that it’s only the present we live in and present is what we have to deal with helps in bringing ourselves back to the moment.
Karma philosophy: Even though we engage in all sorts of permutations and combinations, at the end of the day, only what we can do is in our purview. Hence, focus on what you can do rather than the consequences; the outcomes of our actions are defined by a number of factors, and the only factor we can control is our action. So, there is no point in ruminating over the results. Take exams, for example; a student can only prepare for a test by studying. But constantly worrying about the results will not let him/her focus on the very thing that could be possible.
Don’t let guilt take over: Any experience, whether good or bad, can teach us something about us or the world, but guilt only fosters negativity and doesn’t let us move forward. So let go of the guilt; keep the lesson.
Draw your circle of control: Often, we focus on what would’ve happened if someone or something had been different or we expect our lives to change if something changes like “When the pandemic goes, I will be happier”, or “If I have a more tolerant boss, I will be more relaxed.” Write down all things you consider that can change your present situation. Then, draw a circle and put in the things that you have control over and leave out things you can’t do much about. Focus on what’s presently in your circle of control and work on that.
Live mindfully: ‘Mindful’ has become almost a cliche but the power of mindfulness depends upon one’s ability to practice it daily. Be aware of the moment, while eating, driving, talking, listening, etc., for this moment is all yours and living in this moment happens if we only are aware of it; otherwise, it feels like life has passed us by.
—Dr Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Psychiatrist and Founder, Manasthali


‘Celebrate every moment of your life’
Deep Breathing: When you observe your mind wandering into the past, delving into an episode that gives rise to guilt, simply breathe it out. As you inhale, exhale forcefully, quickly. Repeat this 15–20 times, focusing on the exhalation, rapid and with force. Adding the intention of letting off the guilt will help release it easily. Then sit back, with eyes closed and take a few deep breaths.
Doodling and or scribbling: Yes, expressive art therapy is a great anchor into the present moment. We did this as children. When you see your mind wandering into a guilty place of the mind, take a pen and doodle or scribble with complete awareness. This distracts the mind from the past.
Play some happy, fun songs or music: Avoid anything that belongs to the sentimental genre. Whatever music brings a smile is an anchor in the present moment.
Affirm: Affirmations are powerful statements. Whenever you observe your mind going in the direction of the past and swimming in guilt, pull it out of the river by repeating the following affirmation assertively: “I free myself from the guilt of the past, now.”
Body movement: Usually, we drift into the past when we’re doing nothing. We’re just sitting or lying down, allowing the mind to wander. The best thing you can do is to get up and get going. Play some music and dance. Go for a walk. Exercise. Shake away the guilt and come into the present moment.
—Karishma Chhatrapati, chief mindset & wellness expert at Fitza


(The author is a food, lifestyle and travel writer and can be reached at