Prepare for tomorrow by living in the present psychology today chest pain sternum

The great wisdom of modern sages often revolves around the importance of breathing in deeply this moment, this “now,” and being “present.” You certainly can’t live without breathing, and you can’t hope to see tomorrow without being alive today.

Do you agree with Socrates who proclaimed that an unexamined life is not worth living? While dwelling on the past isn’t advised, it can certainly be beneficial to take a look at where you’ve come from before you commit to a decision about where you think you’re going.

So, once you’ve allowed yourself to breathe in this moment and let yourself become fully aware of where you’re currently located in the metaphorical sense, the next step requires us to breathe in all that we have been throughout our lives. Rather than ignoring some of our less rewarding choices, it can be helpful to own up to the past failures and fears, the past wins and losses, the past successes and joys.

To be fully alive, we must fully accept that we have not made all of the right choices along our paths. We have stumbled unexpectedly, we have strayed aimlessly for little reason, we have tarried when we should have hastened our step, we have wandered off into places that we thought we belonged, we have wandered off into places that we couldn’t belong.

Most of us have probably been comforted by or comforted another with the reassuring words, ‘every decision you make is the best you could make at that moment in time.’ These are soothing words, indeed, to any of us who look back with regret or shame at choices made, relationships ended or relationships commenced, judgments decreed on ourselves or others. Owning up to our missteps, and being able to learn from these lessons that we have, on some level, chosen to learn, can allow us the freedom to profit and grow from the experiences.

What are the lessons that your deepest self needed to bring to your attention? What are the areas in which your greatest growth has already been begun with the planting of a seed in the form of a choice made or choice deferred, turning right or turning left, staying the night or leaving a lover? An Exercise for Self-Reflection

Think back to your earliest self . . . what is the first decision you made as a child? Who gave you this choice and how were you invited to make a decision? What was the reaction of your choice-giver? Our early memories give us a window into our lifelong view of the world. Developmental psychologists have purported that it is those first few years of life that set up the blueprint for how we perceive and interact with our world. Thinking back to our earliest efforts at autonomy, exerting our influence on our environment or the people within it, what do you most clearly recall? Did your choices and preferences get met with a positive or negative response? A “yes” or “no”? What did you view the world to be – a place in which your desires were openly acknowledged and often satisfied or a place in which your desires were seldom solicited and frequently unnoticed?

If you consider yourself to be indecisive, ask yourself what fears you attach to making a choice. Are you afraid that you will make the wrong one and that there will be regret or unpleasant consequences? Do you feel that making a choice removes the possibility of alternate, better choices? If we spend our lives waiting for others to make our choices for us, the life we will lead is one that is defined and circumscribed by others. A life where decisions are avoided is a life that is owned by no one. Returning to or Changing Up the Path

To move forward in life, you must open yourself up to risk, faulty decision-making, possibly getting lost, or feeling misguided. There is no “one size fits all” path to success . . . each step you take, no matter how closely you try to follow the path of others, is going to be somehow different due to the individual experiences that you bring along. Knowing where you came from is a key to getting somewhere else – if you don’t acknowledge the history you’ve created, it’s likely the well-trodden path will feel your footfall again.

If you’re fearful of making the same mistakes a second time, without fully accepting and coming to know the ones already made, you won’t know what to avoid or what to chase. Every decision you’re making at any given time reflects the best knowledge that you bring to the situation. Be gentle with your past self and let the person you once were be the guide for who you’re going to be.

Breathe in the past, hold that moment and that breath, and as you breathe out, let that exhalation be a metaphor for the letting go of self-judgment for past mistakes. You are the product of all of your experiences – the positive, the negative, and everything in between. Let go of the shame, the regret, and the sense of failure. The breath you breathe in today has never before been inhaled; let this moment of past and present awareness be a force that propels you confidently into the future you choose from a place of intimate knowing.