Is Your Focus On The Past Or Future Exhausting Your Now?

Girl dreaming of future and past

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Hi there, welcome back to Kelly Martin Speaks. I’m your host Kelly Martin and this is episode 69.

Today I’m going to talk about how we drain our life away by focusing on the illusion of the mind.

A few years ago, I was lost in wishful thinking, focused on an alternative reality to what I was living. I would say my obsession, which is what it was, came from a teaching that is popular across the world right now and that is ‘We create our reality’ and it comes in the form of using something called ‘The Law of Attraction’. Now while the law of attraction may or may not be real, it has very evocative powers in that if someone who suffers from low self-esteem or mental health issues becomes drawn to this teaching, they can lose sight of what is true, what works and what is needed in life.

Instead what happens is we try to avoid the negative by focusing solely on what we perceive to be the positive.

My Pollyanna Thinking

The problem comes  when we think the positive is having a Pollyanna outlook, where no matter what challenge comes along, we simply positively think it away. While this may sound okay, if you suffer from low self-esteem the very thing you need to do is make peace with the negative, to acknowledge what is happening and to embrace your feelings, whatever they may be saying to you.

When I was addicted to focusing on the future, I was full of exhausting denial. So much so that I left a job I had been working at for three years because I deeply believed that once I left, the money I needed to follow my dream (back then it was to travel the world and be a travel writer) would arrive.

A year later, nothing had changed and soon after my Pollyanna personality sank deep into a dark depressive episode.

I had been living my life according to what was lacking, not on what was here. I missed out on so much, precious memories, abundance, love, friendship and opportunities, because I had such a strong tunnel vision that I missed everything around me.

It was during this time that I had serious suicidal thoughts. I had to question my reality once again, question who I was, why wasn’t my life working, how did I fail at creating my reality?

The fact is that if we have a deeply traumatised unconscious, no amount of positive thinking can override this. This is because we first need to acknowledge that our thinking and patterns are a bit off, a bit wonky and not real. We need time to unravel the programmes we have been receiving from other people, brainwashing and conditioning taken on from our parents, peer groups, teachers and others in our early life experience.

Once we are able to face what actually is happening, we can then begin to accept what is happening. We can have compassion for the part of us which tried to protect us by creating such a struggle within. And we stop avoiding the life that wants so much to bring us what we need in terms of healing and love.

This is where when our focus lies on the past or future predominantly, we are literally wasting our life force energy.

As the mystic teacher Osho said about the topic of AWARENESS:

This mind gives you a sort of stupor. Burdened by the memories of the past, burdened by the projections of the future, you go on living – at the minimum. You don’t live at the maximum. Your flame remains very dim.

So, while it may sound attractive to ignore your current reality to focus on an imaginary future, is it really an empowering and healthy way to live life?

I don’t think so.

Getting Lost In Fantasy

happy woman christmas

I wrote in a recent blog post about fantasy and how:

Sometimes, we need to let go of the fantasy and find fulfilment in our reality.

We may think that we want success in certain areas. It could be career, relationships, money, health, but the more we focus solely on the future, the more we miss the opportunities for all of these things in the here and now.

I believe as humans we can’t help but look to the future with hopeful eyes and a modicum of this is perfectly healthy, but if someone suffers from depression or anxiety, this is when focusing on the future becomes more dangerous and damaging.

When I have experienced depression, my future view of my life was bleak. During heightened anxiety episodes, my future view was of fear and worry. People with mental health issues need to balance out how we consider our lives. Looking back in regret or forward in sorrow never heals, never supports who we are or who we are becoming.

I know of many people who spend all year daydreaming and focusing on future vacations they are going on. Not only do we as a species focus on the imaginary, but we spend a lot of time focusing on what is coming, in our goals or our plans, to the detriment of our loved ones and opportunities we have before us now.

Are You Using The Future To Escape The Present?

John Green said:

“You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

And how many of us use the future to escape the present?

I am going to stay with my mum at Christmas again this year and because my life is very unconventional, outside the box of how ‘normal’ people live, I am looking forward to my time in the more social world, as someone who is pretty much on my own in terms of socialising most of the time.

What generally happens is that I project onto the future time away an ideal of what I imagine it will be. I imagine this close relationship, I imagine these fun times we will have, but I know deep down this is not what happens, but something in my mind cannot help but place the idea onto the future experience. Instead of accepting I am going and then simply get back to what is here and now, I find myself daydreaming of illusions that haven’t and probably won’t happen either, based on my previous life experience.

The great thing about dropping the focus on the future or playing out the negative or positive of the past, is that the illusion drops from our eyes. The illusion that blocked how we perceive our reality falls away and instead what is replaced there is awareness instead of illusion.

An Addiction To Wanting

girl wishing fantasising

Instead of having an addiction to wanting, because the wanting is what we want more than the actual object of the wanting, we have an awareness of appreciation of what we do have. We begin to see that those things we were desiring in the future would have been replaced with more desires and more desires, because the mind and ego never wants completion or sense of acceptance with ‘what is’. The mind thrives on imaginary fears, worries and even positive hopes and dreams.

Mental health issues like depression or anxiety can be caused by an obsession with the fearful future or a negative and fateful future based on potential trauma or challenge from our past.

We may believe that because things did not work out well in the past, the future will be the same, but here is where we lose every single time.

We exhaust our now, by not truly living, because the past is dead, the future does not exist.Imagine how much energy we are wasting trying to escape what is?

As the author Byron Katie often says:

All I have is all I need and all I need is all I have in this moment

If you feel you are stuck in anxiety or depressive thoughts about your future, I highly recommend seeing a therapist or if you are unable to, reading the book ‘The Mindful Way Through Depression’ by  Mark G. Williams and other authors. This is not just for people who suffer from depression, but anxiety too and any other mental health issue you may struggle with.

Thanks for listening to another episode of Kelly Martin Speaks

If you have a question or topic you are struggling with and would like me to answer on an upcoming podcast episode, please get in touch. Your name will be confidential. EMAIL me at or message me on Facebook via my page Kelly Martin Speaks.

And don’t forget, if you feel that others are passing you by and ‘The Not Good Enough’ voice is screaming loudly, pop by to find out all about my books, including Book 1 ‘When Everyone Shines but You’

Until next time…bye for now.

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Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

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