During such uncertain times, making the right decisions about finances, health, family, and wellbeing is on most of our minds. Zimbardo, Sword and Sword (2012) explain that the way in which we make decisions is intertwined in the way we perceive time. So what determines how we make decisions to begin with? When making decisions we consider our present surroundings, we anticipate future consequences, and we remember our past mistakes or victories.

What is ideal is to be able to shift time perspectives between the past, present and anticipate the future. Zimbardo et al. (2012) use the term optimal temporal mix in which an individual manages to shift between different time perspectives. In which one time zone can be given precedence of the situation while the perception of other time zones can take the back bench when the need arises. The authors state that what may happen is that individuals may fixate in the mindset of making decisions based on a specific time perspective, without allowing other time perspectives to provide some perspective in order to make a decision.

Phrases such as “I have always had a negative life therefore I will remain like this”, “Spending time on yourself is a waste of time there are much more important things that need your attention!”.

From their research the results suggest that individuals within their research experienced six time perspective factors:

Past Positive Oriented:

Individuals who are inclined towards being past positive oriented focus on their positive memories and aspects from their past. This time perspective helps us retain positive memories which help them connect to themselves and their loved ones.

Past Negative Oriented:

Individuals who incline towards being negative past oriented focus on their negative memories and aspects from their past. This time perspective retains the negative memories which could lead to individuals thinking, feeling and reacting based on negative past experiences.

Present Hedonistic Oriented:

Individuals who incline towards being hedonistic present oriented explore pleasures, socialise, and pursue hobbies amongst others.

Present Fatalistic Oriented:

Individuals who incline towards being present fatalistic oriented individuals experience negative thoughts of their current existence.

Life Goal Oriented Future Oriented:

Individuals who inclined towards being life goal oriented future oriented are focused on achievements, control, and challenges.

Transcendental future Oriented:

Individuals who incline towards being transcendental future oriented focus on spirituality, life beyond death and other existential ideas.

Each of these time perspectives have an important part to play in our everyday life. How much we let ourselves explore these different time perspectives is another question. Continue reading PT 2 of this blog!

Karl Grech is a counsellor. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples within Willingness. He can be contacted on karl@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.

Zimbardo, P., Sword, R., & Sword, R. (2012). The time cure: Overcoming PTSD with the new psychology of time perspective therapy. Jossey-Bass.