Time, and how we perceive it, has a profound effect upon the way we experience our life and what we get out of it. We all have a relationship with, and attitude to, the past, the present and the future and getting the balance of these things right is key to enjoying a balanced and successful life.
For example, those people who dwell on the past -- either by constantly mulling over what went wrong and how things could have been different, or by firmly believing that things were so much better in times gone by -- can miss the opportunities for positive experiences in the present and fail to plan for good experiences in the future. People who have this emphasis on the past tend to be unhappy and discontented, even depressed.
Those who live entirely in the present have a tendency for hedonistic behaviour -- living simply for the moment. In the extreme, this leads to people having no mind for the future and failing to plan. Such people often show self-destructive behaviour aimed at instant gratification and so end up with little or nothing to show for their lives having never invested in their careers, realtionships or finances.
In contrast, people who are overly future orientated are often successful but may lack a sense of happiness because they are constantly arranging for future eventualities.
Fortunately, most of us have a mix of these perceptions and, by being aware of how they can affect out lives, can start to bring about a much better balance between them.
Studies show that these attitudes are formed early in childhood and influence our adult lives profoundly. This was illustrated by an elegant experiment with children and marshmallows. It went like this:
Young children were separately given a single marshmallow and told that they could eat eat immediately. However, they were told that if they delayed eating it while they were left alone for a short while, they would then be given an additional marshmallow to eat. Some children opted to eat the marshmallow immediately (they were said to be present-orientated). Others waited to get a second marshmallow (they were said to be future -orientated). The children were revisted later, when they were 18 years old. Those who had delayed eating the marshmallow in order to get a second were, on the whole, more confident, less moody and less envious than those who had eaten the marshmallow immediately. What's more, those future-orientated children also had significantly higher SAT results than the present-orinetated children and were overall more successful.
Knowing that attitudes to time have such a profound effect on ours and our children's lives can enable us to review our perceptions and work to change them. It can also make us think carefully about the messages given to children as they develop their time perceptions too.
Many of my clients have issues which are related to their perception of time -- in particular they are often affected by an event, or series of events, in the past which they find difficult to move on from. Hypnotherapy can release the limiting beliefs formed by such events and, with the use of time-line imagery, can enable them to put past events where they belong -- safely in the past.
If you feel you are held back by too great a focus on the past, present or future, it could be worth you seeking hypnotherapy from a practitioner who can use this approach. I offer this from my practice here in Barwell, Leicestershire -- contact me for further details.
For a fascinating account of time perception, including how to identify and, if wanted, change yours, take a look at The Time Paradox by Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd.