How do we define the meaning of time? Is it a simple matter? Is it as simple as just looking at a clock or an hourglass counting as the moments pass?
How does the feeling of time, change during our life? Of course, we cannot simply stop time or make time pass quicker.
In different phases of human life, the perception of time is characterized by fluctuations. People perceive time in different ways according to the events that occur in their life. Sometimes, when thinking about time, people often think about the meaning of life and death, as time continues to go by merciless.
Time flows by like a river that never stops, moving from the past to the present and from the present to the future.
Time has three phases. The first one is the phase of the past which is experienced through memories and nostalgia. The second phase is the phase of the present which has to do with what we are doing here and now and how we are living in the present moment. The third phase is the phase of future in which we have laid our expectations, hopes and plans.
All of us have the awareness that we only have a certain time in life. Others experience this awareness more intensely, while others not much. The point is that we all somehow understand that we cannot predict how long we will live because this depends on many factors. However, the important thing we have to understand is, it’s not how long we might live, it’s how we experience life itself. For example, if we spend our life on meaningless experiences, we will feel like our time here is very short. On the other hand, if we spend our time making better choices, experiencing more meaningful events that are in line with our values and beliefs, and expressing our creativity, we will feel that our life is full, long enough and content.
Sometimes we experience situations in which we feel hopeless, sad and hurt. However, in these situations, we must think that “hope always dies last”. Additionally, if we think about the happy events in our life, this gives us hope for the future.
It is very important to have a good understanding of our everyday life, even if we feel that some days seem like illusions. This is not necessarily bad. On the contrary, it is only then that our reminiscence can lead the way back to hope again. This way, through hoping again, we can trigger emotions and desires that had disappeared from our life.
The art of psychotherapy is to help people discover their capabilities and potential and bring these good elements of their personality to the surface again. It helps them cope with the difficult and complex situations in their life. It helps people when they feel that time is stuck and it’s torturing them, or when they feel in their mind and soul that they are being chased by it.
Through understanding our emotions, we can understand what is going on in our mental world. It is important to allow our emotions to be expressed, because this way we understand ourselves better and learn more about us. Reminiscence has an emotional investment that follows us throughout our life and is often responsible for our behavior.
Reminiscence is also often linked with sadness and our desires. Getting to the root of it, it means that we are dwelling in the abyss of our sadness, our hopes, our expectations and our desires.
What is very important is the fact that we cannot exist without time, which is often overwhelming for us because it is constantly counting our days and our time in life. Apart from the time that goes by in our life though, there is also our internal clock, our internal time, which is very private and important for each of us. This kind of time has nothing to do with clocks, it has to do with our mental state, and it is a form of contemplation.
While reminiscence exists due to the past and serves the past, hope belongs in the future and actually exists for the future itself. When we keep reliving the past and bringing it to the present through memories or when we keep wishing that the future was in the present, then we are not living, rather we are hoping to live in the future. It is very important to understand that we must live in the present, embracing every moment of life through the meaning we have freely given it.
Spyros Metaxas Psychiatrist-Psychotherapist