When Are You Living?

Posted: January 16, 2011 in Psychology


Where are you living these days? Happy memories are good, but an existence based entirely on your past is stagnating. Goals are also good, but thinking about what you are going to do isn’t enough. Most of us don’t realize how much our past and future are sucking the joy and potential from our current lives.

The Past

In classic psychoanalysis, the therapist took notes and asked the occasional prompting question while the troubled patient remembered their past. After many sessions, the patient would expose enough information to understand the cause of thier unhappiness, anxiety, or other emotional problem.

In time, it was discovered that this kind of therapy was no more effective than having someone to talk to. Training in psychoanalysis wasn’t necessary in non-clinical cases. It continues as a profession because many people do not have access to a sympathetic ear.

When your current life is based on your past, you become reactive. Your concept of self is based on past influences. Instead of being the proactive agent of your own life, you react to whatever you are expected to do next.

The Future

We all have hopes and dreams for where we will be in the future. A better job. More friends. More money.

It’s easy to imagine possibilities for the future. It’s so easy that you can get so caught up in making plans that you don’t do anything to get them going. The plans need more tweaking. The time isn’t right. You need more money. You need an education you can’t afford. You keep dreaming and do nothing about your goals.

When you do take action on your goals, you sometimes make one step forward and stay there. Fear of the unknown holds you back.

You decide to teach yourself the skills needed to go ahead and then spend years in study. Even after you’ve become an expert, you keep studying.

You switch to a job that uses the same skills you will use in your own small business. Ten years later, you are still at the same company.

You find a way to supplement your income so you’ll have enough cash to start your small business. When you have enough to start, you decide not to take the risk. Your bank account is growing. Why change?


Examining your past is useful for discovering your strengths. The subjects you’ve studied and the experiences you’ve had are areas where you are most prepared to succeed.

Looking to your past to see why you are the kind of person you are is not so useful. You don’t need to be your past. You can change. Be the person you want to become.

Planning for the future is absolutely necessary if your life is ever going to change. But planning isn’t enough.

The only person putting your interests first is you. If your future is going to be different than your past, you have to make it happen. But how do you keep the present from stagnating in the ways mentioned above?

Milestones are the key. Set yourself definite times when the next step in your plans will happen.

A year or more is a long term milestone. You may have some of these if you need to get a degree or save a large amount of money.

Smaller milestones are more effective. Break large tasks down into smaller more manageable chunks. This gives you deadlines and keeps you moving. One day you will discover your dreams have become your reality.

Article text copyright 2011 David Arthur Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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