Choosing Presence over Escape

Choosing Presence over Escape

Presence.  It’s a gift, and to me it means being fully invested in the moment.  It’s listening intently to the person who is speaking to you.  Not thinking about what you will be saying next, or any other distraction that comes up to take space in your mind.  Presence is being fully engaged with all of our senses.  Seeing the beauty in the moment, no matter how hard it is, and not looking for an escape.  Being okay with the unknown that is surrounding us and embracing what we are experiencing in our current reality.

We all have 24 hours in our days, and we get to decide how we spend our time. It’s so easy to zone out, and allow our minds to be racing on a loop of thoughts that do not serve us.  It’s easy to scroll on social media or reach for ice cream when you are bored or upset.   In the moment, it feels like a good option, but usually doesn’t leave us feeling uplifted or energized. How can we use the gift of presence for ourselves and the people in our life? 

The past month, I found myself spending more time on social media than I wanted to, and I realized that I was using it as an escape from my feelings and having to completely experience the now.  When I didn’t want to think about the grief that I was going through, I found that it was easier to distract myself with mindless scrolling.  I didn’t have to feel any sadness or heaviness if I gave my mind somewhere else to go.  Unfortunately, the grief never went away, and I would just end up feeling worse about myself in the comparison/negative news of social media. What if we absorb ourselves in our day to day life instead of finding a getaway? How would we feel?  Possibly more inspired and connected to this world and our loved ones? 

When we are distracted in the present moment, that’s time that we can’t get back.  Time is our most valuable possession, and we each get the choice to decide how we use ours. How does it feel when you are talking to someone, and they are clearly in another world?  It doesn’t feel good, and it makes you feel not so important.  Distracting yourself from your life is the same thing, and gives yourself the same sign that you aren’t important either.  Mary Kay Ash once said that you should imagine each person in your life with an invisible sign that says “Make me feel important.”  How simple is that?  Giving your full and undivided attention to the person in front of you.  Really listening and hearing what is spoken.  Not just listening to their words, but reading their body language as well.   So many people need someone to listen to them, especially in our current times.  Connection is needed now more than ever.  How can you connect with others?  Who has been on your mind who would love to hear from you?

There were many times over the last year that I didn’t want to be present, but I was as in the moment as I could be.  When my Grandma was in the hospital and in home hospice, I didn’t want to be present.  I wanted to be anywhere else, but I also knew that there would be a time that I would miss being there in that moment with my Grandma and our family, even if it was so hard.  I would miss holding her hand, and being so exhausted from all of the sadness and unknown.  And I didn’t want to be present in November when I drove my Dad and I home, and he started playing songs on his phone that he wanted played at his funeral.  I fought back tears and didn’t want to hear the songs or see the meaning of what he was trying to prepare me for, but I also knew as we drove, I would someday miss that moment.  I would want to be in his truck, trying to pretend that I didn’t know what he was telling me that his time on Earth was coming to a close. I didn’t want to be in his truck hearing Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton sing “As I get where I’m going” with my Dad in the passenger seat, but now I would give anything to go back to that drive on the cold, windy day.  Writing these words takes me right back to those very hard moments, but my hope is that in sharing them, someone who may someday be in my shoes can do their best to show up for their loved ones and themselves in this moments.  Is there something in your life you’d rather not deal with and find an escape from?   How can you bring yourself back into the now?

There’s so many ways to become preoccupied, but there’s also ways to bring ourselves back into the moment.  Each moment is a new beginning. My phone is a big distraction for me, and I have added an app to track my screen time which has helped me to see how much time I am really spending on it.   I removed the notifications from a lot of my apps on my phone, and have put it outside of my bedroom when used as my alarm clock.  I started putting to-do items and papers in an inbox, then dealing with them at a certain time instead of always feeling like there was something that needed my attention.  This all is a work in process, but reminding myself to be conscious and aware has helped.  Maybe try making an effort to become more mindful when you drink a glass or water or eat a meal.  In nature, it’s easier for me to be present as I listen to the birds and watch the branches sway in the wind.  I believe that awareness is the first step.  Do you have any tips for being more present in your life?

I encourage you to take a moment to assess your ability to be present for yourself and others. Know that we all have time that we wish we could take back, but we get a blank sheet each day to write our new story.  Being present isn’t always easy, but I believe that it is always worth it. I am choosing to be present instead of looking for an escape in these unknown times. Is there anything in your life that you wish that you were spending less time doing?  What are some ways that you can become engaged while in a conversation?  How could you be more present and show up for yourself and others?