Blog: Living in the Moment Even When it Sucks

Living in the moment is easy when we feel content. Living in the moment is not so easy when said moment SUCKS! I remember from my dark days of anxiety how demanding the fearful and negative thoughts can be. Those thoughts make living in the moment a true challenge. In the midst of a panic attack it’s not exactly easy to allow the experience to unfold without judgment like “Ugh, here’s the panic again, why can’t I handle this?!” or “I’m never going to get out from under this anxiety monster!” or “I’m definitely going to die, throw up, pass out or have a heart attack!”
Somewhere along the line however, I discovered that fighting the anxious moments only added to the struggle and that allowing the moment to be what it was, good, bad, or terrifying, was the key because honestly, what’s more fruitless than fighting reality? Fighting our current emotions and thoughts is like fighting a broken leg – it’s there, it’s happening and fighting doesn’t make us heal any faster, but it sure does make that time more miserable.
I think many of us make the mistake by assuming that living in the moment is supposed to feel good, carpe diem right? More realistically though, I think living in the moment means accepting it for whatever it is.  Of course there are still times I fight the current moment, we all do, and that’s ok, it’s human nature – I don’t know anyone that is 100% accepting of every moment.
My mom is sick and her life is coming to an end (f*ck cancer), and I find that fact makes it quite challenging to live in the moment with her sometimes. The funny thing is, we have become closer since she’s gotten sick, I have come to know her as more than just “mom.” I’ve come to know her as a human and we have shared some quality moments watching HGTV or The Cooking Channel and just talking about life.
However, I find myself getting distracted by the sad and negative thoughts like “She’s never going to be able to take a ride with me to The Christmas Tree Shop again.” or “She’s never going to know my children.” or “I’m going to spend most of my life without my mom.” or “What I would give to have her come into my house like a whirlwind criticizing and then doing all the chores that need doing (apparently ovens are supposed to be cleaned several times a year?! Jury is still out on this one).” When these thoughts pop up I have a tendency to either get lost in them or try to avoid them by distracting myself.
However, I’ve decided it’s okay if these sad thoughts come, they’re natural, it’s even okay if I get caught up in them and cry sometimes – this is all part of the moment. Pretty soon the thoughts and emotions will shift, as is the nature of thinking, but this insight makes it a little easier to embrace the pain that comes with some of the moments along this journey.
I believe the same is true for other negative thoughts and feelings, like the fear associated with panic and anxiety. My mom is dying; it hurts me; that is my experience. There is not much to do about it, but if I do my best to embrace the entire experience, it will be less painful, I will take positive experiences from it as well, and I will grow as a person. The same is true of panic attacks, right? They are awful, but if we stop resisting their crashing waves of fear, stop judging ourselves, and instead experience the uncomfortable moment for what it is, the panic will pass much faster and we can grow from the experience. So live in that uncomfortable moment, take it in. Carpe diem!