Being present is a prominent theme these days in most workshops on leadership, parenting, and personal development. I’m all for being present, as it can improve your life dramatically, because only when you feel present you are actually experiencing something through your senses. Everything else is just a story, whether it’s your projection of the future or recollection of the past. You’re not there. When your attention is not on whatever is immediately in front of you, you’re lost in mental space/time.
Where does your mind go when you are lost in mental space/time?
Where are you when you don’t have or want to be present in your current reality? For instance, when you’re driving on autopilot, but would be too distracted to deeply process something unrelated; or when you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back asleep, but your mind is not sharp enough to work on something productive, etc., or when you’re in a waiting pattern, or at an unnecessary meeting you can’t escape.
Where do you spend your mental time?
Who and what occupies your mental space?
I’m not advocating for “spacing out”, but the truth is that it happens to all of us, it’s normal and natural. The interesting thing is that your mind perceives your mental space/time stories as feeling real: your body relaxes into your memory of a loving hug, and tenses up as you are imagining an encounter with an abusive ex-boss. So, I am making the case for being mindful about getting lost in mental space/time.
You have two options for managing “spacing out”:
- You can choose to make an effort to be present 100% of the time. Be here, now: give your attention to people who are with you, feel the sand on your feet, and taste your food instead of gulping it down while reading emails. If your attention wonders to something that isn’t “here and now”, keep bringing it back to the present. Or,
- When you don’t want to be present, or don’t have enough energy and focus to be present where you physically are, mindfully choose where you want to spend your mental space/time.
The way you utilize your mental space/time depends a great deal on your current energy level and your default mental models of the world. When you are overwhelmed, tired, hungry, and don’t get enough sleep, instead of making a conscious choice about where to spend your mental space/time, your mind drops into its defaults, because this requires the least amount of energy.
So, what are your default thoughts for “spacing out”?
- Do you engage in positive mental conversations with people you love and care about, or are you having passive-aggressive imaginary arguments with people who irritate you?
- Are you using your mental space/time to align your energy with what you want more of, or are you using it for mental rants and for living through imaginary scenarios of epic failures?
- Do you enjoy dwelling on the past? Are you a dreamer or a planner?
- Do you have a big ego, just between us? Do you believe you’re good or bad?
- Do you believe other people are generally good or bad toward you?
- Do you prefer to explore your desires or your fears, your wins or your losses?
- You need to re-examine your defaults for the way you use mental space and. Here’s how:
When you feel rested and well, take a few minutes to create a list of people, spaces and ideas that you would like to explore during your mental space/time:
– With whom would you truly enjoy having a conversation in your mental space/time? This person can be someone you already know (like a friend, or a mentor), or someone you haven’t met yet (like your future soulmate, or your future business partner), maybe even a public figure, or someone imaginary. Make a list of these people.
– What types of locations and situations give you a positive vibe? Make a list of these places and settings, and make it easily accessible.
– What kind of activities or adventures make you feel well, excited, energized? Make a list, and immerse yourself into thinking about these activities when you’re escaping the “here and now”.
When you tune out from being present, and if you feel that your mind must be somewhere else, you might as well feel good in the process. No need to mentally re-hash an argument with an old frenemy, or live through imaginary disastrous date that might or might not happen.
You are where your thoughts are. Where are you right now? How do you feel?
I NEED YOUR HELP! I’d like to feature YOUR STORY. Can you help?
SEEKING STORIES from analytical thinkers who are learning to listen to their senses in order to make better decisions (call it gut feeling, a vision/image, an inner voice, a sudden shift of mood or attention, an unexpected sensory cue). Can you share a story when your body (eyes, ears, skin, gut, feet, shoulders, chest, neck) sent you a strong message that shaped a decision you made? How did it work out?
I would love to interview you, and feature your story on my blog, in the upcoming podcast, or in the many workshops that I teach, with or without using your real name.
The goal is to build a portfolio of case studies in order to help other analytical thinkers understand the benefits of sensing, and incorporate physical/emotional self-awareness into their decision-making effectively.
You can reach me at Alina@AlinaBas.com , and share your story in a nutshell (or a full version). I’ll reach out with additional questions, and possibly to see if we can schedule time for an interview. MANY THANKS!