When clients bring their problems to us, they very seldom have anything to do with today. Generally speaking, their problems involve thoughts of yesterday or anxiety about tomorrow.
They may be reflecting upon the wrongs they've done to their family. Or the terrible things their family has done to them. Maybe it's about how unfair the justice system is because they were sent to prison for drugs or drug-related behavior. Perhaps they are fretting about the way they were raised, and how that caused them to become an addict or alcoholic.
But the reality is that many of us have terrible stories about the past. We drag these stories out, like a dog digging up a bone. We chew on them for a while. Then take them back and bury them, carefully remembering where we put them so we can dig them up later. Many of us spend a lot of time musing about the past, feeling depressed or sorry about what we find there.
But it never serves us to spend time mulling over our past. While bad memories might provide us with good reasons to get drunk or high, they pretty much serve no other purpose. That's not to say that the negatives from our past were okay, or that the things that happened to us were acceptable. It's just that it serves little purpose to trade the present moment for these sometimes dark places.
Same thing when we take a fantasy journey into the future, one that's mixed with fear and anxiety. We may be worried about our job prospects. Or where we're going to live. Or what we're going to do with some aspect of our lives. But does this serve any purpose? No, not if it's also mixed with fear and anxiety. Planning for the future is one thing, something we can do in quiet moments right now. But when fear and uncertainty enter the picture, then we're wasting the precious moments of our lives today.
Living in the moment is when good things happen for us. Today we can have gratitude for our friends and loved ones. For the food on our table. For our homes and our livelihood. And if we're in recovery, for the blessings we've received since we've gotten sober. All the sweet spots in our life happen now. Not when we do archaeological excavations into our past. Nor when we fearfully explore the unknowns of our future.
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