I often teach the wisdom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. And I always say I teach what I need most to learn — as I think he might have said when it came to the subject of being happy. Many experts on Rebbe Nachman claim he lived most of his life in a struggle with depression. Thus, he knew better than most the truth of his own words: “Depression does tremendous damage.”
He also taught that our thoughts have a creative energy, something I’ve learned outside of Judaism as well. Our feelings belie our thoughts. So, if we are feeling depressed, we are thinking depressing thoughts — and creating events and issues in our lives that cause us to feel more depressed.
I saw this so clearly in my life this week. For some reason, I can’t even remember why, I became angry and depressed. Maybe it was simply that I got behind in my work. Then everything began to spiral downward. On Tuesday night as we slept, a large tree fell from our property onto the road below our house taking the power and phone lines with it. This resulted in us having no power for 26 hours. Of course, this also meant that I could only work at home for about two and a half hours the following day — the time my laptop battery functions. After that, I had to go into town to find somewhere to “plug in” and find Internet access as well. However, the whole inconvenience wasted an enormous amount of time. (I still have no phone service as I write.)
With no power, I handled a few other issues — the lack of phone service being one of them — all of which turned out to be very frustrating and difficult. This plummeted my mood farther downward
When the power finally came back on the next day, I discovered I had overwritten a document I had worked on, which caused me to have to redo about three and a half hours of work. This, of course, set me farther behind in my work…and caused me to feel more depressed.
In the meantime, my husband’s company, which is being sold, sped up the time line for the sale. This means he’ll be out of work sooner rather than later. Also, my client became unhappy with our “process.” I have clients lining up, which should be a good thing (and I am grateful for the work), but I just can’t fit them all in and the stress began giving me daily migraines.
As the week progressed, I also felt totally frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find time to get to the chiropractor or to the salon for a haircut. Not to mention that there wasn’t one week on the calendar for me to schedule the surgery I need on my knee, which has to get done before my husband is out of work. And all of this just made me more angry and depressed.
The more depressed and angry I got, the more bad things happened. I created them with my negative thoughts and energy. I knew it. I know it well. Yet, changing those thoughts and energy were–and are–not so easy. Indeed, as Rebbe Nachman probably knew, it’s a difficult downward flow out of which to pull. But pull myself out, I must. His advice: Use ever ploy you can think of to bring yourself joy.
So, today I will do that. I will now work for three hours straight so I feel I have accomplished something. Then, I will exercise. Then I will see if I can’t get to the chiropractor or get my hair cut. I will do something to make myself feel better.
And I will be conscious of my mood. Sometimes we just want to stay stuck in our bad mood, and all that does is give us more reasons to be in a bad mood. I saw that this week! How I’ve seen it work in my life before. Rebbe Nachman advised that we should act happy even if we are not. Fake it until you make it, in other words. “Avoid depression at all costs!” he says.
And so, today, I will fight that downward flow of depression…and I’ll not give up hope for a better day. I’ll remember the rebbe’s words:”Never despair! Never. It’s forbidden to give up hope.”
There’s so much to hope for…I know that. Sometimes I just forget.