Start where you are

We humans are rather peculiar.

Many of us think our only way forward is from somewhere in the past. Our starting point is often stuck back in a time when we were laid off from our job, dumped by a lover, slighted by a friend or somehow or other left damaged and wounded on the side of the emotional highway.

Regret keeps the clouds from clearing, resentment keeps us trapped in a cage. If only those things had never happened…

Other times, our point of departure is set anywhere but today. We tell ourselves we will finally be happy when we find the perfect partner, get the bigger house, own a fabulous new car, receive the promotion we’ve always wanted. We define our okay-ness by clinging to the idea that we are defined by possessions and external forces. We grasp futilely to an idealized future.

We resist letting go of the past and moving on in the vain hope of relitigating events that didn’t go our way.

We resist accepting that the future is unknowable because of a pathological desire to be in control.

We resist the notion that we are good enough just as we are. And while none of us is ever truly and completely okay, we are all going to be fine.

We make ourselves crazy by being everywhere but right here, right now

As Pema Chodron reminds us: “when the resistance is gone, so are the demons.”

In fact, we can work with the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. We can embrace self-compassion.

We must start where we are, not obsessing over our past mistakes, nor re-living our glory days.

We must start where we are, not fantasizing about some mythical future.

We can accept reality and move from there.

As it turns out, there is no other way that works.

2 thoughts on “Start where you are

  1. Steve, you have turned into quite the therapist, and I am glad I discovered this blog of yours. Several of your postings have been quite wonderful and today’s was especially helpful for a situation I’m in. I’m looking forward to others (no pressure!)

    Cynthia Lesky


  2. I like that you distinguish between letting go of the past and living exclusively in the present. One of my favorite epigrams is that the best time to plant an oak tree is 20 years ago… the second best time to plant one is today. Being present in the now is important but so is “moving on” and “enjoying the journey”. The future is exciting and it’s starting RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE!


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