Many self-help books on the shelves recently are discussing the concept of “Here And Now” to provide psychological stability in one’s life and help address past trauma. As a therapist, I believe there is very strong wisdom, reasoning and even research behind this recommendation. However, actually getting to the “Here And Now” of any situation is much harder than the self-help books would have one realize, and this is especially true for those who are going through a divorce.
Those who are either engaged in a bad relationship or are going through a divorce do not have thought patterns that are conducive to “Here And Now” functioning. We are too busy strategizing, planning, thinking, changing and responding to a very stressful situation around us. This is not to undermine our actions during these difficult times. In fact, those thoughts are fully needed and required. However, these thoughts and actions are really based on our using our minds and cognition – they do not involve all of our selves, including our emotions. We “plan” for a better future to avoid the pain of the “Here And Now”, or we ruminate on our past to ensure that what we feel “Here And Now” does not happen to us again. Ruminations like “How did I wind up like this” and over-thinking similar questions often leads to confusion, and even worse – anxiety and depression. We get so caught-up in these thoughts that we miss all of the “Here And Now” in front of us.
In order for us to access the power of the “Here And Now” in a divorce situation, it is necessary to thoroughly understand ourselves. I have counseled many individuals going through break-ups and divorce, and what I often hear is “I’ve cried for so long I just want the pain to stop.” In situations like this, it is so important for individuals to understand why they want the pain to go away. This is not to say that one needs to “cry until you’re fully finished”, but rather exploring the reasons for avoiding feelings in the “Here And Now” gives us key insights into our personality. People often have a sense of pride that is wounded, or they cannot say goodbye to a particular dream they had when married. Some are confused about why they can’t look forward to the future, because crying always brings them back to the past. When we begin to understand why we want to avoid our emotions in the “Here And Now”, we get some clues that will allow us to free ourselves from them.
Another fact is that many individuals think that being in the “Here And Now” implies that if we are angry now, that it is OK to rage, or that if we’re sad we can just cry. This is not the case. Being in the “Here And Now” means developing perspective, detachment, humility and wisdom. It means being able to observe ourselves and our emotions like you would a vase or flower. Being in the “Here And Now” means recognizing that your emotions and thoughts are just that – a small portion of yourself and your situation. The true power of being in the “Here And Now” is the ability to let everything pass before you without reacting to it. It means not denying anything, and equally reacting to nothing, except what is genuinely present. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness exercises are a fantastic way to begin to hone your skills at being present. The profound relaxation that these can produce is often indicative of being in the “Here And Now”, and knowing that we can experience such profound peace at some point in our lives means knowing that we can turn to it when the situation gets stressful as well.
Brian Baumal is a Toronto-based therapist specializing in the Gestalt Psychotherapy and is passionate about helping people through the emotional difficulties surrounding divorce. He can be reached at 416-907-6085 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. View his Divorce Magazine Profile and website.