It happens to all of us. We’re merrily tripping along, buying pretty folders and wearing funny shark hats, and BAM!
A string of texts that make your stomach churn.
A call from someone who implies, ever so politely, that you are toe scum.
A misunderstanding, a canceled flight, or a small frustration that just throws you for a loop.
You know you should let it go. Rise above. Question your limiting thoughts. Be the grown-up.
BUT YOU JUST CAN’T.
So then, on top of whatever’s going on, you feel like a total loser, someone Gandhi would have kicked out of meditation class because of your bad breath and terrible personality.
I suck. There’s something wrong with me. I always screw it up. I’ll never get it right. I’m mortified. Everyone thinks I’m awkward.
And, worst of all,
Why do I even try when it’s all so hopeless and my jeans are too tight?
This happens to me too. The other day I went on Facebook and in quick succession saw an old boyfriend who lives with his beautiful wife in an actual villa; a Tokyo friend showing her bronzed, toned body in a bikini on a sunny beach; and a radiant acquaintance who just got engaged to the love of her life.
I was so, so happy for them.
Whistle whistle. Yup, I bless their happiness.
Oh, all right, fine. That statement is not exactly accurate.
The truth is, SOME parts of me really were happy for them, but SOME parts of me were curled up in a ball on a bare slab of concrete, too full of sadness and self-loathing to even cry.
This might sound dramatic, but when you’re caught in a funk, that’s how it feels.
EVERYONE ELSE is just good at relationships. EVERYONE ELSE is manifesting big checks that arrive effortlessly in the mail. EVERYONE ELSE gets to have loving and supportive partners who buy them expensive jewelry, surprise them with romantic trips to exotic locations, and enjoy doing dishes and co-parenting in between great sex and deep conversations.
Everyone except horrible unlovable pasty me. (Can you believe I’m telling you this? But it’s true! Even life coaches feel like shit sometimes! The ones who don’t admit it are lying!)
In the grip of a funk it seems we are destined for a life of mediocrity, of striving and failing, of meager and embarrassing hopes.
Hee hee hee. It sounds so silly when I type it out, but my mind TOTALLY goes there.
I hope that yours never does, but if you too have days when you feel about as terrific as imitation crab meat, read on.
Here’s how to get out of a funk.
1. Don’t fight it. Don’t try to be more enlightened than you are, and don’t pretend you feel great when you feel shitty. Let those embarrassing, awful, nauseating emotions be there. They may feel like churning in your belly, or an iron fist in your throat, or tears seeping out of your eyes. Make room for them. This is counter-intuitive, but if you give the feelings room to be seen and acknowledged, they can start to MOVE.
2. Move your physical body. Go for a walk, throw some punches, put on some music and dance. Do a few yoga poses; they’re great for letting your body release what’s stuck. Imagine you are using the movement to help your body process and release those big emotions. Picture the sadness pouring off you like sweat. Imagine your muscles squeezing out every last bit of shame. Pretend that you are sending everything icky down through the bottom of your feet into the earth.
3. Then, take a minute to be quiet. If you can, wrap your arms or a blanket around yourself; a sweater will do nicely.
4. After a moment of quiet, choose who you’re going to be today, in light of the fact that you’re having kind of a hard time. Some days you might be Gandalf, Epic Fucking Bad Ass, but other days you might only be Hilda, a minor hobbit who didn’t even make it into the books but was nonetheless known for kindness and integrity.
Sometimes you’ll find a powerful aspect of yourself is ready to rise up and face whatever’s next. Other days the best you can do will be to keep yourself company, like a gentle and loyal friend. The latter can be pretty damn wonderful.
5. Do something physical to demarcate that you are deliberately stepping into this new feeling state. Put on perfume, or light a candle, or go get a cup of coffee. Straighten your desk, or sharpen a pencil, or put a post-it on your phone that says “You can do this.” Don’t underestimate the power of simple physical actions; when done with attention and heart, they can be powerful rituals.
And just know that however much in a funk you are, I’ve been there too.
But we don’t have to stay there.
In fact, right now I feel pretty damn terrific. And I’m just as pasty, my waist size hasn’t changed, and neither has anything else in my life.
But I changed on the inside. I used my energy, my decisions, and my body to shift the way I felt. And you can do it too.
Two important notes about this: Dearheart. The steps above only work if you actually DO them. It doesn’t have to be complicated; you can do them all sitting in your office chair, in less then five minutes. Try them.
Also: if you can’t shift a funk for hours and days and weeks, it’s not a funk; it’s a depression. Find a good therapist who can help you, ok?
May all your funks end in laughter, and may all your shitty days end with a true win.*
*I wrote a little personal blog post the other day about what winning really looks like to me; if you want a more intimate glimpse of my most recent shitty day and how it turned out, check that out here.
P.S. Funks are easier to manage when your desk looks pretty. This is my workspace refurbished for 2014. Sometimes it’s the little things, darling. They HELP.