Thursday, March 13, 2008

Living in the "Now"

This about living in the "NOW." As Al-Anon and other great recovery programs teach us throughout the 12 Steps is that we must live in the present - or the "Now."

This is post is directly related to several past blog posts that I believe are the foundation for understanding how to change our lives. And it is based upon something we absolutely have control over. It is about how we think.

However, and this is a big one, the however is, if you are dealing with active alcoholism and chaos, you and I may not be able to get our thinking wrapped completely around the positive and present (today, this second). Alcoholism is tough stuff and impacts us in ways only those who are in the midst of it can completely understand. It is "controlling" to a great degree our thoughts and reactions. It is a problem of 10X with children, because our children are so affected by it as well. And because they are affected, so are we.

How do I know?

Because last night at 8:20PM, I received a phone call from my daughter. I had to leave a senior management meeting of Vice Presidents and Presidents for 45 minutes to straighten out as best as I could a problem with my child and her fear of her mother's drinking. I was, noticeably absent last night. When I returned several people gave me the "look" - the look of "what is happening in your life?" that caused you to miss 45 minutes of a meeting you suggested having tonight?

Tough stuff. But a choice I had to make. Leave the room, where all the senior company team members, 15 people, are meeting to resolve a company crisis. My choice, my daughter. She is 10. She is now becoming a victim of this cunning disease.

I need to put this in the blog, so you know that I know, that this problem of alcohol is the "Black Cloud of Chaos" that hovers over every alcoholic family's home, especially when the alcohol is active and raging.

If you missed the previous posts click the one's below for what I believe is the necessary foundation to understand today's post better.

The Law of Attraction Part 1 (click here)
The Law of Attraction Part 2 (click here)
Focus on Solutions (click here)

Negative Emotions - Understanding Them
One of the most caring and loving things we need to do for ourselves is to understand the emotions of; worry, fear, doubt, anger and depression. These are sister emotions, living together in a family - the family of negative emotions. There are other related negative emotions, but these are the most powerful.

When we go into a negative state, this is caused by thinking and dwelling about - the past. And then we apply these events and emotions on the future. This causes us to worry. The past and the future, looking backward and looking forward - with a negative emotion filter over our eyes, brings a feeling of hopelessness and despair. And it can lead to mild or deep depression.

Reliving The Past and Playing the Future in Our Mind's Eye
When we are looking backward, we relive the past experiences in our mind. And each time we replay these experiences, our mind or subconscious records them in our brain as actual events actually occurring.

Now that may be too many "actual" words. But I use "actual" to drive home a point.

The point is this: The mind cannot distinguish between reality and what you are thinking about in terms of imprinting the event in the brain. This thinking about what happened is almost the same as the event occuring again in real life. And this reliving the event builds stronger wiring of the event in our brain's circuitry.

So, each time we think about the past, the thinking builds stronger wiring and it becomes a more "prevalent" thought.

And, we respond and react, and live based upon this thinking. Often, a lot of our reactions are automatic - because of these past events are strongly wired in our brains.

Live in the Present
Now, if we can just try to live in the present, the NOW, we can gain more control over our lives. Note, I said "our lives." We can create a new "cause and effect" system based upon "present thinking" or "thinking in the NOW." This is hard. You bet it is. We are a summation of our past experiences.

An Exercise for Improved Living: Detach From The Past and The Future
One way to break away from worry and fear and anger, is to regard the past and the future, in a detached manner. There is no magic to letting go or the past or worrying about what might happen. Except simply thinking about the past and the future in an unemotional manner. Detach with the past and the future. Become unemotional about them.

Meditation will help you do this. Also, try this: Physically, look down at your feet. Go ahead look. Look again. What do you see? You are here. Your feet are right here, planted on the floor. In the present.

Use this moment to gain clear understanding of this fact. Once you have this in you mind, look around the room. Notice other things, the desk, the cup you are drinking from, the lamp, the phone. All here. All here in the now. If can gain that kind of control over your mind, you are exercising great discipline over the most powerful tool in the universe. Harness the power, by focusing your mind.

Do not get caught up in what might happen. Nor get caught up in what did happen and who did this to me. Focus. Focus where you are, right now. Go back to looking at your feet. Firmly planted on the ground.

This is a simple trick, that can help you gain concentration.

PS - I learned part of this "trick" of stopping your thinking, by looking down at your feet, at an Al-Anon meeting several weeks ago. I just embellished it and added to my "set of tools."

PPS - Hard? Yes. Impossible? No


Anonymous said...

Thanks as ever, Joe, for writing and offering the world something of yourself.

Much of your blog mentions the legacy we inherit from previous generations. I am thinking about how in unlearning our own patterns, we are having to undo or throw off this legacy of negative thinking. Growing up, worry, fear, doubt, anger and depression were full-fledged members of my family. We may as well have set them a place at the dinner table.

I don't know what my point is. I guess it's the unlearning. Learning and unlearning, replacing old patterns with new. Steering the wagon out of the ruts it's been in for so long. Deciding who we want at the dinner table.

Thanks for letting me babble.

Joe said...

I really like that metaphor of the dinner table and inviting unwanted guests to take up permanent residence within our souls.


Syd said...

If I just live in the present, then I can generally make sense of things. It's when I go back to the past that I'm filled with regret, wishes, guilt and if I go to the future, then I'm filled with fear, dread and expectations. All character defects that I have asked God to remove.

Sarah said...

I'm wow-ed by this article. You do include interesting facts about the subconscious mind and how it works. Hmm, do check out, they have a whole host of interesting and helpful articles. Also,maybe you can use some tips here.

Marie said...

I am working with my therapist to let go of past events that are still hurting me and today she gave me a great suggetion I thought I would pass on to all of you. Now I am no longer with my spouse but he continues to blame me for the ruin of our marriage(he is in complete denial) Well anyway she said make a list of every single thing he has done to hurt you because of his alcoholism. Now this list will take some time to write and every time he says its my fault dont argue with him just fax him the list.And as I write this list I am to really work onletting the hurt and anger from each of these events go. As Iwrite them down I am to release my pain and move on. I think this is a great idea that I am going to work on immediately.