You know the old Louie Armstrong song, Noooooobuuuuudy knows the trouble I've seen. Noooooobuuuuudy knows my soooorrroooww. Ringing a bell? (Spaceballs anyone?!)
Ok, age aside (I'm feeling old) that song is a classic and at one point (or many) I'm sure we've all thrown a fab pity party centered around that exact theme. We're feeling low, knee deep in troubled waters, feeling under-appreciated and overwhelmed (hallooooooo motherhood, I'm talking to you!), and it's easy to let those feelings take over, which in turn cues that little voice in our heads that if left to their own devices can easily turn into a booming death metal song you can't get out of head! (WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, DUN DUN DUN, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, DUN DUN DUN, YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH, DUN DUN DUN.... or something like that. Heh.)
Whatever the tune that plays in your mind, you do realize that those thoughts are there to undermine you, right? And you do realize that it's only your brain doing the job it was intended to do, right? When things get to be a bit too much, or we're feeling down and out about our situations, the human brain is designed to focus on what's going wrong in our lives and to basically freak out about it. It's been working that way for millions of years (so as to avoid death by lion feasting!), and although it would be a welcome change if it could slightly evolve so that we're all filled with joy and rapture all the time instead of shifting toward the negative, it did at one point serve a purpose. Now, however, these thoughts we have are actually helping to create depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and so much more.
That's why it's so important to have a strategy when you're feeling low because it's so easy to stay there and wallow in it. But honey, life keeps moving and if you spend too much time wallowing in your "comfort zone", (because let's be honest, even though it doesn't make you feel good, there is some sort of pleasure you get from remaining there... if it didn't, you'd get out of there ASAP!), you're gonna miss a whole big part of life. For example, all the good parts!
Let's get strategizing then so we can get to the good parts of living!
Here's what I've started doing when I'm feeling low and so far it's been helping me get out of some major funks. But it's a work in progress and just when you think you have it all figured out, you fall prey. So be diligent and practice these steps often so they become second nature to you.
1. Recognize your strengths. Because baby you've got them! You have a gift that only you have and you need to know what that gift is. And it could be many! Think of what you're good at and write it down. Make a list. Write it out and place it where you'll see it always! You're special and you have something that no one else in this whole wide world has, and you need to know it, celebrate it, and cultivate it. Are you good at sorting stuff? Talking to strangers? Creating time-saving short-cuts? Whatever it is, no matter how small you think it is, it's something unique to you and you need to understand it and own it. Even better, ask your close friends and family what they think your strengths are, I bet you'll be surprised (happily!) at what they have to say.
2. Understand your triggers. What thought, or action sets in motion the feelings of inadequacy, failure, or anxiety? What causes you not to believe in yourself? Is it a person, an activity, a recurring thought? How can you change your circumstances so you can avoid or lessen the strength of that trigger?
For me, it's my lack to plan out my days, which inevitably leave me feeling like I've accomplished nothing with the time I had for the day. Something simple like that has the ability to knock the wind right out of my sails. Once I realized that it became simple to come up with a solution. Now I spend 15 - 20 minutes every morning after the kids have been dropped focusing on what I want to accomplish along with what needs I have to fulfill (like going to the grocery store, planning play dates and returning library books - things that easily fall by the wayside.) Once I learned that this little practice turned around those feelings of not being able to get it all done, I actually felt accomplished at the end of the day... so much better than feeling defeated!
3. Always be kind to yourself. Ditch the negative talk! It serves absolutely no purpose but to bring you down. And the more you do it, the more your brain and body begin to fall into line and believe it even more. I tell my son when he says something negative about himself or even his little brother, that what he says will go up to the stars who hear him and send the message back down to him even stronger so that everyone around him will begin to believe it. (That's the best way I can describe the energy of the Universe to him, and he gets it and stops the pattern right then and there. Usually!)
If you keep telling yourself that you're not worthy, that you don't believe in your abilities or that things can't get better, what do you think is going to happen? Joy isn't going to come along unexpectedly and smother you. No way. Joy sees your dark cloud and understands there is no room for it there.
When you notice the negativity starting to come in, stop it in its tracks by saying one nice thing about yourself. And then put a big fat smile on your face even if it's killing you inside to do it! It will change the moment and then you can change the thought.
3a. Get Inspired! (This was a last minute add-on but I was feeling it so strongly I had to share!) Having something to work towards, something that gets your juices flowing will get you out of your funk fo' sure! Get selfish and take time to pursue your passions, even if it's for 30 minutes a day. What would you want to do if you could do ANYTHING in the world? Be a savvy day-trader? Know three languages? Learn how to make a mean Soupe à L'oignon? Whatever it is, becoming inspired creates a fire inside that just won't die. It keeps you young, and motivated, and can open up new worlds. Challenge yourself to get inspired and you'll soon forget you're in a funk!
I believe in these steps so much so that I created a pretty little worksheet for you to print out so you can practice these methods for yourself to see how they really do work. You can download the worksheet here, and please give yourself a good 10 - 15 minutes to fill it out. The power of your own written words is pretty incredible so take advantage and keep this close at hand when completed. Refer to it as often as you need!
If you have any methods that you employ that help you to get out of your funk and start believing in yourself, you must share! I'd love to hear what you do, so comment below and I'll let you know if that's something I'll begin to do as well! (Sharing is caring!)