Lessons I’ve Learned From Depression

Sometimes I feel more like the Fake Death Disconnection Wannabe-Coach than the Real Life Connection Coach.

Sometimes I want to curl up into a ball, fall asleep and never wake up. Sometimes I’ll spend days or even weeks at a time dipping in and out of self-destructive and suicidal thoughts, hopelessness, and purposelessness.

Depression takes me down, down, down, so deep into an abyss. When I’m in it, it feels like nothing really matters. It can be sunshiny and beautiful outside, but all I see is gray.

So I’d like to share a few lessons I’ve learned and tools that have personally helped me through it.

#1: Asking the question: What really matters to me?

This question brings me back to my heart. What do I CARE about? Sometimes it seems like there is breathtakingly little I still care about, but I search and search because I know that if I’m still alive then there must be SOMETHING keeping me here.

This is super, super important, because it gets me in touch with my heart. What we care about lives in our hearts. The words care and core are practically the same word. The latin root word cor means heart (as in the word courage), and although it might not be scientifically etymologically correct, for me these words are close enough to make a connection.

I get depressed when I’m out of touch with what I care about (what’s in my HEART)–when I’m not prioritizing what I care about. For better or worse, when I’m not acting on what is most important to me, I feel sad, depressed, angry, and overall just “down.”

For the past few weeks I have not been prioritizing going out to meetups and networking and meeting people to talk to about my coaching business! My coaching business and, more deeply, helping people feel more ALIVE, energized and WHOLE is one of my deepest passions right now, and, thankfully, my heart won’t let me quit on this.

This leads me to the second thing that’s helped me out a LOT:

#2: Allowing myself to feel depressed/down/angry/sad and sharing it with close, trusted friends, life coaches and healers.

It feels a little risky to me posting this blog and video because I’m admitting I sometimes feel deeply, hopelessly depressed. What if some government organization uses this as evidence that they need to forcibly medicate me (against my will) and inject chemicals into me that numb my mind and spirit?!? That’s a genuine fear for me, probably the biggest one. I’m also afraid I’ll be misunderstood, or that people will run away from me, or that I’ll be shunned and isolated because I have problems.

Here’s the deal with that though. Depression, sadness, being “down” is NOT a problem, it’s a GIFT.

I imagine someone reading this might be thinking “How can depression possibly be a fucking gift, man? I mean, COME ON!!!”

See, if I never got depressed and sad and down, then I would be fine doing the things I’ve always done, not ever getting closer to growing my life coaching business. I would be ok to let my health and friendships and finances decay, because after all, if I’m feeling AWESOME ABOUT EVERYTHING ALL THE TIME, why would I want anything different?!?

What’s important to understand is that the “down” emotions are your friends.

They don’t feel like our friends when we’re emotionally unskillful, but they ARE our friends.

Working with our emotions is a SKILL. It’s a skill I’ve gotten better and better at, by practicing and practicing and practicing, and being patient and meditating…

The basic skill is to BE WITH our emotions.

We often spend MASSIVE energy avoiding, fighting, minimizing or rationalizing our emotions, instead of just being with them.

When we become more skillful at this, we can often allow our emotions to move through us much more quickly.

Now, “quickly” is relative, because sometimes it feels like FOREVER when we’re in the thick of it.

For me, what helps me “let it go” (which translated into more practical terms is: allow it to move) is spending time feeling it, and, especially, feeling it and becoming intimate with that emotion in the presence of someone I love who loves me/cares about me, and who is skillful enough to simply listen to me and ask curious, compassionate, patient questions until I can “go over the edge” and feel the depth, the pain, the tormented part of myself I’d been freezing in my body.

That’s what we’re habituated to, by the way. We’re habituated to FREEZING the emotions in our system, generally speaking. And that’s what creates more fear and more pain, is this contracting, this wall, this blockade we create, often automatically, because we don’t feel safe to actually feel the depth of what we’re feeling.

When we fight with reality, it takes a massive amount of energy, and in the end, reality still wins.

Here’s another helpful principle: The emotion is NOT telling the whole story. It’s telling part of the story.

In the moment, the emotion can often feel so fucking painful that it feels like it IS everything, that the emotion is the only thing that has ever or will ever exist.

The emotion can feel like it will suffocate us, drown us, kill us and leave our body to hang out to die.

That’s why we run. We’re not ready to die.

But what is amazing, and so fucking rewarding is that we don’t die. In fact, a little part of our ego dies (our ego being who we think we are vs who we actually are), and we get to discover a greater depth and width and height of Being we never previously knew.

And we learn how to have these “little deaths” over and over again.

We get better at dying these little deaths, which ironically, counter-intuitively, and with so much pleasurable surprise allows us to be MORE FULLY ALIVE THAN WE EVER IMAGINED POSSIBLE.

Being fully ALIVE is just a little bit more nuanced than it might appear to be on the surface because being fully ALIVE means feeling the UP and the DOWN. We don’t get one without the other.

LIFE includes DEATH, and when we celebrate ALL THAT IS, we discover reality and we begin to align with the Infinite Soul.

Being fully ALIVE is worth dying for.

And I’m here to listen if you’d like to talk.

I believe that the world is dying to be ALIVE, and being ALIVE starts by discovering the great mystery of who we really are and what we really care about.

I’d love to be a part of your discovery, so drop me a line if you’re open to chat about your life, to get fucking REAL, drop the bullshit, and experience MORE.

Let’s be more fully ALIVE!

Love,

Aaron

Love, Truth & Justice

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Is light right and darkness wrong? Is space the enemy of matter?

Of course not. They work together, supporting each other in balance. The “masculine” and “feminine” aspects of nature work together to comprise creation.

It is beautiful, it is terrifying, and maybe it is all fucking perfect.

And until we are able to see the usefulness of both aspects of light and dark for the perfection of existence, we will be severely limiting and even crippling ourselves.

Right now in our society, we are taught that certain emotions are better than others. However, we are not usually taught the importance and usefulness of ALL of our emotions.

In the book The Emotional Life of Your Brain, Dr Davidson and Sharon Begley write of the unique aspects of the left and right hemispheres of our brains as they correspond to our emotions. It turns out, according to their 30+ years of study and searching, that the “positive” emotions are associated with the left hemisphere of the brain, and the “negative” emotions are associated with the right hemisphere. The right hemisphere is associated with more feminine qualities (intuition, creative expression, qualitative perception, vision, etc), and the left hemisphere the more masculine qualities (logic, direction, quantitative perception, factual knowledge, etc).

I might not need to mention this, but positive emotions are generally joy, happiness, bliss, inspiration, hope, pride, etc. While negative emotions are generally fear, anger, shame, sadness, grief, etc.

Here’s the thing which is so misunderstood in our society. “Positive” and “negative” are simply names of poles of magnetism. You know how magnets work, right? There’s a positively charged end and a negatively charged end.  Well, we humans are magnetic, too. And if we are only allowing ourselves to operate at one of these poles of magnetism, then we are not balanced!

The popular advice is to “be positive.” I now believe that’s terrible advice. It’s not balanced, and it’s not whole. How about we be balanced? How about we recognize the importance of being whole people who have both a negative and positive capacity?

Let’s take anger as an example of a negative emotion to demonstrate this:

We need anger to help us protect what is important to us. Anger is the emotion connected to our boundaries. When a boundary of mine is “pushed up against,” I’m going to have a sense of protectiveness, an energetic fuel of sorts, which propels me to protect that which I love.

Do I prefer to feel anger? No, not all the time, because it’s situationally appropriate. But sometimes in life, we must protect that which we love, and in situations that call for it, it’s important for us to be connected to our capacity for anger so that we can do just that.

Here’s a big surprise: we are all a part of nature. We are made out of earth, water, air and fire (sunshine). And we need all of these elements to be whole. And Nature is masculine AND feminine. If it’s too much of either, it’s not balanced.

If there hair on the back of my neck stands up when someone walks into the room, I’m grateful for my sense of fear, so that I can be alert to possible or imminent danger and deal with the situation accordingly.

When I lose something or someone that I love, I feel sadness. It’s a healthy response!!!

So let’s realize that we are all part of this infinite universe of light and dark, of negative and positive, of masculine and feminine, and that one is not better than the other, but that these poles of polarity support each other in the birth and death and existence of creation.

Did you know that Life needs Death? Is one better than the other? No! They need each other in order to BE, in order to exist in a healthy state. In his book The Book of Secrets, Deepak Chopra, MD writes about cancer. Did you know that cancerous cells are cells that have mutated in order to avoid their natural programming to die? Healthy cells are programmed to die in order to make way for new cells. So yes, cancer cells are cells which are refusing to die as naturally programmed!

Birth and Death are both required for this whole thing we often call LIFE to exist.

And it’s ok. It’s all ok. In fact, maybe it’s all fucking awesome.

I have this theory about Love, which I first heard described in an interview on Sounds True: Insights at the Edge podcast and Claude Poncelet who recently published the book The Shaman Within.

He said that he took a spiritual journey to the black hole at the center of our galaxy. And when he got there, the love he felt was so immense and intense and beautiful that he almost couldn’t bring himself to leave. And that’s when he realized that Love is the Truth. And that there is no difference between love and the truth, but that they are actually the same thing.

Could he be completely bonkers off his ronkers? Of course. And maybe he is! But listening to him speak, I believed what he said because I felt the sincerity and the depth of what he was saying. And now I, too, have faith that love is the truth. I haven’t traveled to a black hole (yet), but I can consider it a possibility. Why not?

I choose to believe that this whole thing we’re living in is made out of Love. That’s my theory and my faith: that somehow it’s all love. It doesn’t always make sense, especially when things “go wrong.” Like, when people are being hurt and killed and are starving or persecuted around the world… it doesn’t make sense when good people die early, or when good people suffer for seemingly no reason or for the shortsightedness and malice of others.

But then again, maybe it does. Maybe everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

And maybe Love really is the Truth.

And somehow in this Truth, we continue our quest for Justice. For what is right and wrong, for what we stand for and for what we stand up against in this world.

Let us have the courage to live with our questions for as long as it takes, to never stop exploring for more and better answers, and to honor the infinity of which we are all an important part.

Love,

Aaron