A few weeks ago in my Methods of Becoming a Better Socializer post I mentioned living in the moment “has been and continues to be the most difficult thing for me to do.” It is the thing that has required the most practice and it is the most unstable part of being a better socializer. The previous post mentions “It is easy to dwell on the past to relive moments and if you are thinking about a conversation where you said something less than intelligent you will miss things happening now.”
For years i didn’t even know there was anything wrong and so I would drudge through problems, past conversations and a failed life with friends, and worse acquaintances all of whom eventually stopped spending time with me. I saw the problem only after a therapy session where the therapists responded to a statement with “It’s because you’re present now.” I don’t remember what it was in response to but it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am now present more than I am away. A Part of me lives for the future, and I think about what might have been sometimes. But I’ve found listening to music helps, going for walks and getting enough sleep are essential. But my life is bout what is happening to me now. I have hobbies, I go out with friends; spontaneously, I clean up after myself most of the time. I have a schedule I’ve been maintaining for a whille and so I have to spend time putting it together, and review it everyday, that way I can tell if I’m falling out of the present.
Please don’t get confused. Memories are good, they are filled with lessons learned and happiness shared with friends and family, but there are times for them. I used to obsess about all. I spent the majority of my time thinking about how I wasted 26 years of my life living a life I thought my family wanted me to live. I spent hours each day dreaming about how my life would have been different had I not joined the military and began living my life for me at 18. I wasted time, worrying about how I wasted time.
Everybody is a little different, and learning to recognize your own signs is not easy and after you learn them watching for them can be even more challenging. But so rewarding. Last weekend my belly dance studio, had a showcase. There were 240 tickets presold and the place was almost packed. I could feel it all week, leading up to it. I knew it was coming and sure enough, before the showcase I fell, I had a lot of trouble staying with it. I managed to do okay in the dances, I made a number of mistakes throughout the performances and because I practiced my skills to bring myself back to the moment. I warned a few friends. Every 10 minutes I successfully brought my self back to the now.
Am I confusing living in the moment and anxiety for the show? No I’m not. It is a separate feeling. One I know from previous presentations, from last years showcase and a rare presentation given two days after the showcase I had only a few hours two prepare for. Anxiety is a feeling I also about the showcase. The feeling, the being present didn’t go away after the showcase. It hung around and got worse. So lost in thought were I that it took me double the time to get ready to leave the house for the day.
I now know how to recognize when being present is going to be an issue days before it is going to happen. Describing is another story. I don’t know where to begin with it.