The Power of the Present Moment
There’s power in the present moment. In fact, that’s where all the power is. But folks in relationships with disturbed characters have a hard time remembering this. For various understandable reasons, abuse victims tend to stay in the past or future. And this is inherently disempowering.
Trauma always leaves a deep impression on the brain. So it’s natural for abuse victims to have a hard time letting go of the past. Past wounds may haunt them. And many times, the consequences of their abuser’s behavior still visit them. It’s hard to shake off the past. And it can take hold of a person. But it can virtually enslave and paralyze a person, too. It can keep you from moving on. And it can keep you from staying in the present moment. That’s unfortunate, because the present moment is where all the power is.
Folks in relationships with disturbed characters worry about the future a lot, too. They wonder what their abusive partner will do next. And they fretfully anticipate what consequences might ensue. This is both natural and understandable. But it’s also disempowering.
Abusive relationship victims become adversely conditioned. They’re conditioned to ruminate about both the past and the future. That conditioning causes them to lose sight of where real power lies. It lies in the present moment. And it lies in the choice you have to take action in the here and now.
Moving On After a Toxic Relationship
Folks who finally wrested themselves from a toxic relationship often find moving on difficult. They can be haunted by the past. And even when they’ve done their best to forget, they can be plagued with new, painful reminders. Disturbed characters create lots of messes and do lots of damage. Parting company with all of this takes time. And sometimes the consequences of their actions don’t surface for a while. So, just when you think you can safely move on, another painful reminder appears. This makes parting with the past and staying in the present difficult.
Sometimes, victims unwittingly trap themselves in the past. They brood about what they didn’t see earlier. And they ruminate about all the years lost. They grieve over all they gave and all it cost them. This is just part of what I describe in In Sheep’s Clothing as the “slot machine syndrome.” But wallowing in grief over all you’ve lost is an energy drain. And keeps a person from moving on.
It’s natural for former victims to worry about what to do next. It’s normal to fret over how one will care for themselves, where the money will come from, etc. But thinking too far ahead can also be disempowering. The real power is in taking things one day at a time, one step at a time. Making choices in the here and now. Letting those choices instruct. In time, this breeds hope. And it only further empowers.
In all four of my books, I discuss two key behavioral “formulas:” the formula for depression, and the formula for joy. The behavioral formula for depression is focusing attention on and investing one’s energy in people, places, and things you can’t possibly control. (See: Is There a Behavioral Formula for Depression?). The formula for joy involves the opposite. You focus all your attention and energy where you have power: your choice and action in the present moment. You won’t always get the results you anticipate or hope for. But whatever result you do get has the power to make you wiser. That helps guide your next steps. And in taking consistent action, you’ll find joy restored to your life.
I’ll have more to say on behavioral “formulas” for depression and joy next time.