As we officially enter the spring (aka British Summer Time) - yet ironically, my weather app is forecasting snow (!) - I find myself reflecting on new beginnings and fresh starts, rebirth and second chances.
And before we begin, I want to point out that this doesn’t always have to be a huge change like starting a new job, moving house or rebuilding yourself after a life-changing diagnosis. Fresh starts and new beginnings can happen in the everyday moments, the seemingly simple choices we make on a daily basis. The power, as you’ll see, is always in the present moment.
Ask yourself a question: when was the last time you felt stuck in a rut? Or felt like you were in a bit of a ‘funk’ - a bit ‘meh’? Can you remember how you got through it? To be clear, I’m not talking about full on clinical depression - that is a very different kettle of fish - I’m talking about the general low ebb that has a tendency to creep over us all at some point or another. If your ‘funk’ lasts for any significant length of time then I’d encourage you to seek help.
But if it’s just a general low ebb, how do you get past it? What strategies do you have in place to help you?
This happened to me recently, and I felt called to share my experience and insights with you. Now, I will also say, I have lived with depression for the last decade, and there have been some very dark points in my life that I’d rather forget, but what I’m talking about here is more of a continual oscillation from feeling quite normal (whatever that is!) and happy with life, and then sinking into a bit of a ‘funk’.
Step 1: Identifying the funk
It may seem obvious, but the first step in ‘unfunking’ yourself is identifying the funk in the first place! Sometimes it’s so subtle it can go unnoticed for quite some time. Look for telltale signs that you’re slipping into the quicksands of negative thinking. For me it usually starts with sighing a lot more than normal. Or being shorter tempered and less tolerant with EVERYONE, including the cats! Or using “all or nothing” language, for example, “it’s all my fault”, “I always do things like this!” or “I’m never going to be able to…”
For those of you who know me well, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of the American Office, and there’s this brilliant line in one episode where Andy Bernard says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” And I think this really resonates with me because I wish, too, that there was a way to know you’re in a temporary “valley of the shadow of death” and that it will pass soon enough. But when you’re in the doldrums, it can be hard to remember this!
So, as you notice the dark cloud descending upon you, try to take note of the kinds of thoughts and internal dialogue your mind throws up.
Write them down!
And then ask yourself, “Why am I thinking this particular thought? What’s behind this?”
Write that down.
Then ask, “Why is that?”
And then write that down...you get the idea!
Try to do this for at least 5 levels of ‘why’ to help you drill down to the core belief or experience that is driving your negative thinking patterns. Only when you’ve uncovered the truth can you begin to rebuild your mind on a solid foundation of liberating truths instead of on the quicksands of limiting beliefs.
Step 2: Tending to the garden of your mind
I recently attended a business conference where one of the speakers was talking about the power of our subconscious vs conscious thought. He used this beautiful analogy of the mind being like a garden full of weeds (negative thoughts), and that you need to regularly weed the garden of your mind, replant it with positive, empowering thoughts and water it well.
And you don’t just do it once! You need to keep weeding it and replanting it on a regular basis. You see, the negative thoughts are like those cunning little weeds that look like pretty wildflowers - seemingly innocuous, but left unchecked they can choke out the empowering thoughts and beliefs you want to keep growing.
Step 3: Taking inspired action
Something I like to practice each morning is 5-10 minutes of meditation and prayer. Often I find myself thinking about a person or a situation or an action I need to take to move forwards in a particular area of my life. I call this ‘inspired action’ because I already had the answer deep inside of me somewhere, I just had to quieten my mind for long enough to notice it and be inspired to take action. And the power is always in the present moment. You may have made a bad decision in the past, or believed the negative lies your subconscious tells you about yourself, but right NOW, you have the power to make a better decision and to choose more helpful, empowering thoughts.
Let me say that once more - because it’s really important:
The power is always in the present moment.
I’m a big believer in trying something different. If you feel stuck, in any area of your life, and you don’t know how to move forward, then do something different. Sometimes the simple act of trying something new is enough to shake you out of your funk and reinvigorate your motivation.
You know the old adage:
“If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.”
Well it’s true! So my challenge to you, whoever you are and whatever role you play in helping those living through the cancer experience, is to try something new this week.
My top tips for unfunking your funk
What NOT to do
When you’re on a low ebb and you’re feeling particularly ‘meh’, then trying to push through it and telling yourself to snap out of it isn’t, in my opinion, particularly helpful or fruitful. Rather, I think it’s more helpful to listen to your body and be kind to yourself. Rest if you need to rest. Get moving if you need to energise your body. Drink water to keep yourself well hydrated and reduce the ‘brain fog’. Avoid alcohol - no matter how much you think it’ll make you feel better, it won’t. It’ll only enhance the mood you’re already in, so if you’re feeling low, you’ll only end up feeling lower.
7 Days of Journaling Through Cancer Into Clarity and Calm
As you’ve no doubt seen on social media, on Saturday morning (30 March) I decided to give away a 7-day journaling guide that I’d created for patients. This was something I created as an additional download for students of my course, Clarity on Cancer, but I felt prompted to give it away for free to anyone following me on social media to give to their patients or clients, or indeed to friends or loved ones who are living with and beyond cancer. You can get your hands on it here.
One more thing!
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