Accept – Then Act
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it”.
I have recently read ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle; I was introduced to his writings when I first went to ASCA and had an introductory interview with one of their therapists.
What he told me gave me an insight into my situation which literally blew my mind.
If I said to you that at this very moment you are neither anxious nor depressed, what would you say?
When the therapist told me this my initial thought was “of course I’m anxious and depressed, why else am I here”. The therapist smiled and explained more.
Basically, depression lives in the past and consists of those negative ‘what if’s’ and ‘if only I hads’; all of those regrets that have piled up over the years and that we spend too much time dwelling on.
In the future lurks anxiety; the worries and stresses of what may happen, either in the near or distant future. A lot of these anxieties can be linked to what happened in the past and your fears that the same (or worse) could or will happen again.
When you are in the present, you are solely focusing on ‘the now’, which sounds simpler than it really is.
To be honest, when I read ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘Practising The Power of Now’, I didn’t really get it; I got the basic idea but there was a lot I missed, so it is something I will return to at a later date (Below are links to Amazon if you are interested in reading the books).
If you hear people talk about mindfulness, then this is the same thing. On their website Mind describe it as follows:
“Mindfulness is a technique which can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment – to what’s happening in your body, your mind or your surroundings, for example – in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness describes a way of approaching our thoughts and feelings so that we become more aware of them and react differently to them”.
For me, I really struggle with mindfulness and living in the present. When I look to the future, I have mixed reactions, I have some positive thoughts, but I soon hit the anxious thoughts about how long it will take me to get well, and how will I earn money again. It feels like a huge mountain to climb, and most of the time it is too daunting to even contemplate.
I then generally look back at the past, and ask myself why has this happened to me? What did I do wrong? If only I had done things different. I also fall into the negative way of thinking that things will always be this way, and will never go right.
We all have these thoughts, but when you have severe anxiety and depression these thoughts and feelings are magnified by hundreds of times.
“You create a good future by creating a good present.”
It does not mean that you ignore your past and future, you still need some sort of direction in life, and need to plan for the future. The past can also be used in a positive way; after all it is the past events that have given us life experiences which we can learn from.
I used to wish that my life had been different, but then I stopped….. Change even the smallest thing in the past and my life would have been very different, I may not have met my lifelong friends, and I would then not have met my soul mate who in turn opened my eyes to a whole new way of being.
When I think of the present I feel I am a burden, I have no idea where I fit into the world, and this makes me lose hope.
Now don’t think that all is dark and grey, there are good moments which make me feel that things will be OK. I have an amazing wife, Kim, a lovely (if sometimes naughty and bad tempered) Westie, Leo; I have a lovely home which is filled with everything I love. I have some great friends and family, I have all of my limbs and a working brain (which needs a bit of TLC), I am really enjoying learning about my condition, and writing this blog.
Everyone says to take it ‘One Step at a Time’, and I think this is the best advice. The second best advice is to ‘Love Yourself’; I have so much anger and self loathing about myself that you would not believe, and this can stop you living in the now.
Every day I wake up and try to stay positive, and focus on the present however this depends on how the day progresses. It does not mean that I am just going to stay in limbo; I know I need to grow and continue to develop. My challenge is that I have so much in my life to change that I sometimes don’t even know where to begin.
“The past has no power over the present moment.”
My first recommendation for you to try and live in the now is to ditch the smart phones for a short period of time every day, they are wonderful things but are a huge distraction.
Go for a walk, and take the time to really look at what is around you (this goes back to my blog on ‘Finding a Space to Breathe’). When you are chatting to a friend put your phones away so you can be in that moment (remember about the power of listening?). Slow the pace down, and really notice your thoughts and how your body feels.
Give it a go and see what happens.
Thank you, thank you, thank you