How I Claimed my Divinely Bestowed Energy to Break Years of Depression

By Kevin Ruess

In this solo episode, Kevin chats about a growing up with a default layer of depression and he used the concept of breaking agreements in order to recover his divinely bestowed energy and break free from the path of stuckness he found himself on.

Notes:

The Four Agreements, by don Miguel Ruiz

Transcription:

Those beautiful images of my future were just.

The gold was starting to wear off. And it was just looking like the, you know what, my future is not going to be very good. I don’t see this as a, how am I going to get to the future? How am I going to get to any of these things I want to do? I just feel so. Hopeless and incompetent, immensely incompetent.

Welcome to the cafe truth podcast. Join me, your host, Kevin and exploring stove philosophy, and how we can use it to create a more intentional life free from excuses. And self-pity even in the midst of challenges. I also chat with good friends and special guests on occasion to take on the mysteries of life, using the lens of stoicism and other philosophies.

Talking about everything from spirituality, entrepreneurship, digital, no matchup, and much more. We do our best to make every episode thought provoking and practical for everyday life. So stay tuned.

Hey there and welcome to the cafe truth podcast.

So just a quick announcement. That the next podcast episode after this. Is a very special one. I’m super excited about it because I had the opportunity. To interview. , the best-selling author. Gregory David Roberts. And. I am excited about this interview. , it’s one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done.

I encountered Gregory’s work back in 2012. , His book, Shantaram S H a N T a R a M. Shantaram. I believe. , If you haven’t. Read this book, please do yourself a favor. If you’re looking for something that’s just fun to read and an exciting adventure. That will take you into a whole new world , of experiences and. Kind of blow your mind., ,

It’s a. You know, in short , it’s a story about a man who escapes from a jail and Australia.

Breaks out of jail. Goes up to India back in the 1970s or eighties, I think eighties. And hides out and then has an incredible number of adventures. Eventually starting his own. Free medical clinic in one of the slums of I want to say. , Mumbai or something like that. I can’t remember off the top of my head. What major city in India was, but I want to say that was it. , but just either way, it’s just, it’s such an incredible story. , If you have read the book, you’ll know what I mean.

And I had a. Delightful. Interview with Gregory a few weeks back.

He has, Published a new book. Called the spiritual path. And we’ll be getting into that. And, , I think you’ll really enjoy it. So make sure to check that podcast episode out when it comes out in a few weeks usually i do these every two weeks, so.

I have a question for you. Have you ever felt. That you haven’t accomplished everything you want. In life that you are not achieving. Maybe the goals. Or the visions of yourself that you had of what your, your future life would be when you were younger.

And there’s a frustration with that. There’s a, there’s a, a sense that, you know, you should be doing things, you know, you should be taking action on stuff. But for whatever reason, it’s just not possible. It’s just not coming along. There’s just too much to be obstacle after obstacle.

And this is how I felt for a very long time. So I’m asking that question, because again, this is one that I. Certainly. Have related to it, many points in my life.

You know, the Stoics. Address this in so many ways.

I’m reading a quote right now. I’ll read it from Seneca. It says it’s not that we have little time. But that we waste a good deal of it. Right. And then. Another one from Marcus Aurelius, let us prepare our minds. As if we’d come to the very end of life, let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s book.

Books each day. The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.

So these stoic philosophers from the old days. Had a lot of. Pretty sound and reasonable advice about. Hey, stop wasting time. Get to work. Take action. You don’t have much.

I’m gonna say that again. And so these stoic philosophers.

Gave some pretty reasonable advice. Yeah.

Marcus was writing in his journal about it to himself often giving himself that advice. Seneca was usually writing letters to other, you know, friends and stuff like that. And. And acquaintances and colleagues.

And that advice is usually in the spirit of you don’t have much time. Life is short.

Get to work. Get off your butt. Go out there. And do something, take some action, right?

Here’s another one from. Marcus Aurelius. I believe.

I though this could be from Seneca. Putting things off and things just Seneca, putting things off is the biggest waste of time. It’s snatches away each day as it comes and denies us the present by promising the future.

He goes on to say.

What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty live immediately. Just calling to this, this action to get your get going.

Another one by Marcus. Remember how long you’ve been putting this off? That there is a limit to the time assigned to you. And if you don’t use it to free yourself, it will be gone and will never return. And so in this case, He’s really addressing, not. Some external accomplishment, but actually. The internal.

Call.

To look within. To find out who you really are to free yourself.

So I think there’s a lot of wisdom to these saying to these quotes, to these Instructions.

And the wisdom, even in this last one, I just read is this. Need to.

Really take it seriously. Take this call to free yourself seriously. And.

Yeah, easier said than done. Right.

I want to talk a little bit today , about That exact thing, how to free yourself.

Because.

A lot of times we just feel stuck.

We feel rudderless. We don’t know exactly which way we’re going. And it can be very. Depressing. Way to live.

It’s interesting because I was thinking about it a few days ago. It’s now April. 2021. And I was thinking about. 20 years ago in my life almost to the day.

I had just moved. ,

Down to, a four year. Four year college.

I had spent about. Three years before that in a junior college. And it had been this.

Kind of, I just think of it as one of the more depressing. Hopeless. Parts of my life.

Graduating from high school. Didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life to know where I was going. I had some sort of rough idea that I wanted to be. Maybe going to engineering or not, you know, not sure. And just showing up.

At this campus and.

Just immediately getting my butt kicked. I remember like failing classes or just immediately failing classes. , flunking out of stuff, failing tests. Trying to study and just couldn’t get myself to study, , trying to take math classes and just. Overwhelmed.

And what was interesting about it is like, I knew I had the ability to pass some of these tests. But for the life of me, I could not force myself. To spend time when I came home. From school. From the college and. Do the simple homework, you know, maybe it could have taken 20 minutes, but I could not do it. The procrastination level.

At that time for me was off the charts.

I did. Pull off some kind of, you know, English one oh one stuff. And I remember. Gosh, I think I remember flunking out that entire. First semester, right. About halfway through. And there was this thing in junior college where you could literally. You could somehow drop a class, almost two thirds the way through.

Which was good because if you knew you’re going to fail. Anyway, it would save you from that. And I remember dropping out of almost every class and. Just hanging around my parents’ house. Depressed. Just this heaviness. I was in a, an argument with , a lot of conflict with some family members, including my parents.

Just a lot of depression, a lot of heaviness and N.

I looked to the future and saw.

You know,

In some ways I saw some dreams of what life could be like that I’d always had since I was a kid, you know?

But as I looked at that time of my life to the future at those same dreams, I saw the gold and the shimmering and the Polishness of those images.

Kind of washing away as if they were being as if it was like a painting being. Rain Dawn and destroyed by the rain and just.

Those beautiful images of my future were just.

The gold was starting to wear off. And it was just looking like the, you know what, my future is not going to be very good. I don’t see this as a, how am I going to get to the future? How am I going to get to any of these things I want to do? I just feel so. Hopeless and incompetent, immensely incompetent.

I’m failing out of classes. I had zero friends and I had no social skills whatsoever. I had no ability to do that. I was absolutely socially anxious again, off the charts. That’s another area. I had almost no ability to do. Anything, I put my mind to. I was just felt like I was.

Grabbing onto some rope. I was being tugged along by, you know, Maybe a boat with a, with a rope and I’m just going to hold it on for dear life. Hoping I don’t fall off and drown. And, my family that I was living with at the time, my parents were struggling with their own issues. So we were all kind of in the same household, struggling and hopeless. And they had just been through a lot of financial issues. And problems. And I. Was looking to them for all my financial, you know, so sustenance and it was just a very.

Intense time. And , somehow by.

By some sort of grace for divine grace. A few years ago by, and I.

Plug along. Don’t do great, but I somehow am able to get enough credits to transfer. And I, and I decided to transfer. To a campus as far away from my home. Where I grew up in as I could, without paying out of state tuition. And thankfully I was in California, big state. So I was able to go from the bay area to Los Angeles and recreate.

life down there.

And.

I will. I remember. Sitting.

In my mom’s car, she had driven, drove down. In the spring of 20, 20, I’m sorry. Yeah, 2001 now. 2001, this is should DRO. She drove down and we were sitting in a parking lot and she hadn’t seen me for a while. And she said, you know, we were talking. About how I was feeling and stuff. And she said, you know,

I found a really good book.

It’s pretty incredible. You know, saw it on Oprah or whatever. It’s called the four agreements, check it out and she may have bought it for me or she was going to, I don’t know. She, I think she may have bought it for me or we, or she bought it for me the next day.

And I remember she told me to read the first page. I said, Ah, no, I don’t know. I don’t want to read this. And she said, no, please. Check it out. And she had me read the first. Page or something.

And I. I was

And here’s the effectively what I read. I’ll just read the first line, a few lines.

It says. What you were seeing. And hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming. With the brain awake.

And I have to say that when I read that.

It blew my mind. I had just.

You know, I’d been maybe two years before.

I and many other people, I’m sure many people. Had seen the matrix and that was extraordinarily transformative as a movie for, for a lot of us back then. I mean, We kind of take it for granted now, but that was a movie that just kind of came out of nowhere and it was in this sort of technology stuff, but really was so intensely deep about the nature of reality.

And so as I’m reading this. It’s just speaking. To something deep inside me that knows. Exactly. What that means. Yes, of course I’m dreaming right now. What I’m experiencing all this struggle.

All this hopelessness is exactly that it’s this is a dream.

And.

I think my mom that night, I said, okay, I’ll read this. And I meant it because that, that first, those first couple of lines. Drew me in, I could not put this book down and I started reading through it.

And.

What happened over the next three, two or three years? I’ll say, especially the first two years. But I’d say it took about three to four years actually. Is that it was a book that transformed my life. In the sense of that slowly but surely. I began.

To what the book. How the book we referred to it, I began to break the internal agreements that I had made. My entire life up to that point, I had unknowingly and unwittingly. Agreed. Two beliefs. To concepts. About myself and about the world about other people.

And as, and they were not helpful. They were to say the least, they were actually the opposite of that. They were counterproductive instead of productive. But I didn’t know that I was completely unaware in this moment that I picked up that book.

I was completely unaware. Of all the agreements I had made. I didn’t even understand the concept of agreements, but I had made all these agreements.

Said yes to them internally. And then didn’t understand what the consequences of those agreements were as they were running rampant throughout my life. Destroying any hope for joy. Peace.

Action.

And then I wonder, you know, just a general sense of why is nothing working out for me? Why is nothing looking? You know, I have no friends. I had dating was just a. Million miles away. That wasn’t. That was nothing. That was going to be happening for me anytime soon I could, I could foresee myself as some.

Lonely. Depressed 40 year old that, you know, The 40 year old Virgin Ryan. I could see that as my reality.

And that was scary. To not see myself having. A meaningful relationship or any relationships I’d never had a date up to that point. I hadn’t. I had had only friends that like me were extremely. Socially anxious. I had.

Never really looked into any of the bullying that I had a undergone in. Elementary and middle school and high school up to that point. I never processed any of that. Aye. Had been just diagnosed. Three or four years before with type one diabetes, which. It was a whole nother issue and, and was physically difficult. Every day was just difficult to get up and difficult. I had low energy, immensely, low energy.

And was immensely angry and depressed and felt. Victimized by the unfairness of life with that, because it’s, it’s a very, extremely difficult disease to live with. If you don’t know how to manage it. And I had real, really no support. To know how to go through this. How do I deal with this? And so.

Over those three years after reading that book, I began to. Oh, this is a different way of looking at it. Oh, Hmm. I always believed that I was worthless. I always believed that I was

What did, what did we use in our family? Spoiled. You were spoiled brat. That was a, it. Sort of like a phrase we use at our home. Everyone identified as that. I have no doubt. It was something that was passed along generation. To generation. And that was something that I identified with. That’s who I am. Right. I’m the spoiled brat. I’m the person who can’t get it together. I’m the very mediocre in terms of academics and, you know, ability to do anything with my life.

Below average and a lot of other things. Nothing particularly not particularly good at anything. So these are the, these, these were the agreements that I had agreed to unknowingly. That were basically blocking me from doing anything. And what I want to bring out is that. As I began to question these things.

Each. Agreement would be broken. And what’s cool about this. Kind of model of thinking about how to free yourself as. I think as Marcus has to free yourself.

Is that. The recommendation from, from the four agreements. Was that you start with a little things. Start with a small agreement

Maybe you make. Maybe you’ve made an agreement.

That you don’t like brussel sprouts. You don’t like spicy foods. Now this is not. An existential agreement that affects who you think you are or an identity issue. This was just a preference and you have made the agreement. I don’t like spicy foods.

But maybe you look to question that well, That’s an agreement. It’s not a big deal. Let me see. Let me try. And then you try push through that fear.

And suddenly, you know what, you’ve tried some, a new it’s kind of a different experience, not so bad. A couple more times. Four or five meals suddenly. Oh, actually I’ve developed a taste for that. I guess I do. Have the ability to like spicy foods, I guess I do like spicy foods. Small agreement. But what Miguel Ruiz would often say either in talks that I’ve heard he’d give, or I, I had heard him give or.

I think there’s another book. Called the companion to the four agreements or something that I got this from.

You basically start from these little agreements, the ones that are not so consequential.

But they still. Each agreement. That you’ve ever made, whether it be bigger, small has a certain amount of energy. Into it. And not only is it just.

Energy. It’s particularly your energy, your personal power, your personal energy. That is now. Locked up in this agreement. So, whether that is the agreement I’m. Bad at math. I suck at math. Or I don’t like spicy foods. Or in my case, it was, yeah, bad. Math was one Another one was I’m not very good at sports. Another one was I’m not attractive. And other one was.

I’m I don’t know what to do with my life.

Each of these agreements. And this is an agreement again, it’s not, we have we attached to these beliefs and we hear them repeated over and over in our consciousness.

And we don’t argue. Right. And if we don’t argue, they just keep going and thus, they become. Effectively agreement. Yes. Yes. That’s true too. Oh, yes. That’s true too. Of course I’m not attractive. Of course. Not good at math course.

We don’t fight the back. We allow them. They become. The voice in our head and they, and they reaffirm themselves constantly.

And each one has a lot of power.

Some are very important and they are.

Detrimental. To our joy, to our hopes, to our dreams and some are not. I don’t like spicy food, not a big deal. I’m not going to hurt you that much, but there’s, but it’s still an agreement as a, and as you break each agreement, as I began to break. These small agreements.

Little bit by little bit. I’d recover a bit of that energy.

I didn’t know this was happening, actually, this is, this was me looking back years later.

I just started to question the way I was brought up. The beliefs that were given to me.

Was I bad at math? Well, let me try, let me see. Am I. Is there something stopping me from trying, let me, let me spend an hour. And be bold and go in and ask a professor for help spending time at their office hours. Oh, you know what, if they explained something to me, I’m starting to get this. Hmm.

Maybe I’m not so bad at this. Am I not attractive? Well, let me go look at that. Am I. Confused about my life. Well, here’s some things I’m interested in. Maybe this will lead to something. Each. Agreement by agreement, go into them. Questioning them. Until you start to get to the bigger ones, the found more foundational ones.

I’m. A spoiled brat. That was always the phrase that I grew up listening to a spoiled brat. Is that true? Hm, why. Let me look at that. Let me question that.

And just the process of questioning, just the process of facing some of these. Assumptions. Of course, of course, of course, of course. That’s who I am. Of course. I’m not that good at those. Of course. I’m not good at that. Just looking at these. Just facing them, just questioning them suddenly they start to lose their power and suddenly that power, that energy.

Is brought back now. I’m I know I’m talking sort of a theorial stuff here, energy. What does that mean? It’s not, some of it can necessarily be measured, but maybe if anything, psychological power psychological. Energy there is. Everything is energy. I mean, whether you look at that completely.

From the physical world or. Or beyond. We see, we see energy everywhere. Right?

And what I will say is that. There was also a lot of drama in my life with my family.

And that drama. Was certainly.

Draining me of energy.

And the drama was based on agreements. Bad. Yeah. Expectations of how they should act of how they should be. So they should be this. They should be that they should do this. They should do that. They shouldn’t do this. They shouldn’t do that. All of these should we’re agreement to all these shouldn’t were agreements. All these expectations of everyone.

We’re agreements.

And. You can, even, again, with the energy thing, you can see it. Think about that person.

Who, you know, in your life who can’t get over some drama with their friend or family member. They can’t get over it. They keep talking about it. It’s over and over again. Whether you believe their spiritual energy or. Not, you can see that they are spending. A good amount of their mental resources.

Worried and thinking and consumed by drama that goes around and around their heads. And even from a purely physical point of view, The food that they’re eating. Which is a form of energy. Which is. An energy that is derived from the sun effectively. Through plants and through. Plants often to animals and then either plants or animals we consume.

That stored his energy. That becomes. What. Your, your brain is able to process. To run. And what is this person doing? They’re spending that precious energy from the sun effectively. On the drama round and round, round and round, round and round, or they can’t get over it. And no wonder they can’t.

Move on with their life. No wonder nothing is really. Nothing is really progressing in their lives.

And this is where I was. 20 years ago.

And as I began to break these agreements, Go through each of them. Explore investigate. Question the way I was raised question the agreements I had, I had said yes to. Silently said yes to. I began to break free, recover. This energy stopped the mental. Round and rounds of drama on my head. Or reduce them greatly.

And lo and behold, I suddenly had a lot of energy. Even as a diabetic, who is uncontrolled at the time. And that again is depleting. Extremely depleting for physical energy. I still had tons of energy compared to what I did before, before what I had before.

I was moving around. I was like alive suddenly. I couldn’t believe it. All because I had been willing to. Start. Attacking that foundation, these foundational agreements and questioning them.

And so.

I like this paradigm of thinking. Because it is extremely practical. And extremely effective in terms of.

When you feel stuck when you feel hopeless?

When you feel. Rudderless. Just being able to begin the process of questioning agreements. So that.

You can take heed of these incredible.

Sayings. And directions and recommendations from the Stoics.

Marcus really says everyone gets one life. Yours is almost used up. And instead of treating yourself with respect, You haven’t trusted your own happiness to the souls of others. And that’s exactly. What I was doing, I was spending all my energy. It’s incredible. Gift of a life force.

And giving it away, giving all my happiness or my potential for happiness, a way to everybody else, except for me.

Marcus also says, make time for yourself. Stop letting yourself be pulled in all directions. And so I think. Again, a lot of these recommendations, a lot of these quotes from, from the stoic philosophers are extremely powerful. They are exactly the truth. And yet sometimes it’s like, yeah, but how, how do I do it? Of course I shouldn’t waste any more time. Of course I should stop.

Being pulled in directions. Of all these different ways. Of course I should stop giving away. My attention to all this drama, but how.

Well, the how for me. Was in the process of questioning and then eventually breaking. Agreement by agreement, starting with a small. And I’m working my way upward. To the large.

And. There’s another really great concept that I think came from Miguel Ruiz that I the author of the four agreements that I really love. Which was effectively. If there’s an action you want to take, if there’s a goal. You want. To achieve. You have to think of it as if you are wanting to shoot for maybe the moon, right. Or you want to, let’s say you want to shoot for.

Escaping Earth’s atmosphere. We think about a rocket.

Well, a rocket.

Two. Even lift off.

Needs to overcome.

The 9.8.

Units of force 9.8 Newtons. Units of force that are. Pressing. Pressing down on that rocket pushing it into the ground due to its weight. Due to its mass.

And gravity pushing that against the ground. Right. That’s you that’s, you know, my computer that’s a rocket. Everything is being pressed to the ground. By again, 9.8 units. Newtonian units of force. And in order to overcome this force. What do you need? Do you need. An opposing force. Greater than.

9.8. You need.

  1. At least you need 9.9. Didn’t. To finally have the ability to start going up to lift off.

And so we have to think of it that way is if you want to accomplish something, that’s a huge obstacle for you. You can’t just assume that you’re going to be able to do it.

With.

A source of energy. It’s not. Big enough, you need. Your own internal source of power and energy.

That’s not just equal to you, to your goal, to the, to the.

To the goal that you’re trying to overcome. Or to achieve, I should say. You need more than that. You need. A large pool of energy. And so what I think happens to a lot of people as they tried to accomplish things, Not recognizing that all of their energy that they could be using to accomplish. And overcome the challenges.

To get to their goal. All of the energy that they need to do so to successfully do so. All their energy is already taken for is already used up. It’s already.

Spoken for.

It’s in these agreements about is hidden away in your psyche. Yeah, not good enough here. Yeah. I’m not smart enough. I’m not capable enough all over the place.

And. Little do we realize, oh, I, you know, why can’t I do this? Why can’t I ever come this? Why am I just not getting it? Well, where is your energy? Where’s your energy being used up. Where’s your energy locked. Up.

And the moment you start to break. These agreements, you get that energy back and then on and only then can you start to be. Can you begin?

To accomplish things that you didn’t think you could before. And that is exactly what I found happening in my life. Back then. Three years into this process. I remember very clearly. Waking up one morning.

And it was just a regular day. Maybe it was a Saturday. I was still going to school. I was in my dorm room and I remember thinking. Holy shit.

Aye.

I don’t think I feel depressed anymore. Huh.

And what I mean by that is that for the past, Since I, since I was a young child, I, since as early as I’m almost could remember. I’m probably middle school-ish or elementary school. I don’t even know, but there was a point where I would wake up in the morning and I would just feel depressed. Every single morning and it took me kind of push myself out the door, get moving to kind of get over that every morning, but it was always there lingering in the morning every single morning.

And. I had just thought that was life. I just thought that was normal. And one day waking up three or four years later after beginning this process. I realize, oh, it’s. Not there anymore. How bizarre. Which it wasn’t, you know, what’s amazing about it too. It wasn’t. Losing that, that depression, that default depression is what I like to call it.

It. Wasn’t.

Experienced as joy or. Any sort of like.

Tranquility or just inner, inner, you know, just this inner joy. No, it wasn’t, it wasn’t necessarily a positive thing. It just was the absence of a negative thing.

And I just remember. Being in all of that.

And suddenly.

When I tried to do things. They worked. I had graduated with my bachelor’s. With very, just average as an average could get GPA, maybe it was a 2.9 or 3.1 or some very average. And as I was waking up from this stuff, the next thing after my bachelor’s, I went in to do a masters a few years later. And

I just remember feeling like this. The material is so much harder than my bachelor’s and yet I was just so. Easy. To focus for the first time I was able to actually focus. Mental energy on this stuff. And I was, you know, I just sailed through with a near perfect GPA. And that’s not to, I’m not saying this stuff to brag at all. It’s just more, like I thought it was fascinating.

To me. How easy things became that were so freaking difficult before that shouldn’t have been that difficult. I knew they shouldn’t be, but they were why. Y and, and. And then suddenly after breaking a lot of agreements, things were just, ah, This isn’t as hard. Not to say that I didn’t find new challenges that could be.

That could give me a run for my money. I did, but that’s not the point. It’s not about, you know, okay. I’m done. It is about this. Continual progress and then new challenges come up and then you have. You have more agreements to break, you know, and we all, this is a lifetime. Process. But I really love this concept of one of my favorite concept in personal growth.

This notion of breaking agreements to recover energy to then.

Accomplish the thing that you want. Change the things in your life that you want to change. Do the things you want and also just be happier without doing anything. As. Marcus says, just finding time for that tranquility making time for yourself.

So.

I have to say. If you haven’t already. Please check out the four agreements. But Don Miguel Ruiz. And if you haven’t read it in a while, I’m sure many of you have. Check it out from that perspective and see, read it again and see , if it makes sense and if it clicks and if you have any thoughts on that, I’d love to hear from you.

That’s the end of our show. Hopefully you found this discussion. Interesting. Hopefully you enjoyed it. We have a good time with the discussions. We enjoy them, but they do take a lot of work outside of our normal everyday responsibilities. So one thing you can do, if you really, if you like what you’re hearing, if you want to hear more of it and you want us to keep doing this, go into your.

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