Never say never until it’s past tense, right? That was the motto that I had adopted throughout the bulk of my adult life but now more than ever since we moved overseas. However, something the last few weeks happened that I could have sworn would “never happen” again; I fell into a funk. This funk that I am referring to was something that I had fallen into shortly after we moved. I wish I could say I fell out of it as fast I fell into it, but it lasted six months. Six whole months of putting on a happy face but feeling sad, six months of
tears, six months of binge-watching shows on Netflix. You get the idea. The reason I bring this up now is that this past week I felt myself fall back into these feelings again. It was almost as if I was in a perpetual state of deja vu. Because of this, I found myself getting angry with myself! How could this be happening again? I was dumbfounded by it but found myself unable to stop it. Then something happened.
For the workshop I facilitate, I do a lot of prep work for it in the days leading up to it. You wouldn’t think that I would need to and you’re probably right; I choose too. The bulk of what I research is the current job market, unemployment rates as they pertain to Veterans, upcoming job fairs, etc. Your standard “stuff” when you’re teaching people who are leaving the military how to get a job. What most people don’t realize is I spend equally as much, if not more time, looking into the psychology of seeking employment, having a great interview and being able to find your next move in life. Every book and study I’ve read, every TED Talk I’ve listened to all point to the same conclusion; your mind drives your success and overall feeling of confidence.
‘Practice what you preach’ is a saying I think most people have heard, or said to others, at one point in their lives. I said it to myself a few hours ago. I will continue to say it to myself again and again because one thing became glaringly apparent to me as I tried to pull myself out of the funk that I felt like I was slipping into; all of my thoughts were negative. ‘It’s so hard living here,’ ‘It’s too hot here,’ ‘why does everything have to be so hard here,’ ‘nobody understands what life here is like’ so on and so forth. The list of self-sabotaging thoughts I had could easily fill up half a sheet of paper. Crazy right? Not so much crazy as it is unnecessary stress. So what do you do if you feel like you’re at a point in your life where you feel like you’re cruising into a rut?
- Self-Nudging: In the book ‘Presence‘ by Dr. Amy Cuddy she dives heavily into the area of behavioral psychology as it pertains to how we live our day to day lives. A section of her book discussed the topics of judgment and influence. She highlights the fact that there have been numerous case studies surrounding the area of how easily influenced we are. But little work has been done on how we influence ourselves. The idea she speaks of is to make small, almost unnoticeable changes to your daily life. These nudges, as she calls them, are minimal modifications to your body and mindset. The book goes into great detail about this topic, as well as the case studies to back the idea up, so I recommend it to anyone who is looking for a more scientific approach to all of this. The bottom line is, it works. For myself, my self-nudging comes in the form of smiling. When I feel myself slipping into a bad mood, or if I’m going into a social situation that I don’t necessarily have the desire to be in, I go off on my own for a short period, and I force myself to hold a smile for 2 minutes. This 2 minutes will feel like an eternity, but you will feel the shift within yourself almost immediately. During and after these 2 minutes I feel the stress leaving my body, and my mood becomes uplifting.
- Create Your Reality: Winston Churchill once said: “you create your universe as you go along.” He couldn’t be more correct. Think about your day to day life. When you wake up in the morning, are you excited to start another day? Or is your first thought one of dread that you have another day to face? How you shape your day seems to begin as soon as we open our eyes. Now I’m not saying I start every single day beaming like a ray of sunshine. What I am saying though is I make every attempt possible to begin each day as positively as possible. The first thing I avoid is social media. It can be very tempting while you’re lying there to reach for your phone and mindlessly scroll through Facebook while you wake up but often that stresses me out. It could be something as simple as a post that sparks that internal ‘I can’t believe she did/said that‘ feeling. You are inadvertently setting yourself up to have ‘another bad day’ by doing this. You shouldn’t have to start your day emitting negativity and judgment.
- Count Your Blessings: Sounds simple, because it is! If you were to ask me to make you a list of all of the things I wish were different right now about life, I could write that out for you fairly quickly depending on the day. I think we all could. Focusing on the negative seems to be something we’ve all gotten pretty good at. But what if you focused on just the positive? One thing we’ve begun doing in our house is saying to each other what we’re grateful for that day. That’s how we’ve started ending our nights in our home. Again, we don’t begin every day perfectly, but we do tend to wake up feeling more excited about what is to come that day than dreading it.
So, am I sitting here feeling like a million bucks? Not necessarily. But I am sitting here telling you that the funk that I was moving towards full speed ahead has almost entirely left me as I begin to take control of my thoughts. It’s not fun to hear it, but I like to remind myself that if I feel miserable, it’s my fault. That’s right; it’s my fault if I’m miserable. Harsh, eh? A bit but we all create our realities. So what life will you create for yourself?