How to Balance the Past with the Present

Got the holiday blues? If so, you are not alone.

You might be surprised to know how many people are feeling down at this time of year, even if it’s not always obvious. Nonetheless, it is still far too easy to become isolated in a world that has seemingly gone temporarily insane with holiday gladness and cheer!

Life-changing loss of any kind can rob you of the ability to experience and enjoy even the most simple pleasures of the season.

Ongoing grief, whether it began within the last year or within the last decade, can cast a shadow over even the brightest holiday lights.

And if you feel gripped with sorrow because of lingering regrets, it can seem impossible to enjoy the moment at hand.

When you can’t get off what I call the “woulda-shoulda-coulda train,” you’re stuck in the past. In essence, it’s that simple. But there is a way to get off that train. And it’s surprisingly simple, even if it isn’t always easy.

The trick is to learn how to balance the past with the present.

You don’t have to completely push away the past; you just have to hold it a bit differently inside yourself. You don’t have to do it perfectly (no one can do it perfectly!). It’s a kind of balancing act. And you can learn how to do it.

It’s all about letting go.

“Letting go” is a pretty misunderstood concept. But once you have a better idea of what it does and does not mean, you’re halfway there. To let go, in essence, is to accept the present moment, as it is, right now, one breath at a time, one moment at a time.

Whether you lost something you wanted to keep, walked away from something you now miss, or just feel caught up in the crazy push-pull of change (chosen or not), it is possible to honor all of your feelings while also allowing yourself to experience the pleasures, great and small, that are right in front of you in the present moment. And wouldn’t it be nice to suffer a little less and enjoy yourself a little more, even given the heaviness in your heart?

“Anything I even let go of had claw marks all over it.”

A friend of mine once spoke this phrase and I have never forgotten it. Can you relate? I certainly can. I really do “get it” about how hard it is. And these practices I teach to clients and students are the very same ones that have saved me more than once and made all the difference between misery and tranquility when the going gets tough.

Sometimes, honoring the very fact of your mixed feelings is all that’s required to soften your grief, lift your spirit, and grant you serenity.

At a particularly tender change point in my own life, I was caught up in the power of the ambivalence I was feeling and wrote a song about what “letting go” was feeling like to me in the experience I was having. I added some of my photographs and created a simple slideshow to go with it.

I hope it helps you to let go a little more easily.

Are You Feeling Down This Holiday Season?

If you’re feeling down this holiday season, you are definitely not alone.

It’s actually a very tough time for a lot of people. Despite the appearance that everyone is fairytale happy and enjoying Hallmark-perfect family, friends, and celebrations, many people are struggling deeply and secretly counting the days until it’s all done and over with for another year.

“Holidays” can become “hellish” days when you can’t figure out how to balance the past with the present.

The real challenge is to find ways to take care of yourself during this season of what one colleague of mine calls “forced jolliness.” I know it’s a tall order sometimes! But it is definitely possible.

When you’ve suffered a loss, (and especially if you’ve suffered multiple losses), it’s only natural to feel even worse at this time when the whole world around you seems to be deliriously happy.

Believe me when I tell you that there is nothing wrong with you! At the same time, wouldn’t it be nice to suffer a little less and enjoy yourself a little more, even given the heaviness in your heart?

Are you tired of the push-pull you’re feeling this holiday season?

If you’re yearning for some serenity, peace, and joy but feeling gripped with nostalgia, or regret, or plain old grief, take heart: there are some simple ways to find your balance in the midst of it all.

Here’s the link to my podcast episode that’s all about how to get through the holiday season with less “wear and tear” on your spirit.

Let me know how I can help. Feel free to post your thoughts below. And remember to hang in there, baby. This too shall pass.

Listen to this episode. Post your thoughts below!

Got Inner Peace?

Many of the people I talk to have been through hard things. A lot of them are still in the midst of grappling with the fall-out from losses and changes that rocked their boat hard. Many of them are gripped with regret. And many of them are stuck on the woulda-shoulda-coulda train to nowhere.

When people tell me they can’t imagine ever feeling at peace again, even when they’re able to put on a good face for the outside world, I get it. Because there was a time when I felt that way too. I know what it feels like to believe deep down that it’s impossible. And that is a hard place to be.

But there actually is a way to reclaim inner peace. And it’s surprisingly simple. Even when you’re struggling to reckon with yourself and your life in the aftermath of hard times, you can regain a sense of basic well-being and serenity.  I call it The Four Ps of Inner Peace: Practice, Perseverance, Patience, and Perspective.

Practice, Practice, Practice…

Practice is all about repetition. You do new things, over and over again, on purpose. That’s how you make new habits of mind (what you think), body (what you do), and spirit (what you feel). Habits are hard to break but easy to make. Practice is how that happens. And it’s pretty simple, in essence.

Perseverance

Keep on keepin’ on. Get going when the going gets tough. Don’t, don’t, don’t give up. If you’re like most people, there are going to be times when it all just feels too hard. And that’s okay. Remember that “you might lose a battle but you’ll still win the war.”  Remind yourself that you can start over as many times as you need to. Every moment is new, and you’re new in every moment. Turn the page, turn over a new leaf, press your re-set button. Steady will always win the race.

Patience

Rome wasn’t built in a day, right? There’s no abracadabra-poof to the process. It’s not magic. It’s all and only a function of your moment-to-moment practices.

It’s natural to feel impatient.

But once you’re on board with the idea that the journey is the destination, your day to day sense of serenity, inner peace, and even joy will greatly increase.

Perspective

Most of us are pretty attached to the way we see things. In fact, most people tend to think that the way they see things is the way things ARE. But the truth is that there is more than one way to look at things.

The late, great Wayne Dyer said, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. And the good news is that there are some simple ways to do it. And if you learn and practice them, you’ll get some pretty quick results.

To learn more about Perspective click here.

Click below to watch the short video I made about “The Four Ps of Inner Peace.” And then I’d love to hear your own thoughts. Feel free to post them below.

That Was Pretty Stupid!

Have you ever done something you thought was really stupid?

That’s what happened to me recently. And I caught myself thinking some wickedly judgmental, not very nice thoughts about myself. It was interesting how quickly the inner criticism started and how painfully familiar the litany was.

No one can abuse us the way we can abuse ourselves.

What happened was that I found myself somewhere I didn’t expect to be. In this case, it was a physical place. But it could just as easily have been an emotional place. Either way, finding yourself in a situation or circumstance you regret can give rise to some pretty negative self-talk that makes you feel even worse. In my case, I immediately began berating myself for making a bad decision. And believe me, it wasn’t pretty.

A little self-awareness can go a long way in all the ways you want most.

Because I’ve been doing awareness practices for a long time, I caught myself pretty quickly. I noticed what I was doing to myself. And my self-awareness made it possible for me to interrupt it, stop it, and change it.

The cool thing was what happened next.

As soon as I got out of my head and back into the moment at hand, some really nice things happened. I got some help from passing strangers, I thought more clearly about my options, and I felt better about my decisions moving forward. And then the day ended a lot better than it started.

It is definitely possible to go a little easier on yourself even when you’re not feeling very good about things.

And the truth is that things tend to get better when you do, even when your situation overall is difficult.

Click below to watch the short video I made to tell you about what happened.

Feel free to post your thoughts and questions below.

I’ll Never Be the Same

Have you ever felt this way? It’s a feeling that can follow a really good experience. More commonly, though, it’s when you’ve lost a piece of your heart that it gets your full attention. And in either case, there’s a very real sense in which it’s true. But it’s not the whole truth. And especially where loss is concerned, it doesn’t have to mean a life sentence of unhappiness.

 Change is the bedrock of human experience.

The truth is that everything is changing all the time. We change, the people around us change, and the environment changes. Continually. It’s just that we don’t notice until we experience a loss that causes us grief, however large or small.

 There’s a trick to rolling with the punches.

Whatever happened to cause you to feel bad, you can learn how to adjust to it, to move on with your life, and to regain a sense of serenity, peace, and even joy. The first step – and it’s a doozie – is to accept the truth that life, as you knew it, is forever changed. It’s easier said than done but it is definitely possible.

 Everyone has a moment of truth.

Whether we ever say it out loud to another person or just know it deep in our own heart, there comes a time when we recognize that the past is simply that: the past. And then it’s all about what we do with that knowledge.

I’ve had my own “hitting bottom” moment which I would like to share with you in the video below. As I explain, I knew there was only one thing possible for me to do: move forward.

Click below to watch. And then I’d love to hear your own thoughts. Feel free to post them below.