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How to Get Out of a Funk

March 19, 2014

lookingattheseaLast Thursday, I woke up in a funk. You know those days when your normal coping mechanisms for the ups & downs of life just feel broken? And you have no desire to look on the bright side, take the high road, give yourself a pep talk, or any of that other optimistic “crap”—and you’d rather just super-glue yourself to the pity pot and throw yourself a party? Yeah, it was one of those days.

It was a doozy too—I wallowed in it. The. Entire. Day. Everyone who came within 10 feet of me could probably tell since my usual sunny disposition was…well, glaringly absent. Around the time I went to bed though, I was tired of my attitude AND my funk. (Truthfully, it reached a point where I didn’t want to even be in the same room with me anymore. Don’t judge.)

It was time to get real about what was causing it—turns out, it wasn’t a new story. It was the one where I was listening to my gremlins & the self-doubt garbage they were spewing in my head about me, my life, and my ability to make happen a few big things I’ve been working on lately. Deep down I know their schtick is total B.S., but I’m human. And sometimes it feels “easier” to be their victim than to cowboy up and do what it takes to put them in their place.

It’s not really “easier” though. It often seems that way in the moment, but the truth is, the easy-choice hangover will usually always come back to bite you like a hungry, rabid skunk. (In case you’ve never encountered one of those, I’ll just tell you that it’s not—at all—like cozying up to Pepe Le Pew.)

 

Funk-busting (a.k.a. Gremlin Counter-terrorism)

Gremlins (you may also know them as your saboteurs, fears, or Inner Critic) are kind of like your own personal terrorists—in the fact that they are constantly coming up with sneaky new ways to get under your skin and wreak havoc in your life. Your confidence, peace of mind, and belief in yourself become casualties in their misguided war to keep you [playing] safe and maintain the status quo. The good news is that once you get their number, they can be managed using the same tactics over and over again.

That’s the beautiful thing about gremlin taming.

Here are two effective + actionable strategies for getting out of a gremlin-induced funk. Use them individually or in combo for maximum effect.

1.    Start with Gratitude (even if it’s ordinary). Gratitude is a brilliant shifter of mind-sets and perspectives. In the throes of a funk, sometimes you can immediately laser in on the soulful things for which you are so profoundly grateful—those things that in and of themselves have the power to lift you out of yourself and reconnect you with your Big Picture and the things that really matter. Like your kids. The love of your life. Your best friend since Kindergarten. Your health. Your family’s health. Your job that provides for a roof over your head and food on the table. Being a citizen of a country that affords freedom and personal liberty, along with economic + political stability.

And yet other times your bounty of blessings is more difficult to grab hold of. Not because you’re not grateful—but because you’re dealing with your gremlins and there is just a lot of muck in your head and in the way. That’s when you call out your Appreciator and start with acknowledgement of the simple pleasures and everyday things you’re thankful for.

I’m thankful for the blue sky & sunshine today.

I’m thankful that I have eyes that can see the sun.

I’m thankful that I have a bed to sleep in.

I’m thankful for indoor plumbing.

I’m thankful for the $5 in my wallet that bought my latte this morning.

I’m thankful for belly-rub time with my dog.

I’m thankful for the gentleman who held the door for me at the Post Office.

I’m thankful for I Love Lucy marathons.

I’m thankful for the lovely voicemail from my niece.

I’m thankful for the hug I just got from a co-worker.

I’m thankful the auto shop had a cancellation and could fit me in today.

 Practicing gratitude in this way—by appreciating the “ordinary” things and moments—shifts your focus from a place of lack to one of abundance. It’s you shining a light on what’s already RIGHT with your Self and in your life so you can see the good and feel the joy that is already there.

 
2.    Go be of service to someone else. Being of service to others has incredible transformative powers—for you and the people you’re helping. I’m sure you’ve experienced the result of it many times and in numerous ways throughout your life. Like the satisfaction of a job well done. The wonder of seeing the difference you’ve made. Receiving the gift of someone else’s gratitude. The pure joy of giving.

Ah, yes. That.

When you’re stuck in a funk, and in the midst of lamenting about You, Your Self, and You, (hey, no shame…it’s just what happens) taking action to give of yourself to others turns into a “caring cure.”  Namely, it gets you out of your head and into the world. Human to human. Connecting. Helping. Generating positive impact. Adding some purpose & meaning to your life.

Often we think of service in the big ways—like volunteering for a cause. But like with gratitude, it can be expressed in an infinite number of small ways.

Calling a friend to see how they’re doing.

Smiling and saying hello to a stranger.

Letting a car in front of you on the highway.

Cooking your spouse’s favorite meal.

Baby-sitting your nephews to give your sister a night off.

Baking treats for your co-workers.

The fact is, we all need help in our lives. And being generous with your time, energy, & resources helps you help yourself [out of your funk], while at the same time doing some good for others.

 
 

Inquiring minds want to know: When you’re in a funk, what do you do to get yourself out of it? Let’s chat about it in the comments below.

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