Thinking About the Past and Future Prevents Staying in the Moment

Psychological Counselor Ekrem Çağrı Öztürk highlighted that constantly thinking about the past and future prevents people from staying in the moment, leading to various psychological and physiological issues. Öztürk stated, “People who constantly think about the past and future cannot stay in the moment. This situation prevents individuals from enjoying life, listening to their feelings, and can lead to physiological discomforts. They may experience stagnation, inability to focus, sudden outbursts, or inability to express their emotions, and fatigue. In fact, all these difficulties invite the person to change. Although it may seem like a problem or crisis, it is an indication that the current situation is no longer serving them well. If we can stop complaining about and judging ourselves, opportunities will come to us,” he said.

The Effects of Dwelling on the Past

Öztürk noted that constantly thinking about the past indicates the presence of unresolved issues. “No one wants to constantly think about the past. If we are doing so, we must remind ourselves that there are unfinished matters. These issues will occupy our minds to varying degrees until they are resolved. To illustrate with a brief example: Suppose a friend, manager, or partner said something to us that left us shocked and deeply upset at that moment. If we couldn’t respond as we wished at that time, we might spend the entire week contemplating how we would have liked to respond, creating numerous scenarios in our minds to resolve the situation. Instead of trying to resolve the issue, we should first listen to understand. We need to discover what it was that deeply upset us and prevented us from responding at that moment. Otherwise, if similar situations occur, we might find ourselves reacting the same way each time and then thinking about it afterward,” he explained.

The Consequences of Constantly Thinking About the Future

Similarly, Öztürk emphasized that constantly thinking about the future, like thinking about the past, is exhausting and suggests that there are underlying issues prompting this behavior. “Exerting effort not to think can be more taxing than the act of thinking itself. Focusing on understanding rather than on the event can lead to a healthier and longer-lasting resolution than a momentary relief. For instance, if someone is constantly planning the itinerary, museums, restaurants, and activities for friends visiting their city, there could be many reasons why they are preoccupied with the future. They might be trying to minimize the risk of any problems by thinking through every possibility. Someone who fears being judged might believe that thorough planning will avoid criticism from friends, or someone who needs love and approval might constantly plan for future events to seek appreciation. We can see through these examples that thinking about the future holds significant meanings for us,” he elaborated.

The Importance of Staying in the Moment

Öztürk concluded by stressing the importance of staying in the present moment, saying, “In life, there is an infinite now. The past is actually an experience that helps us make sense of life. The future is a state that prompts us to seek ways to protect ourselves and survive. Our dreams push us to live, and plans make our lives easier and are healthy. The issue arises when we get stuck in the past or future. When we get stuck, emotional, mental, or physical challenges will alert us. We must remind ourselves of the existence of an infinite now and intend to stay in the moment.”

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