I’m going to start a short series on living in the present moment and the things I’ve learned from doing so. I know we all think that we live in the present but for most of us, we don’t do that at all. Living in the present is not really an automatic thing for us that live in the first world of busy, bustling lives. Living in the present actually takes practice and needs to be done consciously. When I first heard about present living as I like to call it, I was in my therapist office, we were discussing my tendency to worry a lot and the panic and anxiety I sometimes experience when I do that. He said something I’d never heard before, he told me many of us spend the majority of our lives ruminating over the past or obsessing about the future. We always miss the present. We miss the beauty of the present, the sadness of the present, the joy of the present, we just miss it. We miss our lives.
After that session I went home to think about how many times I had really enjoyed the present moments in my life. I was astounded to find my being ‘in the moment’ at important times in my life was practically non-existent, that saddened me. Because I knew I had been a part of some wonderful times and even sad ones but was I really there? Did I really experience that present moment?
Present moments can be full of joy or sadness but even if they are sad you get to experience the feeling and overcome it. Instead of experiencing sadness what most of us are told to do is just get over it, which is just code for repress your pain. But you can’t and shouldn’t repress pain because it always comes out in more destructive patterns. If we actually lived presently and experienced pain and suffering, let those feelings flow in us we’d probably all not be using the other emotional drugs we use on a daily basis because we repressed our suffering. I’m telling black women this specifically stop repressing your pain, your fear, your disappointment, your suffering. It sounds counter-intuitive I think we feel that if we let those feelings flow we’ll just end up depressed. But the opposite is true, because you don’t let those feelings flow you end up depressed anyway. The first time I let myself experience some repressed pain, it was the most cathartic thing I’d ever done. And after I did it, I was able to let the pain really and truly go. I experienced a feeling of release, even some joy. It was amazing, I’ve been doing it ever since. When we repress our pain, our suffering comes out in other destructive ways, we can’t really make suffering go away by ignoring it that doesn’t work. Although you think you’ve escaped it if you aren’t experiencing it in the present as you should be I guarantee your pain is running you in areas of your life. You have to quell that pain and suffering and what better way to do it than with emotional drugs. What are emotional drugs? They are the destructive patterns we use to not experience our pain. They are anger, jealousy, control, co-dependency, narcissism, people-pleasing, judgment, bitterness, self-pity, panic, anxiety, being hyper-competitive and/or being hyper critical of ourselves and others. Oh yes, you may not be covering pain with regular drugs like alcohol and cocaine but you most certainly are self-medicating with emotional drugs. Start to think about what you may be doing to quell your repressed suffering. I’ll be back later to show how you can kick your emotional drug habit.
Next part in my series will be about presently feeling joy.