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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

Where is Your Mind Living?

Reduce anxiety and depression through mental presence.

Beautiful Latina with eyes closed sitting above a creek in a green park.

Hi everyone! Welcome to “deep thoughts,” with Natasha. :)

This, obviously, is a very strange question, but yet I often ask my clients this. The mind is a very powerful thing, and if used wisely we can have more peace and happiness. If not, it can create not only mental health problems, but physical health problems, anger problems, relationship issues, performance issues, etc. This post is meant to give you one tool for your toolkit, to help you start living with a healthier mindset. So let’s explore this question...


Often people live a lot in the “past,” with regret. They have thoughts like:

“Why did I do that?”

“I wish it didn’t go that way!”

“I should have said something.”

“I should have left sooner.”

We are not able to change anything about the past, and this leaves us feeling so empty and sad. This becomes depression.

On the other hand, when we live in the future this is a whole other story. When we have ‘what if’ thoughts like:

“What if I fail?”

“What if they don’t like me?

“What if I don’t get better?”

This creates so much pressure and unhealthy stress on us. This catastrophic thinking becomes anxiety.

Young black man in home on laptop, staring into space and thinking.

Being present is so important to not only our mental health, but the relationships around us. To be mentally absent means to be there physically, but our mind is somewhere else. Do you ever zone out when having dinner with a loved one, or have friends complain that your mind is somewhere else? Others can see this as you’re uninterested, bored, or want to be elsewhere.

So where should we live?! What if we found a balance of learning from the past, being prepared for the future, but live in the PRESENT. This means being in the moment and enjoying what is right in front of us, instead of missing the moment because your mind is somewhere else.

Here is a simple step to help redirect us to the moment in front of us: “Thought-Stopping.” The idea is that when you notice that your mind is not present, stop that thought by doing something to put yourself ‘here.’ Listen to music, clean the house, exercise, do yard work, call a friend, read a book, play with your dog, sing.

For example, next time you are distracted because you remember something to do, make a note on your phone of when to do it, and then get back in the moment. When you have a big test coming up, tell yourself, “Thursday I will study for that test, but right now I’m having dinner with my friends.” Or when you have a big presentation next week, remind yourself “today I’m at my son’s game, and tomorrow I will work on it.” Just be present!

Unlearning bad habits, like our minds wandering, takes time to change so we have to respect the process and accept that this takes time. Old habits are automatic - they come naturally without thinking - so it does not change overnight.

Be patient with yourself and celebrate the small victories! Maybe next time we play with our kids outside, our mind will be on trying to catch the ball versus the next work project. When we think about past mistakes, maybe we will think “I learned a lot from that,” versus, “Why did I do that?” What if we allowed ourselves to enjoy the small things in life, like sitting outside with a cup of coffee (with no phone) and looking at what’s physically around you? So now ask yourself, “where is my mind living?”


Man of color with red backpack, reaching up to inspect a yellow Ginko leaf in the fall.

If this question causes you unexpected distress, or trying “Thought Stopping” on your own is not enough, therapy can offer even more support and tools. Contact me and I can connect you with a therapist that fits your needs.

Wishing you well -


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