Making gains in co-occurring disorder treatment, as with most goals, requires sustained focus, enormous perseverance, and resolute determination. These precious attributes however, are often in short supply as you emerge from addiction, and can be complicated by a mood disorder or other mental health malady. Staying focused suddenly becomes a big task.
Now! Here! This!
One patient, in her recovery, had typical difficulties with sustained attention and concentration. To increase her level of attention, she made herself narrow her focus. She reminded herself of this goal by taking the phrase “now hear this” and turning it into “Now! Here! This!”
This simple twist of grammar helped her to remember to stay in the moment. “What am I working on right now, here in this present moment – I need to focus on this.”
Diggin’ Up Bones
For someone struggling with recent addiction and mental health problems, it is easy to rehearse what you did and wished you didn’t, what you said and wished you hadn’t said in a particular way. Addicts often rehearse their last lost job, their last ruined relationship, the damage they have done to their children, the strain they feel with their parents, lost money, lost sleep, lost opportunity, and the myriad of difficulties that lie ahead. To quote the painful, poetic lyrics of a Randy Travis song:
I’m diggin’ up bones. I’m diggin’ up bones,
Exhuming things that’s better left alone.
And I’m resurrecting mem’ries of a love that’s dead and gone.
Yeah, tonight I’m sittin’ alone, diggin’ up bones.
All too often we get drawn away from the present moment, distracted by the imperfect past and the unknown future. By fretting about our mistakes we’ve made and worrying about what lies ahead, we fail to keep the present moment in proper focus. It is, of course, impossible to correct our past mistakes by constantly rehearsing them. Also, it is impossible to fully control the future by constantly worrying about what might go wrong in the hours and days ahead.
Stay in the Present
Being able to stay in the present helps you to enjoy your surroundings. It is seemingly impossible to appreciate fully the world around you or the people within it if your mind is taking trips into the frightening future or visiting graveyards of the ruined past. Remind yourself to be grateful for what you have rather than constantly reviewing what you don’t have or have recently lost. Develop the habit of writing a gratitude list, speaking it out loud when you can. Reviewing what you’re thankful for reduces bitterness and keeps you in a positive state right where you’re at. When our concentration is broken or fragmented we lose the joy and beauty of the present moment. Stay attuned to where you are right now and focus your energy toward making the most of the present moment.
Recovery is a journey. Enjoy the ride!
Overstreet, P.L., Gore, A. N., Stuckey, N.N. (1986). Diggin’ up bones. Retrieved April 2017 from https://play.google.com/music/preview/Tdiqnxepa3rx3g2eglil4hzgnvi?lyrics=1&utm_source=google&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=lyrics&pcampaignid=kp-lyrics