Everyone of us knows the feeling: Someday, we will be stuck in the base of a mental trough. We are down. We feel defeated and frustrated. Our motivation is hampered.
Some of us may have arrived here successively over time. Others may have crashed. Maybe a huge blow got us here. A setback in our professional or private lives. Maybe small repeated frustrations. Maybe we have taken a wrong turn at a decision in life and now face the dire consequences. Maybe we been on a mistaken course and stuck with it for too long.
Whatever the reason may have been, the result is we are down. We feel like a mere shadow of our own selves. A heavy mental weight burdens us. We can’t move freely. We feel impeded and slowed. What we produce, is now worse than it could be if it wasn’t for us being down.
It’s true: It’s hardest to see a way out if you are sitting knee deep down the trough.
They say, time will bring answers. Time will heal the wounds. Time will create a distance between us now and the things that happened. It’s supposed to provide us with a different perspective on the matter. Just swallow it. Over time, we are supposed to learn to accustom, to get used to and to accept. The passing of time is supposed to make things easier.
But what if it doesn’t? What if time is just ticking and things get worse? What if passing time just shows us how we get left behind? What if „time heals“ was just a big scam? What if by waiting we sell our visions and dreams for a meagre reality that we have just learned to accept? Too often we are told to persist.
What if we were much more of who we are if we just didn’t wait for time to cure our wounds?
What if it was in our hands to change the course of events? What if we could act to turn the tide and have time tick in our favor?
The first step you have to take to get out of the down is to not accept being down. This situation has to change. The state you are in is unacceptable. It’s now up to you to act.
So, stop letting time pass because letting time pass cannot be trusted.
Waiting for things to change does not help with the task of getting you out of the down. Coincidental changes rarely happen over time and you cannot bet on them. And having bet on the wrong horses is what got you down in the first place. Don’t repeat these past mistakes. Change. Do things differently from now on.
You just don’t know if over time, by doing nothing, your situation will get worse or if it won’t. You don’t know whether you have already passed the lowest of the lows or if that drought you’re in won’t get even drier. You could get into a downward spiral.
You just don’t know if things will get better over time. If you don’t decide to act, things won’t change.
So, how do you start to act? You start by stopping first. Stop and listen. There is a voice inside you. Chances are you haven’t listened enough to that voice.
Our inner voice is loud, sometimes. It’s hardly ever quiet if something doesn’t work for us. It tells us if the course of our life feels wrong. Our inner voice is always there if we aren’t happy in our relationships, if we aren’t fulfilled in our jobs, if we aren’t comfortable in our body. It tells us: “Something just doesn’t feel right.“
We can hear the echoes of this voice all the time, yet we make a habit of ignoring it. Sometimes, we stuff our ears so we don’t hear it. We just march on, no matter what our inner voice tells us, no matter how bad it feels to keep on marching. We stick with the wrong people, with the wrong jobs and the wrong habits, even though something inside us tells us: „Hey man, listen up. This just doesn’t feel right.“
How about you start to change that behavior? You should start to listen to that inner voice of yours.
Your inner voice is not always rational. Questioning a job or a relationship or a mindset that has accompanied you for a considerable part of your life and that has shaped you, that has defined you, may sound irrational. Is it sound to ditch it all? This is how you have functioned for a long time. Why would you pose such existential questions? Why would you ever question how you used to exist?
Understand this one thing about your inner voice: It is not always rational, it’s emotional. It’s not only located within your brain. Large parts of it also sit within your gut. It’s that gut feeling. It’s about emotions, passion and intuition.
Often in our lives, our feelings have to be held in check. They have to be placed second. Sometimes they have to give way to brain-only rational thought. Sometimes they have to be controlled. We can make rational decisions despite our feelings. These are the situations when we have to endure. Situations like these should be rare.
Because suppressing our feelings comes at a cost. If we neglect our feelings and conflict them with rational decision making, it creates a situation that is potentially unsustainable in the long run.
Suppressing your feelings requires force and sacrifice. Endure it only as long as your resources last. If you have exhausted your resources and it no longer feels right, it’s time for change.
If your resources are running low, stop and breathe. Breathe deeply. Focus on your inside. Be aware of your feelings, your passions and your intuition. Accept your feelings. They are who you are. Make room for them to blossom. Any down is always a chance for a fresh start. From now on further, you will act on the terms of your inner voice. It shall be your guidance out of the down.
When we are down we lose track of where we are in life. It feels like we have reached an impasse.
I have told you to stop and listen. Now I want you to zoom out. Try to get to the bigger picture of yourself and your current situation. Ask yourself, are the obstacles you’re facing so high? If you consider your situation from a higher ground, are there really no opportunities for you to still pursue what you have been after?
Every failure opens new opportunities, however distant they seem at first. Our mind always makes a situation worse than it objectively is. We trick ourselves into believing our down is insurmountable.
The solution however is to keep moving. Inch yourself forward. No matter how little your motion, it will take you out of paralysis.
Aren’t there any tiny baby steps you can take in the direction of your calling? What is even the smallest action that you can do now to get where you want to see yourself?
It’s not about the end goal. It’s about climbing the small steps on the ladder that take you there. Each ladder step can spike your optimism. Each single accomplishment, even in times of hardship, can make you happy and happiness is what you have to go after. For happiness there is no substitute. It’s the cure for being down.
If you keep moving, you will start to collect small wins again. Your problems may not be solved at once. However, any small win can make the difference. A new project? An interview for a different job? Moving to another town? Building personal connections with someone yet unknown? Just starting will make a difference. Take these small steps. They are what you desperately need. Once the ball is rolling, each additional gain is much easier. Small steps like these show you how you are still successful. They prove how your mind is wrong about your situation. Allow for moments of happiness if you have moved, however little it may have been. If you continue, your down will soon be over.
Waiting for things to change and for life to throw you a bone, isn’t working.
You have to take matters into your own hands. Don’t accept to feel down.
Listen to your feelings and trust their judgment. Breathe and question the course you’re on.
Start moving in a new direction. Dare to take a small step. It will make the difference.