Reconciling the Past and Staying in the Present

Reconciling the Past

Many spiritual teachers typical focus a great deal on “staying in the present moment.” For those who don’t live with bipolar disorder it’s still a great challenge not to hold on to the past. Because I live with bipolar disorder I feel like it might even be more difficult for me to “let go” of the past.

While I know it’s not healthy to hold on to the past and certainly even less healthy to ruminate about it, I still find it difficult not to get stuck sometimes in a time when life might have been a little easier. I also have those moments when living in the present actually triggers my thoughts and takes me back to a different time and place.

Whether it be with my current job situation or my past career I can’t help but wonder where I would be without this illness. This mental war doesn’t happen relentlessly, but it does affect me everyday. I realized this when I started paying more attention to my thoughts. A little thought monitoring in an attempt to stay more in the present led me to realize just how much I dip back into the past.

Then there are the times when I feel I have to try to make sense out of a bipolar episode and the subsequent fallout from those times. There are days when it makes me so tired I often find myself going back to bed just to stop the unwanted memories.

What helps me focus on the present?

There are times when I can successfully take a deep breath and bring myself into the present. It also helps me to recognize sometimes I overestimate the “good times” from the past. After all my “before bipolar life” was not perfect either. Then again, when I do look back I realize bipolar disorder was affecting me from the time I was in high school, maybe even sooner.

It is no secret my life did not turn out the way I wanted it too. But I tell myself anyone who gets taken out of her life because of any illness is not necessarily living a dream life. I am not so sure a dream life exists anyhow, although I would have like to have known a life without so such struggle and pain. I simply did not get that opportunity.

Each day is a new start, a clean slate. A new day is a chance to try and live fully in the present focusing on the days gifts. I try to practice acceptance of “what is” and fully embrace exactly where I am.

I do consider myself a relatively positive person, but I have realized the tough times have caused me to become a little more cynical than I would like to admit. I don’t sit around waiting for the “shoe to drop.” But as I become more aware of my thoughts it shed some light on the disappointing views I hold close inside.

Once I was a dreamer and I was really good at setting goals and reaching my dreams. I still hold hope that my dreams will come true, even if those dreams consists of simple everyday living that inspires my soul and not grandiose dreams that go up in smoke after the end of a manic episode. The truth is through the proper treatment I am blessed without having mania and that is surely a plus. Now I focus on reconciling my past and staying in the present without giving too much credence to wishing my life was different.

Paying attention to my thoughts has given me a new-found realization that I am glad I have found. It’s not an easy task to stay in the present moment, but it is where life takes place. We all know the past cannot be changed and the future is not guaranteed. The present is all we truly have. I just wish the past would leave me alone and not grab my thoughts backward.

Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to focus most of my energy in the present. At the very least it will give me a peace of mind and that’s all I really hope for.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Reconciling the Past and Staying in the Present

  1. Your piece resonates so much with my experience, that I’m reblogging it (assuming that’s okay with you since you have the reblog icon installed.

    This especially hit home: “sometimes I overestimate the ‘good times’ from the past. After all my ‘before bipolar life’ was not perfect either.”

    I often feel like I fell, but I was not a star fixed in the sky (although, they, too, move and die). I was more of a yo-yo, shooting high, quickly achieving goals, then crashing down.

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    1. Kitt I completely understand what you are saying. I have found that I go back in the past and make it a little better than it really was. But I also relate to your “star” example. If only the shooting star didn’t burn out! Thank you very much for the reblog.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Kitt O'Malley and commented:
    Amy Gambles piece on Reconciling the Past and Staying in the Present resonated with my experience. I often feel like I have fallen down from up high, and am less of a person than I once was. But I was not a star fixed in the sky; instead, I shot high, quickly achieving goals by working extremely long hours at high intensity, then would come crashing down. Over and over.
    These passages Amy Gamble wrote especially hit close to home. Her wisdom to live in the present I am continually learning.
    “There are times when I can successfully take a deep breath and bring myself into the present. It also helps me to recognize sometimes I overestimate the “good times” from the past. After all my “before bipolar life” was not perfect either. Then again, when I do look back I realize bipolar disorder was affecting me from the time I was in high school, maybe even sooner…
    “Once I was a dreamer and I was really good at setting goals and reaching my dreams. I still hold hope that my dreams will come true, even if those dreams consists of simple everyday living that inspires my soul and not grandiose dreams that go up in smoke after the end of a manic episode. The truth is through the proper treatment I am blessed without having mania and that is surely a plus. Now I focus on reconciling my past and staying in the present without giving too much credence to wishing my life was different.”
    Thank you, Amy Gamble of Shedding Light on Mental Illness.

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    1. Lilypup,
      Sorry you are having a tough time right now. Hang in there and keep believing things will get better. Glad reading this helped if only just a little. Take care of yourself. Amy

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  3. I am in a manic episode currently so please forgive any perceived bluntness. My words are coming straight from my spirit and so may seem callous and cold. I am sorry if that happens. I never desire to hurt anyone.

    Anyways, what I wanted to say was “The spirit noticed when you stopped dreaming. A little part of her fell away and went to sleep a dreamless sleep. Now there are so many dreamless sleepers, the perfect dreamer cannot shape the perfect dream, she cannot see the perfect dream. She cannot set foot in her blessed realm. But she has awoken enough to know she dreams. And that is the beginning of the end.

    The choice to remain dreamless will remain yours. Always and forever. But your energy will ever feel scattered when you do not equalize yourself to the fullest extent. Your energy flows naturally through the past, preset, and future. By finding balance between the three, you get balance in yourself, and give more balance to the offbalanced world.

    By choosing to dream again, to glimpse a future yet to be visited by reality, you lend your fire and your personality to building the perfect world. It will always be your choice to wake up.

    But know the time to dream the impossible dream is upon us. What you choose to do with that is up to you. The future will be what we dreamers dream it will be. The present doesn’t know what the future will be. Since we can already see glimpses of it and feel its peacefulness and euphoric pull, let’s make the future the most beautiful dream ever. Let’s dream the impossible dream. The key is remembering to come back down to reality and HAPPILY marry the two.”

    I love that you are sharing yourself to the world. It lends fire and personality to an otherwise grey and barren wasteland. Thank you for being you. You are so beautiful and unique. I look forward to hearing more about your life. Your experiences. The lessons you learned. And the hope you have for the future. Because the future is where I’m at. I’d at least like to know what you hope it would be, even if you aren’t willing to dream it for the spirit.

    Much love for you.

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    1. Exploring Alura,
      Well I do believe in dreams and have hopes for my future. But I do believe staying in the present is where my power comes from. It doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in dreaming…I’m a big dreamer. But living for the future gets me in trouble. The present moment is where life happens and the spirit can be alive and full of inspiration living day to day. There is a really good book called “Spirit Junkie” that I have been reading. It’s full of great information about staying in the present. Living in the present doesn’t mean you can’t have dreams. It simply implies that what we have, what is reality is in the present moment. I find a sense of peace by staying focused on the present and letting the past go. The future will be here one day I just don’t know what it will look like. The future is part of the mystery of life. Thanks for commenting. Amy

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      1. I agree completely it is necessary to stay present in the present. I just believe us dreamers have the ability to say present in reality while simultaneously dreaming of the past or future. We can actively shape our reality, our present, based on our feelings of a past we can’t see and a future we can’t be sure of but knows exists.

        It all about maintaining focus in the here and now, the present, while overlapping the wisdom of past lessons learned, and the hope of a brighter tomorrow. In the middle of that is the peaceful calm I speak of. And the love of all I seek to share. I hope you can find your way to it. Peace that is.

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  4. I totally understand where you are coming from. Controlling out thoughts and staying aware of them is hard work. But practice, practice, practice sharpens our skill of being mindful – staying in the present. It’s a journey and the results are worth all the work. I’m glad for you. You are doing good. Your post reinforces my commitment to living in the moment and awareness of my thought life’s affects on my bipolar swings. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. Journeyupward,
      Thank you for your compliment. You are right. It takes practice to stay in the moment, something I haven’t perfected but am aware I’ll always keep working at it. Thanks again. Amy

      Like

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