Recent tragic events in the news have made people begin to discuss the way they conduct their lives, and what happens when things go terrible wrong. Hearing about children left in unattended in hot cars with deadly consequences, our first thought is how could someone do that to a child? How could a parent forget their child? It is naturally to want to place blame because it is easier to understand if the person who did it is a monster. If they were a horrible parent, it means that someone like you would never be able to do something so awful. It helps us distance ourselves from the event and feel comfortable. Thinking that you, too, could forget your child and leave them in a hot car to die is too difficult to imagine so we tell ourselves that these parents were abnormal.
Unfortunately, most parents that have suffered the loss of their child due to their own mistake of leaving a door to the pool open, turning their back with a child in the bath tub or forgetting their child in a hot car, are just human beings who were not being mindful. Mindfulness is being present and being aware of what you are doing and not living your life on auto pilot.
Being aware, present and mindful is not the same thing as being careful or cautious; however, if you are aware, present and mindful you will be safer and so will others. We have all had the experience of leaving the house and getting a mile away when it hits us, “Did I lock the front door when I left?” We question ourselves because when we were leaving the house we were not mindful, aware or present.
I relate it to being “under the influence”. When my clients who are suffering from addiction present to therapy their family will report the client has done things under the influence they do not recall doing and would not have normally done. When you are not present in your life, when you are not aware or mindful, you are mentally impaired. Let me explain.
It is not unusually if you have driven to work the same way for year or even for months that you go into auto pilot. You get to work and a coworker may ask you if you saw the new building being built two blocks from the office. Your mind is blank and you question yourself because you do not even remember the drive into work, let alone the new building being built. It scares you a little because you wonder how you could drive all the way to work and not remember one moment of the drive.
So what happens when you are aware, present and mindful? First, in my experience you start to enjoy your life. You are not living in the future or the past and you reduce your stress and anxiety. Second, you will notice that the benefits extend to every part of your life. You will be a better at your job, being a parent, a spouse, friend and you will appreciate the people and things in your life more. The benefits for living your life in a state of mindfulness are endless. It is a ripple effect. Because you reduce your anxiety you will see your health improve which will give you more energy to be the person you want to be for yourself and your family.
Now, you are wondering how to learn to be aware, present and mindful. You may even feel that your life is too hectic and you have too many problems in your life to “live in the moment.” I would ask you, “How’s that working for you?” Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Clients present to therapy report that their lives are a mess but when they are offered the tools to repair them, they make excuses why they cannot change. I always tell clients that you can change things only when you are ready and willing to be uncomfortable for a while. You must be willing to acknowledge that you need to change and understand that you deserve to have a better life.
If you are finding yourself being more and more overwhelmed with your responsibilities, feeling that you cannot get ahead of everything and seeing the symptoms of anxiety, please come in and let’s talk about what we can do together to get you back in touch with your life. You are missing so much and as with those heartbreaking stories about children left in hot cars tell us, this can be deadly. Wish you the best, because you deserve it!