I was sharing with a sobriety buddy the other day about some of the darkness in my head around my wife's medical challenges. He said, “so you’ve been awfulizing,huh?” Yep. That’s exactly what I do. My mind takes a tiny fragment of reality and magnifies it until it becomes the worst possible thing that has ever happened to me. It could be almost anything: an unexpected bill in the mail, an abnormal number on a medical report, or a pain in my body that wasn’t there yesterday. Buddha called the ego “the little house builder” for it’s ability to grow a concern into a crushing fear.
Concerns are a good thing. They focus my attention and prompt me to take action - to do the next indicated thing. But I suffer when a concern morphs into worry or dread. When the same fearful ideas spin around in my head over and over, I leave reality and get stuck in illusion. Now I am cut off from spiritual guidance, I short circuit my intuition and I’m baffled by situations instead of handling them. Without my internal guidance system, I’m liable to stand up when I’d be better served by shutting up.
The only time I can have a spiritual experience is NOW. The key for me is to realize that one more time my mind has catapulted me into the future and separated me from NOW. Every single thing that can possibly go wrong will go wrong tomorrow, next week or next year. Today, right now, in this moment, I’m OK. I’m safe. Sure I have challenges, but I’m OK.
My mind slips into the future constantly. Like a puppy that won’t pee on the paper, I’ve got to keep dragging it back to the present. Fortunately I am an alcoholic and I have a program. Once I realize what’s going on, there are some things I can do to come back to the present moment. I can get out of my head and into my body with a little exercise. I can share what’s going on with another alcoholic and bring the dark thoughts out into the light. I can get to a meeting, connect with the presence in the room and put my hand out to a newcomer. Sometimes I don’t want to do any of these things. Sometimes I’d rather sit in my own crap for a while. Thanks entirely to Alcoholics Anonymous, I don’t sit and suffer for nearly as long as I used to before I get up and take some action.