When it comes to achieving self-actualization it is ultimately about living the present moment to it's fullest. One major reason why this does not happen, as I've said, can be traced to memories. In my last blog I outlined how memories of past negative or traumatic experiences can lead to a person being stuck in anxiety, unable to live the present moment to it's fullest.
Ironically, even good memories can distort our experience of the present moment, leaving us stuck in the past in a different way. For example, high expectations can lead to major disappointment in the present moment if it does not live up to one’s memory of the past, which can be another source of emotional pain. People also often get caught in their past success or happiness, and this has even been celebrated as a social conditioning narrative. One that is common is the idea of Glory Days, a story that are best days are behind us (think Bruce Springsteen's old hit song). What good is buying into this social story other than making you feel better for not doing anything else with your life beyond those glory days? If you are stuck in the glory days the message you are giving yourself is that the best part of your life is already behind you, a relic of your past. How on earth are you going to be able to bring out your greatest potential and achieve self-actualization? With this way of thinking you have essentially already given up on life.
In this way memories can get in the way of taking action in your life. They take you out of the moment and can leave you unprepared to act in the present. The glory days are right here right now, and any concern about the past or future just gets in the way. In Boston there was an old saying about Manny Ramirez, and it was thought to be why he was such a consistently good hitter. He was not concerned if he struck out the last at bat, or if he was in a slump, or if he had created a buzz of controversy by reassuring fans if the Red Sox did not win the World Series in 2007 there was always next year. It was just "Manny being Manny." He was always in the moment and about the moment. The way out of the past is the present, the platform for the future is the present.
Make your glory days now, and then do the same tomorrow. Don’t rest your laurels on any one achievement because as time passes and these moments fade into memories, that achievement is in the past. Sure, take time to enjoy, relax and revel in a success. Recuperate from the work that went into achieving that, but don’t let your achievements in life stop there.
Good memories are good, but they are what they are: a memory, and that is it. Relish the past, turn up the volume when you hear that song that reminds you of some great times you had and fall into reverie. But don’t get stuck there and don’t let it hold you back from traversing new frontiers or lead to disappointment because something happening now wasn’t as good as it was in the past. Experience the present moment for what it is, not compared to what it was. Take action in your life. Each moment that you do something new you are exploring new frontiers of your self. So, go out and find new dimensions of yourself and don't get stuck in conditioning from bad memories that leave you stuck in fear and pain, nor nostalgic good memories that leave you frozen in time.
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