We all like presents, right?? Just kidding…this is not that kind of present. I mean, technically it is a present to yourself to be present, and to everyone else around you. Being present is something I have to work at, though. I have a tendency to get in “do” mode, especially when I have a lot going on. I put all feelings aside and plow ahead on whatever it is I’m doing. Get in my way when I’m in this mode and you will likely be pushed aside. I learned this from a young age. Our culture is a culture of doing, of accomplishments, of goals. Even when I’m doing good for someone else, it’s just that. “Do”ing. I’ve learned recently to take things a little slower, though. I’ve learned to tune into my heart and follow the guidance it gives me, and most of the time, that includes slowing down. We don’t necessarily have to be slow to be present, but for me, that has been a key ingredient.
What does it mean to be present? For me, it means taking a deep breath, tuning into my heart, allowing my heart to open and proceed from there. If I’m engaged in a conversation, it means listening to the other person speak, looking them in the eye, and responding to them with love. If I’m engaged in an activity, it means working only on that activity before I move onto the next. In my past life as an engineer, I usually had a few different projects I was working on at one time in addition to the random phone calls that would come in to figure out a solution for a project that was under construction. I was never able to focus on just one thing. It made me a sloppy engineer, and I made mistakes. That’s not really a good thing for an engineer, but for someone who needs to work slowly to be placed in a fast-paced work environment was a recipe for disaster. I didn’t recognize that in myself for a long time, and when I finally did, I took myself out of that environment. I no longer work on someone else’s deadlines. I work on my own time. I am able to take the time to put my whole heart into what I’m doing.
Sometimes being present for someone else means taking yourself out of the equation. Let’s say, for example, that your child comes up to you while you’re washing the dishes and wants to play. You really want to finish washing the dishes because you’re not sure when you’ll be able to get back to it. Your child, though, doesn’t recognize that. Their world revolves around them, and you are their world. Instead of ignoring the child or pushing them away, what if you stopped washing the dishes long enough to get down at their level and tell them how much you love them and that you would love to play with them as soon as you finish what you’re doing? And then do that.
Adults are just like children, actually. Our worlds revolve around us, too. We have a little more understanding of all of the things there are to do as an adult, but we also would love to have a little more attention, right? We can show ourselves that attention by stopping what we’re doing when we notice an emotion coming up and honoring that part of ourselves like we would that small child. A lot of the work that I’ve done with my many therapists has been around inner child work, actually. I’ve totally ignored that part of myself that wants to go play, because I’ve been in work mode most of my life. I’m learning that the little aches and pains that I experience are my body’s way of telling me that there’s something that little child inside of me needs to express or resolve. I’ve learned to stop what I’m doing, take a breath, and ask what it is that needs to be recognized, loved and accepted.
Are there places in my life where I can be more present? What is my truth in this moment? How do I feel right now? What do I need in order to feel safe in this situation? These are all questions to ask when you find yourself tensing up in the stress of the holidays. What you need may be as simple as taking a deep breath. It may be a hug from whoever it is that you’re talking with. It may be removing yourself from the situation entirely. Slow down this holiday season. Be more present with yourself and in turn with others and just notice how that changes things for you.
Thank you for joining me on this adventure, and I’m so grateful that I can share these tools with you that I’ve learned. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me in my lifetime!
I bless you with the peace and ease you need in this holiday season.