Why is being present the hardest thing to do?

I’ll be real honest with you, one of my biggest struggles as a parent…or as a human for that matter, is being present and remaining in this moment. Why is it so hard to be present? How can I achieve more presence with my child and my husband?

It seems obvious that in order to be present I must leave the past in the past and the future in the future. That sounds beautiful and simple enough but it’s really freakin’ hard to do! How do we let go of the past? I’ve learned through some spiritual seeking that in order to let go of the past I have to clear away the wreckage. What does that mean?

Clear the Past

Photo by Celestine Chua 

Part I

Clearing Away The Wreckage of the Past

Well, as I’ve lived my life, I’ve acquired a history that I drag around with me into the present and the sheer heaviness of it keeps pulling me back. My history may be a little different than yours but it mainly consists of the same main issues- resentments (anything I’m angry about, hurt about, still dwelling on, obsessing over, etc.)! So…now I must clear those resentments away. I started by making a list of all the people, organizations, events that upset me, caused me harm, really drove me crazy, and held up valuable real estate in my mind. This is not the time to be shy and overly forgiving or judgmental of the process…that time can come later. This is the time for ruthless and soul searching honesty. Once I had the list, I shared it with someone I trusted. I recommend a spiritual advisor or very close, trusted friend.

We went through all the things that had been done to me and all the things I had done to others. Then I looked at my part. This can be hard to do– looking only at your own side of the street and not the other person’s part, especially when you feel victimized, but it’s incredible powerful. Why? Because I can’t control what the other person does I can only control my own behaviors and my own patterns and I can never change them unless I become aware of them. I can also see, after much time, where even in the worst of situations…I continually put myself in positions of being hurt by the types of activities I chose and the people I chose to surround myself with. This was really helpful for me to see, so I can change that in the future. I can be more selective. And I can be more concerned with self preservation over people pleasing or pursuit of “fun.”

When I looked at my part I saw some pretty common themes…

Defense mechanisms/ character defects/ patterns, etc.

  • Self Centeredness & Self-seeking
    • Looking out for myself before others, selfish, fearful there wasn’t enough for me
  • Dishonesty
    • Inability to be honest, vulnerable, and true to myself or omitting information
  • Over reliance & Over dependence (This can go under selfishness too)
    • Expecting others to do for me what I should do for myself

These character defects can be found under all sorts of weird and off-putting behaviors such as:

  1. Control/Dominance
  2. Manipulation
  3. Lies/Elaborations/Omissions
  4. People pleasing
  5. Obsessive thoughts/Fears
  6. Rage/Anger/Yelling/Violent outbursts
  7. Using people/Sarcasm/Gossip

You get the picture! So now what?? How do I change these patterns? Well, to be honest…I’m still working on that part. What I do now?

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
    • I’m not religious but I’m very spiritual and I pray to turn these things over to my Higher Power because I can’t change these things on my own. I’ve tried! The more I focus on them the worse they seem to get! So I try to live better and continue to turn these patterns over to God and ask to be changed into the person I need to be.
  • Reach out/Be of service to someone else
    • I call a trusted friend and try to allow a space for them to talk
    • I try to help someone else as quickly as possible (this has proven a challenge as a mama…but I also see being a mother as an act of service to my family).
  • Journaling
    • It’s really powerful for me and helpful to write out the way I’m feeling. It helps me process the history that starts building up before it really starts a forest fire!
  • Worksheets
    • I read Loving What Is by Byron Katie and I have found her worksheets incredible helpful in unraveling all the resentments that come along. The “work” it also really amazing for looking at my own side of the street! It helps me find acceptance and nonresistance (sometimes)!

This process is not perfect but it’s helped me a lot. I hope anything I’ve mentioned might be helpful for someone else. What do you do when you feel angry, fearful, resentful, irritable?

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