Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Power of Now

While in group with a distressed client yesterday I realized again how most of our anxiety is self generated.

During much of the session the client revisited incidents from the past. Her mother was angry at her for things she had done while she was using. One of her siblings was upset over something to do with a car the parents purchased for one of them. She was ruminating over a whole list of things, some going back four or five years. And she didn't know what she was going to do about them when she left the program.

Her primary therapist wisely asked her why she was spending so much time dredging up things from the past. After all, what could she possibly do about what had happened yesterday?

This is a common failing among addicts – and even among non-addicts. We spend precious time going over and over things that we can do nothing about. And usually, there's a lot of emotion coupled with them. Things like anger, sadness, or grief. And we treat these emotions as if they were something tangible, rather than just a tortured memory.

The same thing happens when we generate anxiety about the future. In essence, we're rehearsing for a play that hasn't happened yet. And we experience fear and trepidation about a future that hasn't occurred.

So what's the solution?  The obvious answer, of course, is that we learn to live in the present moment. And no matter how much we might deny it, this moment is the only place we can be where we have power over our lives.

An excellent book by Eckhart Tolle, "The Power of Now," is a resource for those who would like to live in the moment.