There is no such thing as despair. —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
There is no such thing as despair? Sounds like a koan, but it’s not. Rebbe Nachman was saying (in part) that despair is manufactured by the negative inclinations of those who believe they have no choice but to give up on themselves, or the world.
They feel so down on themselves, so down on the world, that they are convinced that hope is the illusion, despair the reality.
We are not the sum of our mistakes, though sometimes it feels that way. It is very easy for us to give into negative feelings about our actions in the face of challenges or suffering; about our feelings; and about how we see (or don’t see) our future.
Negativity feeds itself, and despair is negativity squared.
For many of us, thoughts and feelings feed each other until we can no longer tell which leads to another. Also, the lines between self and feelings and thoughts becomes blurred. Are we our thoughts and feelings or is there a deeper self? Who is the self that observes the thinker and the feeler?
We’d say, the soul.
To combat despair, believe that you can heal what you’ve harmed, or heal what has been harmed by other people or situations. Healing begins with your belief and continues with your thoughts.
One of the things that [correction: Prayerful Meditation and] therapy can do is help you examine and refine beliefs that do not serve you – the you that is able to look forward and grow.