Sunday, 28 October 2012

Past, Present and Future - where are you?

You can't have a better tomorrow if you don't stop thinking about yesterday

Anyone working in Personal Development is motivated by the belief that people can make their tomorrows better. How a person gets there...well that's where the arguments start. Freud began psychoanalysis and talking therapy which has had a major impact on counselling and therapies of different flavours. 

Hear Richard Bandler talking about talking therapies and you're going see a man on his soap box and hear a lot of swearing. Bandler believes that talking therapies involve taking clients through their most painful experiences and re-living every last detail. Don't get me wrong, he's scathing for a reason, he doesn't want his clients to suffer and he believes that all talking therapies do, is cause clients to suffer and suffer again.

I'm not sure I am with him 100% on this. I believe that a client can learn about why they made the choices they did, if indeed they had any part in the decision-making that caused their suffering. I do believe being self-aware and self-analysis are useful. Recognising your patterns of behaviour, triggers, people that don't bring out the best in you....these are things which can be incredibly useful in self-development.

However, I think he is absolutely right. There comes a point when a line has to be drawn under the past. After all it's done and dusted. We've all got our escalator moments; arguments in which we wish we would have been more clever, more cutting or would just rather not have indulged. We all have regrets. Situations in which a do-over would be a blessing.

Unfortunately, it's not going to happen. 

The Past is done. And that's a huge blessing. We don't have to live there. Every time we bring our pasts into our present, it brings poison. We punish the innocents in our lives, because someone else punished us. We don't trust other people or worse, ourselves. We exist in suffering.

It blights our Future.

So how do we get our brighter Future? Well, many coaches will give their clients exercises to set goals, aims and objectives. There are timelines and Plans. After all, if you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

Again, I'm not sure I'm with this 100%. Life can change between one breath and the next. There are a whole raft of things which can take your Life Plan, shake it up and spit it out. I can guarantee that however good and realistic your Plan, and all of the contingencies you may have in place, that you'll be hit, completely out of the blue by something you never could have foreseen. Just to clarify, I mean good things as well as bad, I'm not being negative here.

But a real issue that many people have by living in the Future, is when they get to their goal, they can be left scratching their heads. It's not what they expected. They can be left disappointed, deflated and confused. "I was supposed to be happy!"

What's the answer?

It's here in your Present.

You've survived your Past. The proof Ladies and Gentlemen is staring at you in the mirror. You're still breathing in and out. Therefore, stop a moment and pat yourselves on the back. You lived through it. Whatever it was, no matter how horrendous or painful; you're here now.

This is where you take control. 

First, listen to what you're saying to yourself. Look at the pictures you make in your head when you start re-playing the movie of the Past. An NLP Practitioner will tell you to play different movies, swish the Past away and that little nagging voice...well, stick a clown's nose on it, give it big shoes and a squeaky voice. These are useful techniques. If you want to learn how to do it for yourself, look up Get the Life you Want and Trance-formations, by Richard Bandler. Both books are packed full of useful tips and techniques to get yourself on a good path. Or find an NLP Practitioner near you to help you to do this for yourself.

Secondly, I've found The Work of Byron Katie to be incredibly useful. If you visit her website and have a good look around, she's got free downloads of the work sheets with instructions and there's also a useful iPad app, though you've got to pay for that. Her take on internal dialogue is slightly different. She says that thoughts are like rain, they just fall. The problems start when you believe them and give them power by making stories around them. Her approach is much like Buddhism, the cause of suffering is attachment. She believes that if you do The Work, you don't let go of your thoughts, they simply let go of you. They fall away of their own accord.

Making the promise to yourself, that you will do things differently is enough to get you started. How you continue, well that's your Path and you'll figure things out. You'll find out what works for you.

How do you make your Present better? Well, a great way to start is with gratitude. There are blessings all around you. A journal of gratitude or a book of blessings is a brilliant way to remind yourself that things might be difficult at the moment, but look at what you have got. Even if, at the end of a hard day, you say to yourself 'thank goodness, I never have to do today again,' it's a great way of re-inforcing that tomorrow is a new day, a new beginning...a chance to do things differently. 

If you are in the midst of a difficult or challenging situation, staying focused in the Present is the only sane strategy. Procrastinate the worry, there's nothing to be gained by dragging it into your Present. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Find the joy now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And finally, you're not alone. Support for you is out there, wherever you are.

Be well my darlings.


  1. When my mum's health was very up and down, she got so hopeful on a good day, only to despair the next when she wasn't so well again. I tried to persuade her to enjoy the good days, be philosophical about the bad, but it was no good. And I said tentatively that, even if she was completely cured, remember she'd be 10 years older than when she was fully fit, make allowances for herself, but she said that nothing less than 100% would do for her. So she was bound to fail. She knew it too, but didn't seem able to help it.

    And yes, you're right. At that time when I was looking after her, I couldn't plan ahead or think of the future. The present was just manageable.

    1. With all due respect, your mum sounds like she was committed to being miserable. Not to mention completely unrealistic. That must have made it difficult looking after her, especially as you are so positive and upbeat.

      When I was looking after my Dad, I'd have panic attacks if I thought about the Future. It's the first time, it'd ever happened to me. Kept me focused on the here and now. It was a painful, but useful lesson for me.

      Thinking about it, even now I don't spend too much time in the Future anymore.

      Be well my darling. My prayers include you.

  2. At this point in the game, I have way more in the past than in the future. So I don't think about the future too much.

    1. I can understand that. Besides, it sounds like you're have loads of fun in your Present!


  3. It was difficult for her too. She hadn't always been like that. I've always wanted to blog about her, but it's so complex to describe.

    1. I understand that. Family dynamics are by their very nature, complicated and fraught with unspoken arguments and hurts. And yet, there's so much joy as well.


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