This post isn’t meant to disregard the paralyzing feelings of depression and anxiety that are all too real for hundreds of thousands of people. But … all we have is the present, the now. The past is gone and can never be re-created exactly as it was – that goes for what we judge good and what we judge bad. The future isn’t here, so when we are worrying about the future (ours, of others, or our planet) we basically waste the preciousness of the present by focusing on a fleeting future instead of enjoying what’s before us.
A young friend of my produces some of the most gorgeous, hauntingly vivid, and beautiful photography I’ve ever seen. Each subject he chooses to share with us is so rich with excitement, or decay, or anger, or love, or so many other emotions. I trust that in those products he shares that he absolutely had to be totally caught up in the moment to have captured what he does.
That’s a good lesson or clue for us when dealing with the depression of the past or experiencing anxiety about the future. Both are worry – it’s simplistic, but many therapists will tell you depression is worrying about the past and anxiety is worrying about the future. Again, ever so simplistic, but the truth of that sentence has stopped me and many other in our tracks when we were in the depths of despair.
I have struggled painfully with chronic depression all my life, even as a child. I manage it well today with many tools including sheer determination, daily meditation, affirmative prayer, therapy, and, when it has been necessary, medication. Most of the times people aren’t even aware of how badly I might be feeling. But if I allow myself to become bogged down in the opinions of others or what I consider to be a failure in my life it’s really not pretty.
I share this with you because I want you to understand that I’m not writing these words from a lofty place of instruction or spiritual wisdom to make your problems disappear. I don’t do pink-cloud metaphysics or tell you that an affirmation alone will make it all go away.
I know from years of experience that neither pining about the past nor worrying about the future does me any good. I can’t change either. What you and I can do is forgive ourselves for past errors or ill-fated missions and promise ourselves we will do better next time. Honestly, I have to believe that everyone is always doing the absolute best s/he can at the given moment given what they have to work with. And, I had to start with myself first.
If we are busy planning for the future and staying in love with the present, we will have far less time to be worried about a future that isn’t here. Sure, I know you have problems. So do I and so does everyone else. But as Ernest Holmes believed and taught, we don’t deny the existence of problems or issues in our lives. What we do deny is the necessity of them to continue. Our problems are a real as we need them to be. The question is, How real do we want this problem, situation, illness, hurt, anger, disappointment or anything else negative in our lives to be?
Determine to focus on that which you genuinely love. and when you slip forward or back in time, smile that you caught yourself. Do not spiral down the rabbit holes of depression or anxiety and then stay there in the muck and mud crying alone. So very many people in your life would be there in a minute to throw their arms around you, listen to you, and love you. Reach out to friends and loved ones, or to counselors or mental health professionals if warranted.
You are loved and you can do this. I know. You’ve done it before. And you can do it now.
“Learn from the past, plan for the future, but live fully in the present.” – Terry Drew Karanen