3 Ways to Get Yourself Out of an Emotional Rut
I don’t know about you but from time to time I go through my moments when, as kids say these days, I feel some type of way. The type of way I’m referring to here is blue, down, discouraged, depressed. During those times it feels like the entire universe conspires against me because nothing seems to go right.
If you’re whole life is picture perfect as most broadcast on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram you don’t know what I mean. But it goes something like this – you’re turning a year older and you realize you did not meet your set goals, you’re passed over for a promotion, you suddenly develop some health issues and you take an unforeseen financial hit. Just as you struggle to look at a bright side there’s a passing in the family, your kid rediscovers the terrible twos, your car gets a flat tire (or another mechanical issue), as you prepare to finish your laundry you grab damp clothing because the drier didn’t dry and your dinner gets ruined. At that point you throw your arms up in the air and start wondering WHY ME?? WHAT ELSE CAN GO WRONG? (By the way, bad question – never ask that! Ever heard of Murphy’s Law? We’ll save that for another post)
And that’s when the silver lining is completely gone and you start noticing every single negative aspect of your life. The cynic in you thinks the light at the end of the tunnel its an incoming train. No one can do anything right, including yourself. You begin expecting bad things to happen every time. If you go out with friends you may be the black cloud prophesizing doom over everything until you simply give up and withdraw to a hermit state. At this point a depressive mood has officially set in. But what do you do then? How do you get yourself out this emotional rut?
Let me begin by saying that if this mood persists for six months or more it may be more than a passing rut and you should definitely consult a doctor. But if you’re feeling blue over series of unfortunate incidents seemingly designed by the universe to initiate you, before you start asking, “Thank you sir, may I have another?” you may want to switch back to your rose color glasses. You see, perspective is 90% of reality. But how do you change your perspective when the outlook is so gloomy. The most important part is to admit you’re in a rut. If you don’t think your mood or attitude need an adjustment then there’s nothing else to be said and reading this may just be for entertainment purposes or comic relief. But once you realize that you no longer want to feel blue you can start brightening up your own day.
- First become aware of your negative thinking pattern. If you find yourself thinking in absolutes you have fallen in a mental trap. Absolutes are thoughts like, “I never do anything right”, “Things always go wrong” or “Nobody cares.” Those statements are simply not true and those thoughts will taint your perspective on everything as if wearing colored glasses. While it may be hard when you’re feeling pessimistic you need to come up with exceptions by thinking of times when things went right or when you did something that made you feel proud. Once you realize that your thinking pattern is making you focus on the negative regardless of how small the negative may be you can do something about it to change it.
- Next you need to find a positive to counter every negative. The same way you can find the negative with a fine tooth comb you can find the positive, you just have to make a choice. Switch your dark colored glasses to some bright yellow ones. Someone once gave me a card that read, “do not curse the rose because it has thorns, but bless the thorns because they have roses.” Instead of thinking of all the things you haven’t yet accomplished or all the things that have gone wrong, start listing all the things that have gone right. Make a list of all the positive things in your life, the things you are proud of, things that make you smile. Every time a negative thought creeps into your mind pick up your list.
- Surround yourself with positive people. If you’re struggling with alcoholism you’re not going to hang out at a bar, in the same way if you’re trying to improve your outlook in life you’re not going to hang out with negative people that will bring you down. Take a close look at your circle of friends; misery loves company so make sure that you’re not keeping it company in your friendships. Think of friendships in layers, only keep encouraging and trust worthy people within your inner circle. Personally I even stay away from movies that will bum me out and I like to get flowers to brighten my apartment.
While these things are neither rocket science nor a clinical prescription to instant happiness, understanding how your thinking pattern affects your emotions is the beginning to doing something about it. Your thinking determines your perspective, which will influence your emotions and affect your actions. Once you are able to get your mind under control you will be able to get yourself out of an emotional rut. According to philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson “A man is what he thinks about all day long” so when you’re tired of feeling blue, make up your mind to add a little color to your life.