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Stuck in nostalgia; how to move forward?
September 15, 2012 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Stuck in nostalgia. How to move forward?

Simply put, I am a very past oriented/nostalgic person. I often think about my past (both the positive and negative experiences). I spend much of my waking life thinking about where I have been, what I did right, what a I did wrong, how I got to where I am today, and so on. It detracts from my ability to function in everyday life. It readily impedes my schoolwork, my ability to maintain healthy habits or a functional schedule, and many other things.

My question is this: How do you maintain your attitude as a future oriented person? I have the desire to, but I feel as if I lack the experiences, tools, or the mental setup to look forward instead of behind.

ADDITIONAL INFO: I have a psychiatrist and have frequented psychologists. I am far more functional today than I was years ago but I still yearn to better myself. Thanks for any suggestions you may have! :)
posted by fieldcannotbeblank to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Living in the future is just living in the past preemptively. Live in the present. Meditation personally helps me do that.
posted by cmoj at 1:36 PM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Do you have anything in your life to look forward to? There's widely-cited research that a lot of the enjoyment of future events like vacations, for example, is derived from anticipating the event. Maybe one thing you could try it to start listing things you're looking forward to that will happen within the next year.

If you don't have things to look forward to, make plans.

A related idea might be to start setting on goals and working on them. Just make sure these are concrete goals that you have a legitimate expectation of achieving. If you're unhappy being the type of person who feels stuck in the past, you aren't likely to be happy if you're the type of person who is always talking about things they're going to do, but never does them.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:46 PM on September 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


I once remember reading that people with anxiety tend to feel nostalgic for the past because they didn't really live it at the time. You might start trying to really live your daily life: be yourself, take risks, and seek the life you really want.
posted by salvia at 1:47 PM on September 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


@cmoj, MoonOrb: Thanks very much! I think more effort in the present day, would make my present day and future all the better.

@saliva: that hits home...
posted by fieldcannotbeblank at 1:52 PM on September 15, 2012


* salvia, not saliva. sorry about that
posted by fieldcannotbeblank at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2012


Do you fundamentally understand that the present you are living today is actively and in a really tangible way creating the past you're going to look back on next month or year or decade? I am pretty sure the only way you're going to fix this is by making an effort to have an awesome present, and to pay attention to it.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:57 PM on September 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am pretty sure the only way you're going to fix this is by making an effort to have an awesome present, and to pay attention to it.

YES. And pay attention to what DarlingBri said there.

“The shortest answer is doing," a quotation attributed to George Herbert. Do the thing: Is it taking a class in something offbeat, and learning a new skill? Is it taking a manageable risk? Is it holding up your hand and saying, "That's past, and the time I give to it in my head takes away from my life now"? Is it talking with a friend and having a really good conversation? Is it walking somewhere and seeing something new? Do the thing. Do the thing.

Nostalgia is a kind of mental rut for me. I tried to learn from personal history, but I can't change it, so the point must be to take that learning and do something new and different with it. I've shaken up my own life to the point where there is very, very little time to look back because there are so many things on fire RIGHT NOW that I cannot afford to do anything but pay attention to them. Nostalgia is my box of things in the attic, to be looked at once a year and then put back.

Be now. Do now. Create the present that you're going to enjoy looking back on. Good luck.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:12 PM on September 15, 2012 [7 favorites]


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