The Biggest Obstacle to Being in the Present

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In my opinion, the ability to be in the present moment is one of the biggest foundations to business success.

Being present allows you to make decisions that aren’t based in fear, to be able to engage in difficult conversations and to be able to prioritize tasks based on real need rather than external factors.

The Biggest Obstacle to Being in the Present

So why do so many of us have such a hard time just being in the present?

It’s because we’re too busy obsessing over the past or worrying too much about the future.

You can’t simultaneously be in the present moment and be worrying about something that happened earlier, or planning for something that needs to be done.

It just doesn’t work like that.

When our mind is busy replaying scenes that aren’t currently happening, it shifts our focus away from what IS actually happening right in front of us.

Have you ever had the experience of somewhat listening to your child tell a story while also writing an e‑mail or sending a text?  This is what it is like to be physically present, while mentally, not being in the present.

The present situation doesn’t get our full attention.  And hence, the quality of our attention in that moment, and our interactions with others, decline.

So if you’re convinced that you want to pay attention to being more present in your life, then congratulations.

It seems easy to just say, ok… I’ll be more present (no biggie, right?).

Actually trying to stay in the present as often as possible can be a bit trickier than it seems.

Because we may sometimes be using this strategy of keeping our mind busy in the past or the future as a way to avoid difficult feelings that arise in the present moment.

The first step is identifying your own personal patterns

1. Stuck in the past

Are you someone who often reflects on things that went wrong in the past?  Do you find yourself ruminating over how you should have done things differently and how things may have turned out had you made different decisions?

Or maybe you get caught up in memories about how good things once were and find yourself yearning for what once was.

If so, then you might have a tendency to get stuck in the past.

The Biggest Obstacle to Being in the Present

2. Stuck in the future

Or perhaps you’re somebody who’s always looking towards the future?  You might live in your head, worrying about upcoming events.  Or maybe you spend your time making mental to-do lists and planning for things that need to be done.

If this sounds like you, then you might have a tendency to get stuck in the future.

3. The flip flopper

Or perhaps you’re more of a flip flopper and you worry both about the past and the future.

Anything but be in the present.

Because being in the present means being present with our feelings.

Yikes!  I want to be more present.  What do I do?

If you’re anything like me, you may have slipped into patterns of getting stuck in the past, the future, or flip flopping as a way to manage difficult feelings without even realizing it.  

For me, once I realized it, it became easier to bring myself back to the present.  I was more quickly able to notice when I was getting stuck in my thoughts about things that were not related to my current situation.  This alone helped me to bring myself back to the present.

If you’re wanting to bring yourself back to the present moment more often, it can be as simple as noticing when you are no longer in the present moment.  Catch yourself thinking of the past or worrying about the future.  Without judging this, take a deep breath.  

Get connected to your body senses and to the sensations around you in the environment.  Connect with what you’re hearing, with what you’re seeing, with the pressure points between your body and the ground or your chair.  Connect to how you are feeling.  And then finally, gently redirect your attention to the present moment.

If at any point this becomes too much and you are overwhelmed with intense emotions that feel stronger than you can cope with on your own, then it is ok to let go of the present moment.  You may benefit from working with a professional to help guide you through this.

Bringing yourself back to the present moment once will not effect much change.  This needs to be done multiple times throughout the day until you’ve developed a state of being where presence is more easily your habit than absence.

However, the more you can train yourself to notice when you’re slipping off into living in the past or the future and the more you can bring yourself to the present moment, the more grounded you will be in your business decisions.

If you’re interested in learning more about stress free communication at work, I’d invite you to check out my blog posts at lindsaylapaquette.com.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

10 Stress-Busting Daily Mindful Moments

Mindfulness: Harnessing a Superpower

The Future of Healthcare: “Develop a more harmonious workplace through mindful communication” – Part 1

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech-Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two neurodivergent children, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette

Lindsay Lapaquette, M.Sc.(A) works with middle managers who want to communicate authentically so they can effectively lead their teams without losing themselves. As a former Speech Language Pathologist, Lindsay applies her expertise in the neuroscience of communication and connection to help managers foster an environment of trust and respect in their teams, so that everyone can bring their best selves to work.

Lindsay’s approach has been profoundly influenced by her work with First Nations organizations, her experience as a parent to two children with pervasive mental health challenges, and the premature loss of both of her parents. These experiences have taught Lindsay great lessons about the power of excellent people skills that extend well beyond her professional expertise.

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Hi, I'm Lindsay

Leadership communication skills to elevate team performance.

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