Saturday, November 27, 2010

Paula's Incredible Time Machine

Here is one of the most effective tools I've come across for dealing with bouts of discouragement and depression easily and thoroughly. It is completely free because this amazing machine operates within your own head. Here's how it works. When circumstances get you down, all you have to do is remind yourself, "Oh, I've got the incredible time machine." Then you choose to either zoom it back into the past, ahead into the future or a combination of the two.

I'll take my current discouragement issue to take as an example. I've been plugging away trying to write and sell my books for over ten years and feel as if I've been pushing a mountain all that time. I sometimes manage to move that mountain a few inches but if I stop to rub my throbbing head, it promptly slides back to just where it was. Well, that's how it seems anyhow. I know that discouragement can distort actual facts. When I'm tired and stressed, it's easy to sink into the rut of self-pity. Now that I know the Time Machine helps me out of this rut, here's what I do.

1) Whiz back into the past as many years as I want to go.

I zoom back to the year 1987, when I was totally stressed with my Year 12 load and convinced that I would crack under the strain. I was thinking, "I'll never get an offer to any university because my grades will be too lame." (RESULT: I actually did pass all the subjects fairly well and even achieved the highest score possible for English and I did get an offer to Adelaide University in the first round of offers)

Next I whiz back to those years of study when all my friends were pairing up, I was still single and depressed because I never thought I'd meet the right person, because all the nicest fellows were already taken etc etc. (RESULT: When I'd just turned 21, my brother-in-law introduced me to somebody who worked with him, and that turned out to be Andrew, who I've now been happily (mostly) married to for eighteen years)

Then I visit the year 1993, when I was having repeated early miscarriages and convinced myself that there was no way I'd possibly be able to start a family, because for some unknown reason, I just couldn't stay pregnant. (RESULT: I now have three fun, intelligent kids who are aged between fifteen and six)

There are other examples I could choose but you get the idea. When I revisit the past, I see that the results would have been just the same without putting myself through all the stress of the worry and depression, which turned out to be totally wasted and useless. Then I remind myself, "Hey, there seems to be a pattern here. One day I'll look back and kick myself for all the years of misery and depression I'm putting myself through now. So I'm going to stop. I don't see the full picture. Instead of being depressed, I'm going to simply keep on doing the small things that are put before me each day and stay optimistic because I have no idea of the great things the future may hold."

Then the thought of the future reminds me to use the Incredible Time Machine in the opposite direction.

2) Whiz forward five, ten, fifteen or more years. Then simply remember to ask myself, "Will this really matter then?"

My son, Logan, may be stressing us all out because he has a long-overdue assignment due, needs my help and neither of us can easily understand the text book. Or my son Blake may still be whining and struggling with a reading concept that I feel I've been over and over again with him. Instead of stressing and groaning, I can remember to whiz us forward and realise, "Hey, this issue will be long behind us in 5 years."

Or I may have tried to hold a Light the Dark party showcasing all the excellent Aussie books and products for Christmas shopping, got a whole lot of good food in, made a beautiful looking spread beneath the flashing Christmas tree and then nobody showed up. (Yes, this one isn't hypothetical. It actually happened last night. It is one of the weekly events (or non-events) that has pulled me into my rut) OK, so I take a deep breath, square up my shoulders, grin at my family and say, "Hey, ten years from now, this night will be well behind me. In fact just weeks from now, this night will be well behind me because I'm not going to stop persevering."

So if you get how the Incredible Time Machine works, I'm inviting you to use it too, because this is a blog that's designed to encourage. I believe that simple techniques are often the most effective. When we acknowledge our own lapses into depression, they may prove encouraging to others and therefore not wasted. So use this tool, fly backward and forward through your past and future, remind yourself that as change is definite, you might as well shake off your despondency and get on with the jobs you have before you.



  1. Hi Paula. Sorry you're having a tough week! But what a great tool to keep pushing through. I love how God has good things in store for us, even when we are going through the tough times, eventually we will collide with the promises and blessing He has for us. XXOO

  2. I'm sorry about your difficult week. I think this is a great idea you have except maybe focus more on those up sides. Think "Hey, I have three beautiful kids, but I never thought I would have a family!"

    I've had poetry and juggling workshops where no one shows. It's slightly embarrassing, but I started looking at it as an opportunity to just enjoy the time and work on my own juggling or read poetry with my kids. I can't control things like interest in my programs, but I can control my response to difficult situations. Not that I'm an expert at controlling my emotions, but I do try! :o)

    Things will pick up for you. I know it! You are a wonderful storyteller and you are doing what you love. That is most important!

    Peace and Laughter!

  3. Great concept Paula, so true.
    Hope you have an amazingly fruitful and wonderful week this week.

  4. Thanks ladies, I appreciate your feedback.
    Amanda, your thought makes me think of that verse from Exodus about being overtaken by blessings.
    Cristina, thanks for your reminder. I sometimes put this sort of thing down to the "She'll be right" laid-back Australian mindset, but you've made me think that human nature is just the same the world over.
    Michelle, I was pleased to catch up with you in Brisbane a few weeks ago.
    Wish you all a blessed week too,