Staying Present When You Don’t Want To... by Natalie Banks

We have all heard the advice about staying present in the moment. The gurus tout it as the secret to true happiness.

But how is it possible to stay present in every single moment? When things are painful and when things are stressful it feels impossible to stay present. In fact, escaping seems way more appealing.

You don’t want to immerse yourself in the present moment when you are feeling discomfort. In fact, you want to fast forward to the next moment to get to something more comfortable. Staying truly in the present moment comes down to mindfulness, which is pretty simply a state of being aware.

When you are aware of everything, you are giving all of your attention to the moment and everything you are experiencing. When you’re experiencing pain, though, you’re likely to want to numb it or make it go away. You don’t want to feel it all. But in actuality, in most cases like this, it’s better to go ahead and face those feelings. Feel them and then set them free. Fighting them actually multiplies the emotion.

Eckhart Tolle said, ‘Whatever You Fight, You Strengthen, and What You Resist, Persists.”

Negative emotions don’t go away when they are stuffed down. They simply fester and rise again and again until we release them. So how do we release them? First thing you need to do is take notice of the emotion – become the observer instead of the feeler. Realize that you are ‘feeling’ the emotion and you are not the emotion.

Next you to need to figure out exactly what you are feeling. Sometimes we just feel bad, without knowing why. Can you name the feeling? Where did it come from? Was it triggered or is it new? Recognizing the emotion is a big step.

Then you need to allow the emotion – don’t shove it away because you don’t like it. And feeling negative emotions do not make you a bad person. Anger, sadness, stress are all normal human emotions. I used to think I needed to fight negative feelings but once I learned to allow them to flow, the intensity was actually reduced.

Recognize that emotions are temporary – If you can process your emotions, they can move on. You don’t have to be trapped by the feelings you are having right now. You are only trapped if you allow them to stay.

Becoming the observer of the emotion and letting the emotion flow will actually bring a shocking sense of clarity and help you to release and repair. Learning to be in the present with a negative moment takes practice, but it’s key to emotional stability and peace. 

You don’t have to be perfect at it and don’t worry if you don’t get it right immediately. In fact, you probably won’t. But each time you try, it gets easier. The awareness grows and in time you will be able to do it without much effort.

As appealing as it is to believe that the future is going to be all sunshine and happiness, the truth is that life has its obstacles. People will hurt us, things will go wrong, and the only way to have true happiness is to learn to thrive in any situation. 

You have to do the work to make that possible and that means being here now. Staying present. Noticing everything around you. Not just the negative emotions. Notice the good too. And you will find that freedom will meet you right where you are at.

Meet August Author Natalie Banks!

Best Selling and Award-Winning author and a previous recipient of The North Carolina Governor's Writing Award. She weaves characters with relatable humanity and stories that touch the heart and soul. She has quickly become a favorite among readers. When not writing, she spends time on the beach in North Carolina with her husband and children.