Much too often, we mentally fight against wave after wave of coulda, woulda, shouldas: I could have done more. I would have made a different choice. I should have known better.
Or we look to the future and ask the positive what-ifs (What if that promotion comes through?) and the anxious what-ifs (What if she dies?).
Either way, we’re mentally time traveling, and while we can’t always prevent this from happening, we should learn ways to help ourselves focus more on the present, and especially when in dialogue with someone else.
When your mind flees to the past or runs to the future, you’ll certainly miss out on important information and your ability to truly connect with another person will be significantly lessened.
Consequently, you can pull your mind back to the present with a number of simple, subtle solutions:
*Reestablish eye contact with the person who’s speaking.
*Notice your breathing. Slow it down if necessary.
*Repeat back to the person what he or she has just said, or ask clarifying questions.
*Visualize setting your wandering thoughts on a mental shelf to be taken back up later, when you’re alone.
As you become more aware of your mental time traveling, you should also become more aware of your particular “tells,” the things you do, say, or feel when in conversation with another person that reveal to yourself if you’re mentally in the past or the future.
By working on your tells, you ought to begin seeing progress in your presence.