Vigilance: 5 signs of a lack of presence in your life

non-existence? What is this supposed to be? Summary: Experience is too little, think too much. You can read the long version and the symptoms here.

So I think I am. Knowledge is power. Oh, how good it is that we got smart in time and invented the internet, otherwise we would almost never have been able to work or date during the pandemic, it’s a terrible idea. We humans are relatively bright and we attach a lot of importance to that, especially in our society. We shy away from stupid questions or misspellings (as if there’s something wonderful about German spelling) and go crazy when we don’t have an explanation for something. We prefer to trust watches and smartwatches over our sense of time, tiredness or hunger, and once we don’t know but only have intuitions, we are confused, unsure and afraid to make decisions.

We are more than just thinking beings

But our ability to think and see the relationship between the flying leaf and the wind isn’t all that makes us who we are. It’s a trait like the pit’s front legs: it has proven to be an evolutionary feature, and thus it still exists. But there is more. We risk neglecting it if we focus too much on thinking and mental abstraction. In the worst case, with serious effects on our (mental) health. Because what we sometimes forget with enthusiasm about our cognitive abilities: each of our thoughts is connected to our body. Without a living human being, there is no (real) comment under a post on Instagram. And as a physical unit, we not only need applesauce, potato gratin and sleep, but we also need a sense of being. This means closeness, immediacy and a sense of the moment.

Too much “meaning” and too little existence can make us sick

Explains psychologist Dr. Karsten Wolff of Liebermenta Schlossgracht Hospital. “I experience something through my body or feel someone else’s and experience an echo.” Based on Hans-Ulrich Gumbrecht’s philosophy (“This Side of Interpretation”), Karsten Wolf offers face-to-face therapy in his ward, a modern form of therapy that can help or prevent mental disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders, such as these.

In moments of existence, our thoughts recede into the background and we enter a state of flux. For example, when we get carried away in mid-air at a festival. Or we forget the time with friends and suddenly realize we’re the last in the restaurant. Or when we leave all our worries behind while jogging. Or feel the sun on our skin, hear the sound of the sea, smell the salt in the air and think of nothing but “Hmmm…”. We need moments like this in our lives to stay healthy. To have a balance and a counterweight to the world of ideas that we are constantly in. In which we plan, check the tasks, look for reasons and expect the worst. And create memories.

“It’s about creating a healthy swing between a culture of being and a culture of meaning,” says Karsten Wolf. Exactly what that looks like, and how the relationship between the two should be, can vary from person to person, but we all need both aspects of our lives, according to the psychologist. But how can we recognize at an early stage that we have a mismatch? According to Karsten Wolff, the following signs can indicate a lack of attendance.

5 signs of a possible absence

1. Longing to touch

We experience essentially the most important and at the same time the strongest experience of being in contact with other people, in bonding and in physical and emotional closeness. Not in a Zoom call, not in a WhatsApp conversation, but actually together. Therefore, the lack of presence can manifest itself in an intensely felt need for closeness and human touch – not in a sexual sense, but in general for something like a hug, a hand that goes down on our back, or holds our back.

2. Tendency to ruminate

If we start thinking more often, and keep slipping into a cycle of thoughts that are hard to get out of, this may be a consequence and symptom of not having enough presence in our daily lives – and meeting friends is often a more appropriate countermeasure than trying all sorts of tricks. mentality.

3. Sleep disturbances

The tendency to ruminate can in turn lead to sleep disturbances. If we lie in bed in the evening or at night and our rational thoughts do not allow us to rest, it may be because the culture of meaning has increased in weight in our daily lives. It is different when we are emotionally disturbed or when we emotionally process the impressions of the day – in this case, there is no sign of a lack of presence.

4. Insensitivity

If we insert too much of ourselves into the abstract realm of thoughts, at some point there will not be enough mental capacity for emotions. We feel joy and enthusiasm less intensely, we hardly feel angry or sad, but instead feel killed and given up.

5. Difficulty enjoying company

Besides the tendency to brood and emotional coldness, difficulties can arise when there is a lack of presence, separation from society and making friends and engaging in closeness. If we often feel uncomfortable and isolated when we are with other people, and if our thoughts are usually somewhere other than a party or a coffee shop, this could be an indication that our experience of being is really turbulent because we have lived in lack for so long.

Anyone who notices one or more of these symptoms on their own can try to be more present in their lives through more frequent and direct interactions and contacts with other people. A daily routine that involves meeting friends, relatives, or physical closeness in partnership contributes to a healthy balance between the experience of meaning, presence, and our overall mental health. “Interconnection is the most powerful motivator for the experience of being,” says Karsten Wolff, “there is nothing that can take the place of direct human contact.” Because even more fundamentally than thinking beings – we’re still social beings.

If you want to know more about the topic:

  • “Attendance Therapy. New Psychotherapeutic Effects in Changing Western Thinking” by Carsten Wolf, Fingley Lan, and Frederick J.
  • “This aspect of interpretation. In the production of existence.” by Hans-Ulrich Gombrecht
  • for informational materials on face-to-face treatment at Libermanta Clinic Schloss Gracht


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