IV. This Need Not Be, P 3, 4
3 When you are sad, know this need not be. Depression comes from a sense of being deprived of something you want and do not have. Remember that you are deprived of nothing except by your own decisions, and then decide otherwise.
I used to be depressed pretty much all the time, but A Course in Miracles changed that for me. The more I practiced the Course the less I experienced depression until one day I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I was depressed. Once in a while, I will suddenly feel sad or mentally tired, but when I do I realize that I have made a choice for sadness and I ask for help.
Here is what I discovered about sadness. I don’t get rid of it by trying to not think sad thoughts. I get rid of it by realizing that I am deliberately choosing to think sad thoughts and then asking the Holy Spirit to heal my mind of the belief that those thoughts could be true. The result is often immediate, and if it is not I know that I still find some value in my belief and I ask for clarity.
In every case, I see that I feel deprived. I think I need something I don’t have. For instance, maybe I feel lonely and think I need someone to be with me. I am one with all there is. How could I feel alone? Alone is a word, a state of being, a feeling that I made up. It is not possible for me to be alone. To feel alone requires that I suspend reality. Loneliness is not something that just happens to me, it requires my active participation. In order to feel lonely, I must decide to feel lonely and then I must be vigilant against the truth in order to have that experience.
All that is required to stop feeling lonely is to no longer want that feeling. Having made that choice a number of times I am very familiar with the process and something I noticed is that the more I do it the more aware I am of any resistance to letting it go. I have seen my mind argue for the loneliness. Now that I have seen my resistance I understand that I did, after all, make the choice for sadness. Once seen, it is easier to choose differently.
4 When you are anxious, realize that anxiety comes from the capriciousness of the ego, and know this need not be. You can be as vigilant against the ego’s dictates as for them.
Anxiety is a choice I still make, and more often than I do for sadness. But like sadness, anxiety requires my full cooperation. First I have to leave the present. Anxiety occurs when mentally I am in the past or in the future. If I am thinking about the past I go over my old stories and try to rewrite them. It is like the past wasn’t bad enough the first time and I have to go back and relive it. It’s like self-torture. This could only happen because I want it to.
When I dwell mentally in the future I imagine possible stories that I could write. It seems they all lead to anxiety, even when they start off as pleasant stories. For instance, I used to fantasize about a future in which I win the lottery, and I would imagine what I would do with all that money. Inevitably I would run into trouble in my stories. I would become anxious about how I would divide it up and what if I squandered it or what if my wealth changed my relationships with my family. There was often an uncomfortable element to those fantasies.
I have a workshop to present in Arkansas later this month. Sometimes when I think about the workshop I feel anxious. What if I don’t do a good job? What if something goes wrong? The ego mind starts thinking of ways to prevent disaster. I should stop what I am doing and make plans, prepare talks, whatever I can think of to fix this problem. In actuality, there is no problem, but if I stay with the ego thinking, I will believe in the problem and will be very uncomfortable no matter what I decide to do.
The ego mind is always going to create stories that bring us discomfort because its stories are always about separation so they are based on fear and fueled by guilt. But they are all just stories. Nothing is happening. Yet the ego cannot let the mind be still because it is afraid that in the stillness we will discover the truth about the ego and make that final choice for reality. So it keeps the stories coming. When I notice that I am feeling anxiety, I do the same thing I have done for sadness. I realize that I am choosing anxiety and make another choice. I ask the Holy Spirit to heal my mind of the beliefs that are driving the anxiety.