living in the past

5 Ways To Identify If You’re Living In The Past and How To Move On

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Is Nostalgia Preventing You From Having What You Want?

Written by Andrea Carter, Mental Wellness Expert for SheSpark Magazine, CEO of Wealthy Woman Warrior

Have you ever wanted to re-live an experience from your past?  Something that you did with your family, friends, or past partner that was “The Best Time EVER”?  Maybe it was so great that you decide to re-live it and then, all of a sudden you realize, it’s not nearly as great as you remembered it.

There is a distinct difference between reminiscing about the past and living in the past.  Reminiscing is simply thinking about it and remembering fond memories, whereas living in the past is chosen because it’s familiar.

Think of the middle-aged guy you know that talks about his high school days as a football hero – barf.  Or the woman who worked in corporate three years ago, who left to become an entrepreneur, and is still trying to run her career as if she’s in corporate – eek.  Perhaps it’s the woman who’s been dating the same Peter Pan- type man who won’t commit, but she’s dying to get married and have kids – sh*t!

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Why the heck do we get stuck in the past?

First, your brain is an amazing organ.  When it comes to remembering, emotional centers in the brain are recruited because they reside close to each other.  When you are recalling the past, your memory recruits the emotion you previously associated with it and you’ll try to either replay it or repel it. Research shows that it’s the familiarity that is comforting and almost addictive in our ever-changing world.

5 Questions to identify if you are living in the past:

1) Is there a particular period of time you talk or think about three times or more a week?

2) Do you feel like your happiness will never return to what it was during that time period?

3) Are you frustrated with your current situation in life?

4) Are you fearing your future?

5) When you think about the past, does it make you sad that it’s over?

If you answered ‘yes’ to three of these questions, you may be stuck in your Good Ol’ Days.

First, you’re not alone and can move past this.  The future is fraught with uncertainty right now.  One of the scariest things to think about is the future and what if these best days really are behind us.

While some people live in the past because they don’t want to face the present, others live in the past for fear of what may come.

3 Tips To Stay Present So You Can Live The Life You Really Want:

1) Invest in learning how to think differently. Research shows that creative thinking, visualization, and learning to retrain your thinking changes your results.

2) Remind yourself of what you want your life to look like and then ask yourself, “If I had this life, what would I be thinking about instead?” Write the answers down you come up with and then act on your answers.

3) Breathe.  Breathing should be natural, yet research shows people forget to breath when they’re stressed or worried.  Fun fact: excitement and panic are experienced in the same way in the body. The only difference is breath! Athletes use this to help increase success – you can too.

Life is hard. The good news is you do have control over your life; you just need to learn to practice that control.  As the adage goes, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.”

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