How to Be Present, When You’re the Type Who’s Always Thinking Ahead

Sometimes, we speak just because we need to be heard.

It’s not about the words or what’s being spoken or why. What we say isn’t a request to be analyzed or figured out. We don’t want to be “problem-solved.”

At many points in our journey, we’re simply compelled to express. We feel called–urged–to speak something aloud. There may not be an intention behind it: no manifestation in play or the urgent delivery of a “divine message” that’s at stake.

Sometimes, we speak just so we can feel heard.

Any yet, there’s something to this idea that tends to strike us “highly self-aware” types as either selfish, or pointless.

There’s almost an embedded sense of shame with the idea of “saying something, just because.” It almost feels dirty to speak without a true intention or a purpose–without an end-goal that we’re driving towards.

Are you the type who’s always thinking ahead? Are you someone who naturally looks to find a purpose in every statement–or scours for a problem to “solve”? If so, you might know this feeling.

You might feel like it’s selfish to impose your “inner monologue” upon others. You might think, “These are my own private thoughts. I’m not sure if they even make any sense. Why should I share them? Why would anyone else want to hear this?”

And yet, there will be moments in which you will feel called to self-express “just because.”

I encourage you: the best thing you can do for yourself is to honor that calling to self-express “just because,” and to witness it, and to be present with it.

In these moments, I believe that what we simply desire to be heard. We long for our place in this world to be seen, and speaking something aloud reaffirms that we are, indeed, here.

We long to self-express because self-expression is an act of presence.

It’s a dedication to the moment; a manifestation of our truth finding physical or audible form.

When we feel called to speak “just because,” I find that it’s usually because we long for someone to hear us–this is a human yearning to be seen and heard, loved and acknowledged and accepted. We want, at our core, to know that we’re not alone–because in our hearts, we know that we’re never alone and that the “separateness” we see in this world is all a deceit that hides the startling truth of our profound connectedness.

Self-expression for self-expression’s sake is not a bad thing.

There ought to be no shame in it, no worry about it–nothing negative.

At our core, we wish to self-express because on a deep, fundamental, soul-level we intrinsically understand that because we exist, we deserve.

We deserve to feel. We deserve to be seen. We deserve to yearn and wonder. We deserve to explore the depths of our hearts and expand the capacities of our minds.

And though I believe that we each feel this guttural yearning on a deep soul-level, it’s in these moments of “wanting to self-express just because we can” when our conscious, intentional minds are saying out loud,

“Hey, I really do deserve to be here. I want to relish this state of being. I want to just sit here and fucking love every bit of it, because I can.”

This is why we long for others to just be with us from time to time–not for a particular purpose or reason or intention or with a goal in mind.

From this place of simple presence with someone we love, appreciate, value, respect–hell, even a stranger or new friend– we want them to say, “I understand.”

We wish for someone to meet us in a moment, presently, that we can share here and now, together.

That’s all.

And if you’re the type who struggles to stay present with others, here’s a simple little method you can use to practice presence in the next conversation you have–when you feel yourself jumping into “thinking ahead mode.”

How to Give Your Presence

  1. Firstly, truly be there. Make the time, and get there early. Silence your phone. If your mind is elsewhere, if your eyes dart throughout the room, if you fiddle with the paper wrapper of a straw, all of these little cues should tell you that you need to breathe, let go, and allow yourself to fully and truly be there.
  2. Give space. Imposing upon someone’s physical or emotion space naturally prompts him or her to retract, pull back, close up. Because each of us are so often not in a place of presence, we need to help this other person find presence by coaxing this curious (and sometimes vulnerable-feeling) state out of hiding. Giving your presence feels like an invitation, not a demand.
  3. Listen beyond the words. This piece started by saying, “Sometimes, we speak just because we need to be heard.” Maybe this is the case for your friend today. Don’t jump into a mode of problem-solving or psycho-analysis. Not everyone is dying for you to be their therapist–sometimes, he or she just needs to be heard. So, listen beyond the words.
  4. Offer understanding. When she needs it, remind her that you understand–that you can relate, and why you can. This is empathy in motion–compassion building a bridge of connection, togetherness, unity.

Giving someone your presence is such a powerful gift to give.

You can give it endlessly with a bit of will-power and self-awareness. And, more and more, it would seem that giving the “gift of presence” is especially powerful for all of us, because so many aspects of our lives are begging us to be somewhere we’re not.

From the news to advertisements and the cultural underpinnings of our society, we’re begged and asked to look forward and jump ahead; to problem-solve problems that don’t yet exist and remedy maladies that we anticipate arriving.

  • The “pursuit of happiness” is a journey that can’t exist if you’re not already unhappy–or if you’re “not happy enough.” We focus on what we lack, and not what we have–and we lose our presence.
  • Every advertisement speaks to what you don’t have that you ought to have. Deficit-mindedness pulls us to long for more. We miss out on the goodness and abundance surrounding us in this moment.
  • Every pharmaceutical drug commercial is tempting you to connect various pains, worries and struggles to a potential disease, dilemma or disorder. It’s no wonder we each think that we’re “broken.”

This game of back-and-forth isn’t going anywhere. It’s how we’re hard-wired, us humans: we know that tomorrow is coming, so we smartly anticipate it, plan for it, expect it. We shouldn’t ignore that reality.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t flourish in a state of living-presence by practicing it as best we can, whether by ourselves or with one another.

When I doubt the things I say, like this essay on “being present,” I always have to remind myself being present is the only way to love. Presence is the only place where one can be in a state of joy, contentment and fulfillment. Love can only happen presently.

My friend, one of the worst feelings is when we feel called to self-express “just because” and someone we love neglects that presence.

 

Truth is, we’re just as guilty. When we feel ourselves trying to problem-solve everyone and getting swept up into “thinking ahead,” we unearth the presence and peace of mind of those around us. It’s truly tragic to rob someone of their own divine alignment to this moment, today–to their attunement to what matters most in this moment.

That’s why I’m writing to you today, to remind you–and to remind myself.

With the ones you care about the most, it truly is okay to just sit and listen when they need to speak. It may be tough to determine when they’re asking for help and when they just need to be heard. Either way, your approach can remain the same.

Listen quietly. Give the gift of presence and provide your full attention for a few moments. Tell them, “I understand.”

That’s all you need to start with. You’re hearing them. You’re receiving them. You’re present with them.

Where our attention goes, energy flows. Where our words lead, actions follow. Embody the essence of the everyday warrior who wages a battle for good, for presence and for peace of mind–and others will follow you.

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