Sunday, March 21, 2010

Being Present vs. Time Travelling

As an autism professional being present is a very important aspect of my work, and of the every day fun I have!

Being present helps me to focus on my little friend. I can play with one hundred percent of my attention and notice his or her cues, which helps me to help him/her the best way I can. Being present also allows me to fully enjoy our time together.

This hasn't always been this way. I used to be an expert worrier and I used to spend at least 80 percent of my days thinking about different things. For example I would be thinking about my to do list or I would be occupied with beating myself up for things I did in the past. Or I would be feeling sad about everything that was happening to me (my lovely victimhood).

I used to have conversations with people and have my thoughts somewhere else or read a book and then realize after some pages that I had no idea what I read.

Why do we time travel?

I have met many people who shared my hobby of mind-time -traveling (thinking of the future or the past). So why do we do this? I guess the answer is different for everyone, but I can share you some of my insights.

I realized not long ago that when I am thinking of the future I am going over my list of things to do, because I want to make sure to not forget anything. The result is that I feel overly busy while I keep the to-do list active in my mind for a long period of time.

In the end I get only done half of what I could have done because I spend the rest of my time remembering the things on my list. Ad by thinking of the things on my list I create tiredness.

The other thing I used to do was preparing for future events. I used make up conversations in my mind where I and another person are talking and answering each other. Hardly any of the conversations or events happened the way I planned them. I even used to get angry with people because of their made up responses. Thinking about it now, I have to laugh loudly.

If things didn't happen the way I planned them in my head, I first had to deal with the unanticipated event and then with my response. No wonder I was perceived as inflexible. I was having a hard time adjusting to the situation that was different from the one I prepared for.

Being in the past didn't help me either. I was recreating feelings from the past over and over, and was keeping them alive. For sure I wasn’t spending time with pleasant memories from my past. I focused on the moments where I was unhappy!

A very important thing I keep reminding myself about is that we all do the best we can. By time traveling (thinking of the future or the past) I was doing the best I could. This was serving me in some way even though it didn’t lead to many happy feelings.

What can we do to be more present?
  • We can use the amazing tool of dialogues to figure out why we are not present at times.
  • We can make it our intention in the morning to be present and remind ourselves of our intention throughout the day. It can be helpful to put the actual intention on our desk or into our diary or anywhere we can see it many times during the day.
  • I have to use a sentence that helps me to make a new belief stronger: "I allow myself to experience..." In this case I allow myself to experience being present. I love this phrase because it doesn't indicate that I am supposed to be a certain way and it doesn’t remind me of the lack of what I am intending.
  • Also for some people it might be helpful to say: "I am refusing..." In this case I am refusing to think of the future or the past. I have heard people using this phrase. It is not my personal favorite, but maybe it can help someone reading the blog this morning.
Have a lovely present day wonderful reader.

With much love, Barbara

1 comment:

  1. Hello Barbara,

    Thanks for reminding us how important being present is in our lives. Over the weekend we had wonderful guests in our house with whom we spent lots of fabulous time. Instead of not being present I would say I would change my objects of presentness a lot! It was not that I was distracting myself with the future of the past, but I was distracting myself with the children in the room. We would be having dinner and be in the middle of a discussion when the little ones would ask for attention and I would give it to them instead to the conversation. It's not that I was not present, it was that I chose to be present with something else... the interaction with the kids.

    So, I think another point to add to your how to be more present list could be: decide what you want to be present with and ask yourself why you want to be present with that!

    Love, iris


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