“Source of all Sustenance, sustain me. Nowadays, even living simply…demands too much.”
-Rabbi Nachmann of Breslov
“With time and distance self-mastery is more easily achieved.”
I usually begin my daily journal writing by reading a quote or passage from a philosophical book or sometimes even a poem. This morning I read the 19th century Hassidic Rabbi Nachmann of Breslov and the Roman Stoic Epictetus. What–you may ask–do these two quotes, separated by centuries, possibly have in common?
Together, they present a balanced approach to handling challenging times. Breslov’s quote encourages us to validate our feelings. Sometimes we get up in the morning, and life is just hard–maybe it’s because we are going through a Pandemic, or because we have chronic pain, or maybe we don’t even know why but we feel blue. And Rabbi Nachmann reminds us that it’s ok to have bad days, that it is normal. And maybe the subtext is–be easier on yourself and maybe less judgmental. And Epictetus reminds us not to overreact, to give ourselves time to process–not to deny our feelings, but also not to react to them. When we give ourselves time to process, we can look within and ask ourselves if we are reacting to a present-moment issue, or whether childhood trauma has been triggered, or whether we are hungry or tired. There is space for all of it, but we will save ourselves (and others!) a lot of heartache if we give ourselves a bit of time to gain perspective. So make sure to give yourself permission to have bad moments or bad days. Find people who will listen if you need to talk or time alone if you need to process alone. And give yourself time before responding. Maybe even seek the wisdom of loved ones. Your perspectives and feelings and thoughts are always valid, but they aren’t always the best vehicles for determining our actions. So, take it easy, love yourself, and give yourself time to gain perspective.