When we think of being present to the moment, mindfulness or meditation come to mind as activities to develop this skill, and both are great because they encourage us to slow down. Some practices I’ve used to embrace the present include taking a walk and experiencing all the things that could be seen, felt and heard, and sitting by the beach and seeing what unfolds. Others have found activities like colouring-in to be very helpful at embracing the moment and staying focused on the present. But there is a much deeper aspect to embracing the present, one that cuts through to the heart of who we are as people.
Embrace the present by not playing the victim
All of us have the capacity to play the victim in one or more areas of our lives.
At work or in our business, we may feel we are at the mercy of market forces or unreasonable workmates or bosses. We may feel that others have had more “lucky breaks” than we have, and feel that we are always at a disadvantage, or overlooked for promotions or advancement.
In our relationships, we may see ourselves as the ones less-valued. We may view our pasts as hindrances to developing solid friendships or the relationship we’ve always wanted. We may feel “unlucky in love” and sense we are destined to not find that person with whom we can the kind of relationship we long for.
However, embracing the present asks that we not play the victim, that we accept that we are where we are because of our decisions. This is not an easy thing to do and requires courage to face up to the mindsets we have shown and the choices we have made which have contributed to where we are right now.
This does not negate the fact that there are forces at work and people outside our control, but the one thing we can always govern is how we respond to these people and situations and whether we stay in the place we’re at…or move on.
We do have the power to respond to our circumstances in ways we choose…and responding as a victim is not helpful on any level, primarily because it allows us to sidestep any responsibility we have for the situation we are in. And a victim mentality is very unattractive quality to foster as others find such thinking difficult to connect with and we can start to see everyone else as either better than us or more fortunate.
Playing the victim card can lead to a lack of gratitude for all that we do have to be thankful for or that we can celebrate. This victim-mentality can bring us to a point where we can see no good in anything, either in ourselves, in others or in our daily life experiences. This is very sad and limiting way to live.
Embrace the present by not blaming others
A corollary to playing the victim is blaming others.
Most of us can look at one or more situations in our lives – either presently or in the past – and rightly attribute blame or culpability to another person. And others are often to blame for significantly contributing to the more negative impacts life has on us.
But, living in a state of perpetually blaming others ensures that we stay stunted in our growth as individuals and that we never take responsibility for the part we’ve played in these more difficult situations. It is not comfortable to look at our own shortcomings or to objectively assess our complicity in terms or poor decision-making or limiting mindsets. However, it is an essential place to get to because, at this point, we are able to look at ourselves with realistic eyes.
Embrace the present and take responsibility
At the heart of embracing the present is the imperative to take full responsibility for where we are, right at this moment.
Focussing activities – such as I mentioned earlier in this blogpost- are opportunities for us to disengage our brains from the blame game long enough for us to assess our situations with clear eyes and a focussed mind. This is where mediation is so helpful because, as we engage with our breathing and disengage our conscious minds, we are more able to take a step back from ourselves in a conscious space and look at life through fresh eyes.
Even the more childlike activities of colouring-in and running our hands through bushes and grasses allows us to step back from the cares of our lives, from the usual paths our brains move in, and give ourselves time to reset our thinking. And in resetting our thoughts we are more able to see our own actions and decisions in a different light and can more readily assume responsibility where we once had resisted.
Once our minds are clearer, we are more able to realise that the place we find ourselves in is a direct result of all the choices we have made up to this point in our lives.
Embracing responsibility is a sign of maturity
It takes a certain measure of maturity to be able to assess the impact our decisions have had on the difficult things we have experienced and to accept responsibility for where we are. But doing so frees us up to move forward without the baggage of the past, without the ties of unrealistic expectations of life and allows us to be open to possibilities that remain closed while ever we see ourselves as victims or others as to blame.
Embrace the present. Accept responsibility. Live freely and lightly.