How do we live in the Now?

I’ve got quite a collection of self-help books. Some of them encourage me to “live in the now.” But what does that mean? How are we supposed to live in the now? Here’s my answer…

You’re already familiar with what it feels like when you’re not living in the now. You feel negative, resentful. You feel like acting out!

Here are a few ways we fail to live in the now…

  1. Living with past regrets
  2. Living with past resentments
  3. Putting things off (procrastinating)
  4. Acting out (using)

If your over-all attitude to life is “No!” you’re not living in the now. You can’t – and won’t – accept what is. But when you live in the now, you deliberately say “Yes” to life – to your life.

You can live in the now by…

  1. Letting go of the past
  2. Giving thanks
  3. Expressing gratitude
  4. Accepting what is

In order to live in the now, you must live mindfully. This means you no longer think, say or do things on auto pilot. You do things deliberately… like giving thanks and expressing gratitude. And when you do that, you naturally let go of the past.

As we learn to accept what is, we open ourselves up to an awareness that is holy and peaceful. We simply live one day at a time. Living “mindfully” can be described as “the practice of observing everything that’s going on – as it happens – and letting it be okay.”

Living mindfully is the best way I know to live in the now.

“Fish swim, birds fly… man prays”

It is only natural that fish live in water. They are not meant to live on dry land. It is only natural for birds to fly. They are not meant to live in a cage.

It is only natural that a little acorn grows into a great oak tree. It cannot do otherwise.

In fact, there is a certain order to everything in creation. For all things have a design, and a purpose for their existence. Without this order, creation would break down… and all would be chaos.

Man is a spiritual being. It is only natural that he should pray. For it is his nature to connect with his spiritual source. This need for a connection with God has been described as a “God-shaped hole”… a void put there by God so man would search for his purpose, and his Creator.

Unfortunately, many of us are spiritually bankrupt. We sought after a substitute to fill the God-shaped hole inside us. We became addicts, seeking only what we want – selfishly living our lives for ourselves and by ourselves.

We chose a substitute for God because we really didn’t know there was an alternative. We felt incomplete – like something was missing – and found “the thing” that made us feel better… more complete.

But when the thing we wanted became an obsession, it eventually grew into a full-blown addiction. And we were left feeling incomplete.

And our lives eventually turned into chaos. Completely out of order. That’s when someone told us that we needed to let go of the thing – the substitute – and follow after God. It was scary… like stepping off a cliff into oblivion…

But we took it.

And as we continue to pray, the chaos in our lives subsides. We are restored to sanity.

We’re learning that God is there. Really there. God is giving us what none of the substitutes could ever give…

Yes, we’re learning to connect with God. It’s only natural.

 

Are you aware of your false beliefs?

Carl Jung once said: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”

There are reasons why we act out. Addiction is a symptom of a spiritual problem – an illness that goes much deeper. Until we are able to unpack some of this “baggage,” we will continue to carry it where ever we go. But what do we need to unpack?

There are ‘hidden’ beliefs just below the surface, beneath the level of your awareness. But just because you are unaware of them, doesn’t mean they don’t influence how you think and feel. In fact, you have beliefs that have directed your life since you were a small child.

What are some of your hidden beliefs? Here are a few of my own:

· “I am unworthy”
· “I am not good enough”
· “The world is not a friendly place”
· “God is too busy to care about me”

Now, I didn’t walk around thinking to myself, “I am worthless.” It never occurred to me that I wasn’t good enough.  But it was my actions that betrayed my beliefs. I used to imagine what I wanted to do with my life, but I wouldn’t make the effort necessary to get where I wanted to go. It was my actions that betrayed my belief: “I don’t deserve the things I desire.”

When I learned to pay attention to how I felt in my body – emotionally – I gained some insight into why I was acting out. I was learning how to increase my level of self awareness.

This is something anyone can learn.

When we become aware of what is going on below the surface, we gain a better understanding as to why we do the things we do. As we are able to uncover our hidden beliefs, it gets easier to identify the ones that are false… the beliefs that stand in our way.

“Mindfulness” is a way that helps us to improve our self awareness. Recovery is nurtured and greatly improved when we live “mindfully.”

The sooner you can identify the false beliefs that lay hidden below the surface of your awareness, the sooner you will learn how to stop resisting and accept what is. The struggle ends when your resistance ends.

Uncover what is hidden – identify your false beliefs – and begin to move forward.

“Wisdom rises upon the ruins of folly” Thomas Fuller

I make mistakes every day. Bad decisions. Wrong choices.  Even when I know better! My emotions get the better of me, and I end up in a place where I had no intention of going. I am not perfect – far from it – even though I try hard to better myself.

It’s human to err.  And I can accept that. But I will not resign myself to foolish behavior when I know better. I can learn from my mistakes. It’s not a complete disaster if I keep repeating the same errors in judgment. Sometimes I learn quickly, sometimes slowly.

I used to beat myself up when I screwed up. Mistakes were intolerable, and having my shortcomings revealed to others devastating. Shame consumed me, driving me to repeat the same sins over and over – which caused me to further despise myself.

Shame became a cycle where I spiraled down into self loathing, and finally turned to addiction in order to cope with the pain. The pain of self loathing would trigger the tremendous need to act out. But continually engaging in my addiction would spawn more shame and self loathing ending in more acting out… on and on.

In recovery I have learned to gain wisdom from my mistakes. There is always something to gain, even from my shortcomings. There is no need for self loathing; I know that I am worthwhile even when I go astray. I can always come back to the program and begin again.

Over the years my self image has improved, and as a result, my shame has diminished. I feel guilty about some things I’ve done, and rightly so. But I don’t need to beat myself up any more. I can learn and gain wisdom from my foolish mistakes. It is the blunder that causes me the greatest guilt and remorse that I can learn from the most.

We have to live our own lives, profit from our blunders, and learn from our experience. Nobody can do these things for us. The greatest wisdom comes from life’s hardest lessons; therefore, it is by the grace of God that I am able to learn wisdom.

“Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it” (Step 10)

“The price of dishonesty is self-destruction”

I was a two-faced liar. When I entered into recovery, I soon became aware of how often I lied. Dishonesty was almost second nature. In order to keep the addiction alive I had to remain undetected. I had to fly below the radar.

Lying took on many forms. Sometimes it meant racing home at dangerous speeds so I wouldn’t be late. Other times I had to make up a story about why I had to work late. I would stay up half the night and not be able to say why. And, of course, hiding the evidence was almost a daily occurrence. You couldn’t smell my ‘drug’ so it was easier to hide than alcohol.

An older member of our fellowship would often encourage us with these words: “Tell the truth, and tell it quickly.” If we were going to get better, we were going to have to be honest about everything. No holding back, no planning, and no acting out.

I had a tendency to remain isolated; even when I was home I was off doing something on my own. I remember not wanting to be with my family for long periods of time, and I could always find an excuse for wandering off by myself.

The addiction came first, so I did what I had to do to keep it alive. My addiction became a priority because I needed to ‘use’ everyday. The need to “act out” with my drug over shadowed every decision. And my lying was taking its toll…

I found myself lying about all kinds of things. I would tell a lie when I really didn’t need to, even when I had nothing to hide. As my need to ‘use’ increased I became more irritable, growing more and more distant. It was destroying my relationship with my family and affecting my performance at work.

Truth-telling began the day I willingly went to a 12-Step meeting, admitting that I was powerless over my addiction. Each subsequent step required that I look at the truth more closely: the truth about myself, the truth about God, and the truth about my recovery.

Today I can truthfully say that I am powerless, and that my Higher Power is able to give me the strength to remain sober for one more day.

“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”