Individual Counseling Insights From Westlake Village-Based Patricia McTague-Loft
Here’s a pop quiz for you: when you’re daydreaming or just sitting quietly with a moment to spare, do you think more about the future, the present moment or the past? In any of these cases the follow-up question is: are you feeling joy or anxiety as you muse?
If you find yourself ruminating over a past event or experience and feeling anxious or any other negative emotion as you do, you may be frustrated with yourself. Why does it seem to be so difficult to let go of a past experience that you can’t change and only impedes your happiness? Team Tony, writing for TonyRobbins.com, says, “Think back to the tragic day of 9/11. Chances are you can probably picture who you were with and what you were doing when you heard about the terrorist attack. Can you say the same for August 11, 2001? Your memory is likely blurry when it comes to those details. Few people can remember what was happening a month before the attacks. This is because we do not retain information that does not have feelings attached to it. Information with emotion makes an indelible impression.”
There are psychological reasons why some people are predisposed to relive the past more than others, but most anyone can let go if they try. Team Tony offers some tips, including:
Turn Letting Go of the Past Into a “Must.” If you’re really tired of rehashing the breakup of a romantic relationship or some traumatic event from childhood, then you have already had the realization — consciously or unconsciously — that you need to move on. A good first step is to start visualizing all the positive ways in which your life will be better when you let go. “This is one of the most important parts of the process,” says Team Tony, “because it will help you stay committed to letting go of the past.” You need to turn your desire to move on into a commitment.
Condition Your Mind. This is an obvious point but one that bears emphasizing. We are talking about changing the way you think and what you think about — and that clearly involves working on your mind. It would be laughable to imagine changing your body without working on your body — the same goes for your mind. Team Tony says: “No matter how smart you are, how savvy you are or how inspired you are, if you don’t stand guard at the door of your mind, then you give tacit approval to what is disempowering, disenchanting and disillusioning.”
Create Empowering Rituals. Habits can be good or bad, but in either case they are powerful. It’s up to you take advantage of that fact: developing good habits gives you power and control over your own life. Rituals are a specific type of habit developed with a specific goal in mind. Team Tony offers some foundational rituals. “Start your morning with a powerful priming ritual, which combines elements of meditation and visualization to make your day what you want it to be,” they say. “Practice meditation to clear your mind and help yourself live in the present. And always eat right and exercise, because the fuel you give your mind and body is essential to taking massive action.” Once you establish these habits you’re prepared for more highly focused habits.
Shift Your Focus. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking that outside forces control you. Of course some things are out of our control — we couldn’t control the person who rear-ended our car when we were stopped at a light — but it is truly amazing how much our circumstances are actually the result of our own decisions. Focus on how you react to events, how you respond to opportunities — in short, focus on what you can control, which is yourself.