Fully engaging in the present is one of the most powerful ways to nurture the fulfillment of our dreams and desires. If we allow ourselves to ruminate about the past or obsess over the future, our creativity is stifled and we become less capable of creating the most evolutionary outcome – the one that generates the greatest level of happiness, wellbeing, love, and meaning.
We are often told to let go of the past and live in the present. Yet we may find that despite our intention to relinquish it, the past seems unwilling to release us. When our thoughts and feelings keep dragging us back into the past, we need to shift our neuropsychological patterning – the conditioned beliefs and habits that are no longer serving us.
An effective technique for making this shift is the simple practice of keeping a journal. Spend some time writing down your uncomfortable thoughts and feelings with the intention of freeing up your mind to consider new creative ideas. In our Free to Love workshops, we teach people seeking to relinquish the pain of their past to follow this four-step process:
Describe what happened to cause you pain as objectively as possible. Tell your story from the beginning. How did it start? Who was involved? Who did what? What was said? Describe the events as if you were a reporter giving a factual account. Don’t include interpretations and evaluations – you will have a chance to do so in later steps. For now, just lay out the facts.
Describe the feelings you experienced as a result of what happened. Use words that express as primitively as possible the sensations you were feeling. Words such as lonely, jealous, angry, sad, and empty are authentic expressions of bodily sensations. In contrast, words such as rejected, betrayed, and abandoned don’t accurately express physical feelings; rather, they are interpretations of other people’s intentions.
Identify the unmet needs or boundary violations that triggered the uncomfortable feelings. All emotions derive from needs. Feelings of pain or discomfort arise when our basic needs such as security, trust, and attention aren’t met. Try to identify how the situation or event failed to meet your needs. Recognizing that your pain comes from an unmet need or a boundary violation empowers you to find ways to consciously get your needs met and establish healthy boundaries.
Commit to a course of action. Allow for the possibility of something new to unfold in your life that will create peace, happiness, and love for you.
The core of our being calls upon us to act with authenticity. The root of the word authentic is the same root as the word for author. Living authentically means recognizing that we are capable of writing the next chapter of our life in such a way that draws upon our past but is not imprisoned by it. Be present with the many possibilities available to you and, as consciously as possible, choose the action that has the greatest chance of increasing peace and happiness in your life.