Staying In The Present Moment
Staying In The Present Moment
Staying in the present moment can be difficult sometimes. What I mean by that is, I’m not living in the present. I’m either thinking about future events, projecting what I think will happen, or living in the past, and worrying about something I cannot change.
When I live in the past, or the future, I become fearful, doubtful, or angry. I am also taking power away from my Higher Power. I am trying to control my life, and what I think should happen. When I start trying to control my life, I use the tools pause, ask, discuss, and turn to bring myself back to the present.
When I am frustrated, fearful, or doubtful, I pause. I stop and take a breath. Come back to where my feet are. Am I thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet? Am I thinking about something from my past that I cannot change?
By practicing pause I halt the runaway train in my brain. The constant thoughts of turmoil that are racing and bouncing in my head. It’s a way for me to get a handle on the situation, and bring myself to the present.
Pausing is also helpful because it stops me from flying off the handle. I can have a short temper at times. And sometimes, I speak before thinking about what I’m going to say. I don’t think about how it will affect the other person, or how it will affect me. When I pause, I give myself a chance to think about the situation, and come at it from a different angle.
Next, I ask. I say a prayer, asking my Higher Power for help. Just a simple “show me which way to go” prayer is all it takes. When I ask my Higher Power for direction, I am admitting that I am trying to control the outcome/ situation, and I can’t do this on my own. With my finite human mind, I need all the help I can get.
Today I try to live my life the way my Higher Power wants me to live it. Is that an easy feat? No. I’m human and I have free will. But, I find that my life goes a lot smoother when I reach out for help. When I don’t try to handle things all on my own, it takes the burden off my back, and shares the load.
After I pause and ask, I discuss. Sometimes.
I say sometimes because not everything is a huge, life-altering drama. Most of the time I’ve just gotten a little off track. Something bugs me for a minute, but after I pause and say a prayer, I’m okay. In these moments, the little quake in my day is over. I realize that I am being a self-centered, controlling, petty person, and I correct my mistake.
But, what about the times when something happens during the day that I can’t let go of? What then?
A perfect example happened the other day. I was working by myself, and I started thinking about sharing my story the following day at my meeting. I was worried about the snow, worried that people wouldn’t be able to make it, and worried I wouldn’t be able to make it. I was fearful that I would forget everything I wanted to say. And, I was fearful about telling people about my life because I had hidden a large part of myself for so long.
When I realized I was living in fear, I paused, said a prayer, but the fear would not go away. Instead of trying to push my fear aside, I decided to talk to my co-worker. She knows I am in recovery, and she is one of my go-to people when I need to talk to someone at work. I told her that I was speaking the next day, that I was fearful about no one showing up, and fearful that I would forget everything.
In times of turmoil, I find discuss to be of utmost importance. When I pause, and ask, but the fear doesn’t go away, it means that thought is living in my mind. When things are living in my mind, my thoughts become poison.
So, I discuss. Most of the time I discuss things going on in my life with my mentor. Other times I discuss things with a close friend.
But the point is, I get it out of my head. I’ve learned that when something is eating my lunch, I need to talk it out. It’s important to discuss my fears and doubts because it gets the poison out of my brain. Then, I can come at the situation from a more rational point of view. Or, the person I am talking with has a better angle that I hadn’t thought of.
After I have paused, asked, and discussed, I turn. When I become fearful, doubtful, or frustrated, I am thinking about myself. My needs. How am I feeling right now? And for me, that’s a bad way to think. It gives me more ammunition to fuel the fire going on inside of myself.
My remedy for that is to turn. I try to turn towards someone and look for ways to help. Or, ask if there is anything I can do to help. And sometimes, it is something as simple as going back to doing my job. Returning all my attention to my work is helping my boss. By doing this I am taking the focus off my problems, and turning away from myself.
I find that being of service to someone else takes away my fears. Even for just a short while. It gives me less time to sit and think of all the horrible things that can go wrong. Less time to sit and dwell on things that are out of my control. For just a moment, I am freed from the bondage of fear, because I am helping someone else.
Today, using the tools Pause, Ask, Discuss, and Turn help me stay where my feet are. I am less prone to overwhelming thoughts of fear and doubt. I do my job more efficiently because I’m not living in my head, worrying about the past or future. I am also happier today. I handle tough situations in a more productive manner. And, I can help the people around me because I’m not thinking only of myself.
So, next time you find yourself overwhelmed with fear, doubt, or worry, take a moment to pause, ask, discuss, and turn. The results won’t be immediate, it will take practice. But, as long as you keep practicing these tools, over time you will see results.
Originally published Aug 30, 2016