There is a great quote by Lao Tzu “If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace you are living in the present.” It is so simple, yet so profound. I see this as a common thread in every book I read, every podcast I listen to and every inspirational quote I see on Instagram. No matter where I see it and despite my adult ADD that prevents me from focusing on one source of information–it really does ring true.
Let’s unpack that quote line by line for a minute. Living in the past can cause depression? How so? Well, think about it…do you ever lament about the past and wish things could have been different or wish that you could go back? Close your eyes and think about how much time you’ve spent thinking about the good old days or how that person years ago hurt you deeply and you still haven’t gotten over it. With either scenario, you are holding on to the past and it’s making you sad and depressed.
On the other hand, living in the future causes anxiety. This is true because unless you’re a psychic you have no idea what the future may bring, yet you spend endless sleepless nights worrying about what may or may not ever happen. Fear of the unknown. Will I find love? Will I get that promotion? Where am I going to live? On and on my mind can get caught up in this never ending loop of what ifs. Worrying about my future because the unknown is something I can’t control and my faith wavers. I lose site of the fact that I need to surrender my fear and realize that everything will work out for the best. If only I had a crystal ball that will show me that everything will be fine.
The one truth is that living in the present and finding gratitude for what you have right here and now is the only way to find peace. Living in the present is how you tap into what really matters. It’s the place where you can find balance and not take for granted what you already have. When you can get to a place where you leave the past behind and you don’t worry about what the future holds…that’s the sweet spot isn’t it?
I realized lately that I’m falling back into my old patterns of negativity and I’m beating myself up about it. I started the year, so hopeful and I came to a turning point of really letting go of all the past resentment and pain. My mindset completely shifted and because of that shift, I was able to be more positive about life and focus on eating healthy and loving myself again. I can honestly say, I feel really good about my body and being healthy has changed me in ways I didn’t think were possible. I didn’t even recognize that I was in such a funk for so long. I just put on a smile and suppressed my feelings with food, alcohol and the occasional dumb boy. Until I woke up and realized I needed to make some changes.
I started the year with a new lease on life and I just knew that if I continued to do the work that everything else would just fall into place. I would find love. I would get that new job I wanted. I would be able let go of the house that I can’t stand…blah, blah, blah. Life would be great…if I just changed my mindset. Right? All the books and inspirational quotes that told me it starts with being clear about what you want and believing it will happen. All I had to do is just think positive and let go of negative thoughts and belief systems and everything I wanted would just show up in my life. Well, now it’s September and it’s starting to sound like a load of crap. I’m still single. I still didn’t get that promotion and I’m still stuck in this house until I do. I’m beginning to lose faith.
I’m allowing myself to worry about the future again and it’s causing me to slip back into anxiety about what the hell I’m going to do with my life. Have you ever felt like you’re in quick sand and you just need someone to throw you a rope so that you can pull yourself out. Well, that’s me. I need a lifeline. I need a reality check. I need to figure out how to stay present…all Zen and shit while making steps to change the situation I have been in for far too long. It’s not that I’m sitting back thinking I can meditate my way to a new job and a new life with someone. I’ve been working hard going on interviews and dates with my new found positive vibes, but quite frankly I keep getting kicked in the gut with rejection and disappointment. When is this shit going to start working? Enough is enough already! I think I deserve at least one good thing to come my way, don’t I? Oh wait…I’m falling back into the pity party attitude again aren’t I?
I thought that just because I was able to finally let go of the past that the future would look bright again. Everything would magically appear…but it doesn’t work that way does it? There is more work to do. I’m not going to lie, I’m getting tired of being stuck in this place I can’t seem to climb my way out of, but I realize that it’s not going to happen on my timetable. It will only happen when it’s right. I found the clarity. I know that I have to be steadfast and continue to trust. I know that I will continue to be challenged until I get it through my thick skull that everything on the other side of this struggle will be worth it. Beyond my hopes and dreams, but it takes time and patience.
I worked on letting go of the past and now I have to surrender to the possibilities of the future. After all, how can I get the things I want if I continue to go on job interviews that I don’t want and dates with men I know are the right fit for me? Those things do bring me more clarity on what I really want, but mostly on what I really don’t want. I have to remain open, but stop second-guessing my value. I know exactly what I want, yet I continue to settle for less at times. I have to stay present and stop worrying. I have to stop trying to figure it all out and just allow it to come to me organically.
Yes, it takes work and you have to take focused action to create the life that you want, but you have to be completely clear about what that is and not let distractions get in your way. The other part of this journey is that you are never going to get what you really desire if you don’t believe in your heart that you’re worthy. You have a choice; stay stuck in past allowing the same bullshit to come into your life or move forward believing you deserve more. I will continue to let go of the past, have faith in my future and stay focused on the present. What other choice do I have? I hope my little epiphany gave you the clarity you need too. Namaste people!