We are surrounded by the message to “live in the moment.” But sometimes, the moment just seems too hard to manage. Our breath shortens and muscles tighten, and all we want to do is break free from the present. This experience happens to us all — a medical exam we want to avoid, a work project we want to erase from our plate. It’s all we can do to breathe and take a step forward.
The thing is, that stress and fear are what continuously hold us back. And they exist in the present. As a result, the only place to handle them is in the here and now.
So I am, for a moment, going to be like all the others — because I want you to feel free of the worry and to tell you what you’ve heard one hundred times before: live in the present. Sit in the present. Be present.
But don’t sit in that hard-to-manage present unprepared and alone. Instead, equip yourself with these simple reminders today, so that you can face your fear and worry with your truest strength:
1. Highlight your strengths.
We are beautiful creatures, built with a balance of strengths and weaknesses. Our minds, though, are these curious things, focusing mostly on the parts of our lives that need improvement. We don’t see ourselves in a fair light in the least. But when you look at those around you, what do you see? That neighbor who is living the life of your dreams; that classmate living great adventures; people finding more time than you can imagine to be social and sparkling.
I’ll let you in on a secret: when they look at you, that’s also what they see. You are their sparkling, glowing, brilliant comparison, the one they want to be. And YOU ARE!
Everything others see in you, everything you deny from your own self-reflection, is true. Highlight your strengths and choose to embrace the part of your reflection that others see.
2. Live without barriers.
We all face obstacles. Walk down the street — take in the sun and the movement; it’s great for your soul! And notice the people around you. I guarantee that not one of them got to where they are today without facing an obstacle. And no obstacle is greater than another; they are just different and a result of being human.
So, when faced with obstacles, we are left with two options: freeze, or take a step forward. Perhaps we could just not be human and voilà! Obstacles will vanish. But until we morph into an alternate life form, we will face obstacles, and we will face the choice to stay frozen in the past or continue moving forward in the present. The thing is, you have already made this choice — and the brave choice at that — plenty of times! To get to where YOU are today, you chose to move forward despite your life challenges. And you made it through! I’m even willing to bet some of those obstacles that seemed so daunting in the past have become silly little memories. It might be hard to believe those obstacles would have ever held you back!
So for a moment, remember that you are here. Remember all you have been through to get here. And smile in the mirror, telling yourself that YOU did that.
3. Live YOUR life.
We grow up in a society that makes us think we are supposed to be a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way. If we don’t follow a certain life trajectory, we are led to believe something is wrong. If we make a choice outside of the norm, we are forced to justify our position, if not to others than to that internal dialogue we have established from all that we’ve learned growing up.
We’ve learned we are unique, and yet we fall into a pattern where no two lives ‘should be’ different.
It’s time to take the temperature of this environment, though. Are the choices you make bringing you joy? Is the life you wake up to fueling your energy and feeding your passions? Are you laughing every day and finding yourself with connections? Do you feel free to unapologetically be you?
If you answered yes to all of those questions, celebrate the life you’ve created. Rejoice in the realization that YOU are someone who brings you and the world around you joy.
If you find yourself leaning towards no, don’t worry! You are not alone! We all end up in that place from time to time. And not all of us are so good at recognizing it, so great work! You really do know who you are — you know enough to realize some changes need to be made to live the life of your dreams. And knowledge is power enough to start to make small choices every day to return to living for YOU and authentically as you. And it’s okay to be wrong; a simple choice can change your trajectory again. Trial and error, when guided by your authentic voice, will lead you on the right path before you know it.
So remember, check in with yourself. Support yourself. Let your inner self shine! You can create the life of your dreams. You can create a life where every present moment is as beautiful as a dream.