If there is a downside or weakness to the world of personal growth and development, it's that it deals primarily with the positive. At least in my experience.
What I mean is that we tend to focus on "˜how to do this', and "˜how to do that'. How to grow, how to build momentum, how to influence and affect positive change in ourselves and others. And rightfully so! These are the things we should be focusing our energy on, right?
But one thing that I have battled with over time is what to do when all that other stuff is not working. I've written before about being in a funk. It happens to all of us. Good and bad, happy and sad, are all different sides of the same coin. One needs the other to exist. Without dark, there is no light. Without hard times, we can't identify and appreciate the good times.
But Don't Go LOOKING For Hard Times!
That doesn't mean that I want to just fall into a mild depression whenever things get tough. I can't just say "˜well, it's part of the process' and wait to come out of it. And some of us are more susceptible to these emotional highs and lows, for sure.
During a recent rough patch, just getting out of bed in the morning was a struggle for me. Not because I was tired or needed more sleep. It was just mental fatigue, a drop in self confidence, a tired spirit. It would sometimes take me 2 hours to get up and start the day. Two hours of just laying there, thinking and thinking, then trying not to think.
At that specific point in time, when I'm really just down and out, thinking about positive thinking and the bigger picture and all that doesn't always cut it. In my mind, I know that it's a rough patch. I know that I need to stay the course. I know that when things get tough, it's most important to stick to the daily habits that will get me to my goals.
But it still doesn't solve anything at that moment in time. And maybe it will take a few days of reminding myself of those things. But maybe it will take longer. Can I really afford two or three weeks of being like this? Do I want to?
I Don't"¦ But Then What Do I Do?
During this time, I would go through the daily motions as best as I could. I'd go to the gym and get my training in, even if it wasn't great. I'd get some work done, even if it wasn't great. I'd try to eat healthy, even if it wasn't great. Nothing seemed to help my mood or stop the negative conversation in my head.
I kept trying. Then one night, I don't know why, but I tried something different. I was feeling pretty terrible, and even counting my blessings wasn't working. Nothing was making me feel better about myself. I started to miss my brother and sister (we live far from each other), so I sent them each a text message.
It was simple. I just said basically, "˜I'm thinking of you. I just wanted you to know that I love you and am so very proud to be your brother.'
Honest words. Honest feelings that I've always had, and have tried to share with them from time to time. Right after I sent the texts, I felt a little better. I felt a little lighter. Then my brother wrote back, saying, "˜Thank you so much for such kind words.' It sounded almost as if he needed to hear those words. Maybe not? But he appreciated it. I felt even better at that point.
Then he called, and we chatted briefly. And I was smiling when we hung up. I went home and went to sleep that night feeling pretty decent.
The next morning I woke up and saw a text from my sister, reciprocating the feeling. Now I had a good start to that new day. An extra burst of energy and motivation.
So What Happened? How Do I Do It Again?
All this wasn't intended to happen. I wasn't anticipating these results. But here's what happened: when I was constantly focused on trying to fix myself, on being selfish and focusing on me, me, me"¦ things didn't get any easier. Maybe they would have eventually, but they weren't in the short term.
When I stopped trying to force myself out of it, I looked to make someone else feel better. My brother and sister in this case. And by spreading some love and positivity, it came back to me tenfold. And in a brief period of time, that outward gesture fixed what weeks of banging my head against a wall couldn't fix.
We say that in order to live a successful life, we need to help people. To affect people positively. I believe that, and I also believe that holds true for the smaller chapters throughout our life. When things aren't going well "“ affect people positively. Reach out to others and make someone feel good.
When things aren't going well, we tend to get into a cycle of negative thoughts without recognizing it. We think we're being positive, or that we're pushing ourselves. But thinking, "˜Come on! Get out of it! You're better then this! What's wrong with you?' and so on is basically berating yourself. No one feels good when they're berated.
Get out of your head and into the world when the funk hits you. Be genuine and let someone know they're the center of your world. Let someone know that they are your sunshine. Don't expect anything back or anything to happen. Just be genuine and affect someone in a positive way.
It's been the most effective method I've ever come across in my whole life 🙂
To Your Success,
P.S. What I'm talking about here doesn't refer to clinical depression. Going through a rough patch and hard times are a part of life, but are very separate and different then being clinically depressed. If that's you, please reach out to someone and seek the help that you need. There are people in your life that want to help, I promise.