Last week we talked about leaving behind the unhelpful past. You know, all those painful memories and experiences that hold you back. And while forgiveness is the first step in this process, you must also develop these two things.
Mindfulness and the ability to engage in Advantageous Reflection.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness–the act of being fully immersed in the present–has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood (mindfulnet.org.) It’s as simple as using your senses as though you had never experienced the world before. It’s being aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment.
Feel the weight of your clothing against your skin. Hear the soft whirl of electricity in the walls and extend your hearing to things outside your immediate vicinity. Look around the room as though you had never noticed the way the light filters through the blinds. Eat your meals with emphasis on the flavor of the food and no longer as just an activity on your list of things to do.
Using your senses to ground yourself in the present helps the painful or difficult moments of the past melt away. Do this even if just for five minutes at a time. Now that you are centered in the present, you can move towards the future feeling refreshed.
Advantageous Reflection can be summed up with an old saying: “Out with the old and in with the new.” What I mean is out with the negative self-talk and outcomes that keep you from moving forward. Hold on to the positive (it does exist even when you think it doesn’t) and embrace the opportunities your past has afforded.
It’s okay to hold on to memories of strength, resilience, love, and happiness. It’s more than okay–it’s a wonderful way to think. Use positive memories to propel yourself to the next level of well-being: whether that be increased happiness, more success, or less stress and anxiety.
You have done good things and overcome great challenges. Reflect upon the times that you were happy and felt good about yourself. What was going on and why? How can you make this a part of the “new” for 2015? Our pasts are important, but it’s easy to focus only on the negative. Make an effort to put less emphasis on the bad things that have happened and highlight the good you have experienced in your life.
The past can be a burden when we hold on to resentment and anger, forget about the positive, and do not allow ourselves to experience the present. Deciding to let go of the past creates the emotional space to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future.
While these suggestions are a great place to start, there are so many other ways to step into your future, free and clear. How will you choose to move forward in 2015?
Ready to step into your brighter future today? Let the counseling professionals at The Stone Foundation be of support to you and your loved one as you navigate this transition. Visit us online at www.thestonefoundation.com or call us at 410.296.2004. We are here to support you.
Please know that this article is intended for general, educational purposes only. This article, and others like it, should not and are not meant to take the place of professional counseling services or medical care.
Lauren Greenberg, MS, LGPC is a graduate of Loyola’s Counseling Practitioner Program. For three years, Lauren provided hotline crisis intervention to residents of Baltimore City. She also has experience providing counseling to students at a local college for issues including grief and loss, depression, substance abuse, self-harm, anxiety, and trauma. Her professional interests and areas of study include positive psychology, promoting social and emotional competence, and women’s issues.