Have you ever been told that you’re not really here. That you’re not being present in the moment?
Hearing somebody speak but not listening to what they’re saying?
Finding it difficult to engage with the people that you love and care about while you’re lost in your own thoughts while the world goes on around you?
A sense of not feeling present in the moment?
What you’re feeling is the desire for mental dissociation – a major symptom of unhappiness. It is a coping mechanism where the mind goes into survival mode to escape pressure, stress and anxiety.
Many men suffer from this every day. Coming home from work where all that you want to do is to sit down, watch the television and perhaps fall asleep.
It’s not that you don’t want to play with the kids, or listen to your partner talk about their day; you’re just so mentally tired.
So in need of a break.
Just so you can get through to the weekend where, perhaps, you’ll have the strength to be present.
Recognising these signs in yourself is a wakeup call that things need to change.
By proactively taking some simple steps you can reverse your mental absence and again enjoy the precious moments of life with those who we love the most.
Step 1 – Take the time to switch off
The start of being more present begins with the trip back home from work or a period of deactivation time where you take proactive steps to mentally switch off.
Far too many men spend the time travelling between work and home simply doing more work. Either looking at the phone or replaying the day in their mind.
Try engaging in an activity which requires you to focus on something not connected to your work on the journey home. Perhaps an audiobook in the car or reading a book on the train.
Stop yourself thinking about the working day when you find yourself doing so. It’s a great practice in training your mind to assert control over your own thoughts.
Step 2 – Ritualise your transformation when arriving home
You’ve put the key in the front door. You close it behind you. It’s the end of one part of your day and the beginning of a transformation back into your environment.
Take the time to have a shower. Change your clothes and put on some relaxing music. Take a moment to appreciate the space around you.
By following a series of relaxing and ritualised routines when we first get home we create a process of unwinding.
Of reaching a state where we’ve fully left behind our stress and are ready to enjoy the rest of the evening.
Step 3 – Put away your phone and turn the TV off
Phones and the television are vehicles of disassociation.
Perform the conscious act of putting the phone away and don’t look at it until the following morning when you’re getting ready for the next day.
Don’t turn the television on.
Television allows us to escape but distracts us from the importance of interacting with those around us. It requires passive interaction and not to be thoughtful about what we’re doing, which is so important for being present.
Resist the temptation to use the television to escape and instead focus on things that require presence of mind and body.
Step 4 – Combine physical and mental presence
One of the best ways to be present in the moment is to do something other than retreating into yourself on the sofa.
By choosing an activity that requires you to engage with others you are less likely to be distracted by your own thoughts and more engaged in the task that you are performing.
If you’ve got children, take the time to play with them. Suggest to your partner that you go for a walk during the warmer months. Take part in the thing that you most enjoy doing with your loved ones.
Step 5 – Engage with tasks at home
It’s easy to fall into a routine of performing tasks around the house separately. However, by sharing jobs at home together with your family you reduce the temptation to detach yourself.
Cook the evening meal with your partner. Play an active role in getting the children to bed. Plan with your partner your next holiday.
Any task that makes you interact with your partner and stops you from not being present assists with being present in the moment.
Step 6 – Take an hour to unwind before sleeping
Just like utilising the time that we spend before coming home to unwind, it is important to use the time before sleep to unwind to make sure that we get a good night’s rest.
Just as routine helps children to sleep better, routine helps adults to do the same.
Use the hour before sleep to do the things that you find most relaxing, while being mindful not to allow yourself to focus on your worries.
Step 7 – Keep on practicing
The most difficult part of any new change is your ability to sustain it over time.
Trying something for a week, deciding it’s not working, then reverting back to type is not the way to proceed.
Steps like these are designed to provide a way of tackling mental dissociation. However, they are unlikely to be the complete solution that fits you entirely.
Change takes time and learning about what keeps you present and what doesn’t is an important part of personalising your own technique for being present.
One of the main sources in life of being happier and more fulfilled is to enjoy the present. To not put your happiness off until another day. To spend your life trying to get through the days in the hope that happier times lie ahead.
I can assure you that they don’t.
Happiness exists within yourself and only by taking steps to change will you succeed in finding the happiness that you’re looking for.