We forget to enjoy life if we don’t learn to enjoy it and instead choose to constantly live in the future, waiting for something else to happen, or in the past, thinking about old regrets or resentments.
It’s easy to miss out on the present moment when you’re in some amount of pain, like when you’re suffering at work. You want to escape the boredom, the frustration, the hostility or whatever else you’re having to deal with.
I get it.
My clients come to me because they are dealing with something at work that isn’t going right, whether they’ve outgrown their position or the environment isn’t right for them or they just feel like they are wasting their life there.
Of course, there are moments I want to escape from too.
When you feel like you’re biding time, you don’t want to immerse yourself in the present moment, you want to fast forward to the next moment to get to something better.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
Being In The Present Moment Even When It’s Hard
Enjoying the present moment comes down to mindfulness, which is simply a state of being aware.
When you’re mindful, you’re paying full attention to your moment and everything you’re experiencing in it.
When you’re experiencing pain, though, you’re likely to want to ignore it so that you don’t feel it anymore.
Yet in most cases it seems that when you’re faced with uncomfortable feelings the best way to handle them is to actually allow the feeling to be with you.
This explanation really made sense to me:
If you had a baby (your emotions) and every time it started to cry you stuffed it in a closet so you didn’t have to hear it, how do you think that baby would turn out psychologically when it grew up?
That’s basically what you’re doing to yourself every time you refuse to be with yourself in the present moment because you are experiencing a negative emotion.
Instead, feel it and let it go.
How To Really Let A Negative Emotion Go
Whatever You Fight, You Strengthen, and What You Resist, Persists – Eckhart Tolle
I’ve seen very similar methods for dealing with negative emotions used in the popular book The Sedona Method: Your Key to Lasting Happiness, Success, Peace and Emotional Well-Being, and also by well-known life coach Christian Michelson, and by Eckhart Tolle, who wrote The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.
Here’s the basic method:
- Notice the emotion – be the observer and realize that you are feeling the emotion, you are not the emotion.
- Identify what it is – sometimes we just feel bad, without knowing why. Can you name the feeling?
- Allow the emotion – don’t shove it away because it’s uncomfortable. Your emotion isn’t going anywhere that way. Eckart Tolle says it lives on in the “pain body,” a psychological accumulation of emotional junk that can make you mentally unhealthy or physically ill. Instead, just let it be there and notice that it is something you’re experiencing, not something you are.
- Recognize that emotions are temporary – If you can process your emotions, they can pass. You don’t have to be trapped by the feelings you are having right now.
- Investigation and Response – See if you can articulate what the why you felt the way you did once the feeling has passed. What thoughts or values came into play? What past memories or habits, beliefs, judgements or expectations? Now that you’ve thought about it, is there something you need to do?
- Choose the appropriate response – Maybe you’ll need to apologize, avoid someone, set better boundaries, quit your job, let it go or do something else.
Watch A Master Explain It
This is an amazing video of Eckhart Tolle coaching someone on how to deal with their negative feelings. It can help to understand how to better be in the present moment when negative feelings come up for you.
One of the key takeaways of this video is that learning to be in the present with a negative moment is a practice, but it’s key to emotional growth.
You don’t have to be perfect at it, and there’s learning that can happen even when you’re not. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right immediately. In fact, you probably won’t.
Stop Fast-Forwarding Your Life
As tempting as it is to believe that the future is going to be all sunshine and rainbows, the truth is that it doesn’t get better in the future unless you make it so – and still it’s not going to be perfect because we’re all still human.
You have to do the work to make it better, and that involves being here now.
But, if you’re down with personal growth, there’s no better way to start than with all the stuff that’s right here.
Whether it’s negative emotions from your past, things that annoy you in your day-to-day life, or the fact that your job is miserable, use them to grow and make decisions about what needs to change to make your life better.
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