You know how it works. You set a boundary, there’s resistance. You start to argue, and the situation escalates. The more you tug one way, the other side tugs harder. You’ve just entered a power struggle, and once you do, it’s all over. This is true whether the struggle is with a student, child or unwanted thought in your head.

You can choose not to engage in the battle. Instead of fighting the thoughts, disregard them. Or more accurately, replace them. When your mind is proactively engaged in a meaningful way, the intrusive thoughts have no room to enter.

A woman wrote to the Rebbe in a difficult emotional state, seeing no reason to continue living. The Rebbe didn’t deliver a rational response why life was indeed worth living, nor did he advise her to convince herself of the matter. His approach was for her to distract herself, throwing herself into raising her family without paying heed to the depressing thoughts.

The evil inclination will find all sorts of tactics, inviting you to the battleground with depression, anxiety, lust or any other temptation. It is easy to give in and to obsess over these all-too-human thoughts. Instead, you can simply ignore these thoughts, in effect saying: “I’m busy doing good stuff, and I’ve just got no time for you.”

Thoughtstream: Today, instead of fighting unwanted thoughts, I will replace them with a positive thought.

(Adapted from Mei’Otzar Hamelech, vol. 1, pg. 71, and vol. 2, pg. 51.)

Please note, in the case of clinical depression or anxiety, please see a competent professional.