It's now or never

Do you live in the past or the future? I have not mentioned the present did you notice that? No, it's not a riddle. My point is that many people waste large chunks of their lives living in the past or future. The only time we really have is now.

We can't take action in the past it's gone. We can't take action in the future, which hasn't yet arrived. The only time in which we can take action is the now, this current moment.

So why do people live in the past? In my experience the causes are nostalgia, regrets, guilt feelings. Why do people live in the future? Fears, worries, looking forward to upcoming events such as a holiday or night out are the answers I usually receive when posing this question.

The actions we take now create our future. That's so important that I will repeat it. The actions we take now create our future. The past can't be changed so it's pointless to waste time regretting what we did or did not do.

Dwelling on guilt feelings is particularly negative. Viewing ourselves as someone who has behaved badly makes us more not less likely to repeat such behaviours.This is related to our self-image the mental picture of self that each of us carries around in our head. This contains not just details of our physical appearance, likes and dislikes, but also our personality traits, which determine how we are likely to behave in certain situations. It would take too long here to explain exactly why harbouring guilt feelings makes us likely to behave in ways we are unhappy with. However you can change this right now if it applies to you. Do it by acting in ways that make you feel proud of yourself. You can't change the past but you can create the future.

When you become aware of your ability to create the future by acting in the now you have no need to fear or worry about the future because you have control of it.

Living in the past or future creates three common errors of thought that have highly negative consequences. Not realising that we create our own futures causes people to feel that they will reach some future point with only the knowledge and resources that they currently possess

For example when studying for my psychology degree I remember many conversations with a friend and fellow student about parts of the course we would tackle in the months ahead. She would worry out loud about her lack of understanding of these subjects. I would point out that I did not understand them either and it was not necessary for us to at this point in time The course had been designed to lead us through particular aspects of psychology by a planned route. When we reached the subject that concerned her which was months ahead in our study schedule we would by then be prepared to deal with it. This is true in all aspects of life.

Linked to this error of thought is the fact that many people believe a goal is unreachable because they do not currently possess all the means of achieving it or can't see exactly how it will be achieved.For this reason people often don't attempt goals, which they could find highly achievable.Once we start moving towards a goal the means of achieving it then become apparent to us. This is perfectly understandable, as we are not focused on them until we decide to pursue this goal.

The third error of thought relates to people who say and believe "I can?t change". The truth is that we are all changing all the time. We have a whole new body every seven years due to an ongoing process of physical renewal. Our attitudes, opinions and character traits change too.

To sum up we need to live in the present to create our desired future. Looking forward to positive events in the future is fine. Can thinking about the past and future ever be useful? Yes, sometimes it can. Need to feel more positive/motivated. Then recall some good memories from your past, a great holiday, the day you received a promotion, bask in their glow. Now think of the future and all the good things that await you there, your desired future, the things that you are working towards. Now act in the present to make this a reality.

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