I learned how to worry when I was a young child living in a home where bad things were happening to me frequently that were completely out of my control. As a child, you are at the mercy of those around you who are older and supposed to be wiser. In much of the aggregate of my childhood, the wisdom part of that equation was missing for me and those around me. Our family was lost, rudderless, with very little guidance from our elders. The result was constant violence, loneliness, abuse, and I lived every day with a deep sense of fear and dread.

In that environment, you learn to protect yourself; you foresee potential trouble everywhere that might come down the road. This builds a heightened anxiety that grows the more you focus on it. In my case, this manifested in me creating conflicts that probably never would have occurred had my fear and self-protection not been so highly tuned. I was a child filled with rage, terror, pain, and loneliness with rare glimpses of happiness and peace. These quiet moments of stillness, peace, and joy that popped up in random life scenes occurred just enough to keep me from killing myself. If I were to place all of the turbulence I was experiencing at the time into one simple class or phrase, it would be that I was deeply confused! Yes, behind all of the pain was an inability to sort out what was happening. It took me decades to realize that I’d experienced all of this stuff, and that some of it was quite good and magical like everyone’s life, but the other side was confusing and painful.

As I moved from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, I changed. I learned one crucial skill in that span of life experience that allowed me to let go of the past and its scripts of protectionism and self-preservation. That skill is to live in the moment. Oh I know – it sounds trite and like such a cliché. But hear me out.

Our mind has an infinite capacity to form concepts and ideas – many of them based on past experiences. We often do not recognize and allow ourselves to experience the peace that exists in a current moment, because we are reliving our past, or projecting our ideas (and fears) into the future. 

Here is the truth and it almost seems crazy in its simplicity: the future and the past do not actually exist in reality. And I mean this literally. They are ideas, thoughts, and memories, not realities in and of themselves. Memories are re-fabricated old ideas, while the future is a projection of ideas that haven’t yet happened. Neither is actually real in the way that the present moment is real. Fears and general negative thinking often emanate from interpreting past events as “bad”, while anxiety is a projection that the future will be “bad” as well. But neither the past nor the future is happening right now. So the question to ask is, if I want to get rid of fear and anxiety, should I simply abandon the past and the future completely and focus on what I’m doing RIGHT NOW? The answer is yes! Absolutely. 

If the present moment is uncomfortable, then you can make an immediate change for the better. If you are working toward achieving a future goal, then you can follow the “breadcrumbs of progress” that exist right here, right now, and smile. Address issues happening in the present. Let go of the pain of the past – it does not exist in the present without you choosing to bring it into your mind and focusing on it. 

And so I say with absolute certainty, that if you concentrate on the peace of the present moment and a desire to make the present better and more joyful, then over time your result will be a truly peaceful and happy life. And what could be better than that?

** The best place to start your journey to freedom from your problematic habits, (i.e. “addictions”) is to enroll in our free Move Past Addiction Masterclass offered every week. Go to: Move Past Addiction Masterclass to learn more and enroll. If you can’t attend the live class, simply enroll and you can watch the replay later at your convenience. **

Mark Scheeren is the co-creator of The Freedom Model programs, co-author of The Freedom Model for Addictions: Escape the Treatment and Recovery Trap, co-host of The Addiction Solution Podcast, and Chairman of Baldwin Research Institute, Inc. He is one of the leading addiction experts in the world today. He has been researching addiction and helping people to solve their addictions for 34 years.   

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