5 Things for Getting Through When You’re Feeling Really Down
What you resists persists. Carl Jung
It may seem counter-intuitive, but after a certain amount of distraction necessary to meet your daily obligations, further complete distractions however adaptive or dysfunctional, and yet effective, will prolong your suffering. The only way out of these feelings is through. That means letting yourself feel them fully without trying to escape. You don’t need to do this for hours or days on end, that will become over-whelming and counterproductive, but they do need to have some time to just be there, because they are there anyway, whether you want them to be or not. Take this time to figure out what they are trying to say to you. Embrace those messages and yourself fully with compassion and understanding. When you feel that the work is done then you can just let them be there without overthinking, over -analyzing, or resisting. Just note the sensations, where they are, how they feel, and let them be. That is the best way to let them go…
And be sure to give yourself time. Who knows how long you are going to need to snap out of this. It may be longer than last time, or not as long — no matter. Give yourself the time — if you don’t it will just make things more difficult. Remember the only way out is through, all the way through…
Avoid the Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda game…
Would you kick a friend when they are down? Would you kick your enemy when they are down? The second option is debatable but I’m sure you get my point. Avoid, at all costs, kicking yourself when you’re down. Thoughts like “I could have done this sooner”, “I should have tried that”, “If only they would have I would have” are nothing more than hindsight. It is true that hindsight is twenty-twenty but it does little to enhance the present. When you find yourself tormenting yourself with thoughts like these, it is important to do what you can to get present and stay present. That means staying out of the future too with thoughts like “Next time I’ll be sure to…” and so on and so forth. Your peace and your power are always in the present. Right now you need to find your center and find your sense of peace. It is in the present and it is in a quiet mind. Practice mindfulness throughout the day. Set a bell on your smart phone to remind you once or twice an hour to come back to the present. And be sure to meditate to find some peace and silence, and to find yourself within the pain. Your true self will always be there waiting for you. Take a nice long rest in this space and revive.
This too shall pass.
I realize that this adage may sound as cliche as can be, but it is true and it is wise. I cannot promise you that you won’t feel this bad or worse ever again. But what I can promise you is that at some point you will feel better.
Take some time to observe your thoughts in your mind and your feelings and emotions as sensations in your body. Notice how quickly even they pass, lasting often less than ten seconds each. Really take the time to do this and you will find encouragement.
Even as you cry notice that it rarely continues for more than a half hour or so. For those of you afraid to cry hold onto this thought and do your best to let go and let those tears come. Even if you think you might not be able to stop crying once you start, you will most definitely at some point be able to stop. Crying is the best way to release the pain and you will find that you feel a much-earned and much-deserved sense of relief after doing so.
Reconsider Buddhism’s 4 Noble Truths
- All life includes periods of suffering.
- Suffering exists from attachment and desires.
- Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases.
- Freedom from suffering is possible from practicing the Eightfold Path.
You don’t need to practice the Eightfold Path to benefit from these Noble Truths. You don’t need to give up all attachment or desire either. What is suggested is to consider how our extreme attachments and desires cause us pain. If we hold things more lightly, wherein we are content with what arrives and not so distraught by what doesn’t, or what departs, we will not suffer as extremely as when we deny that our human lives are characterized by impermanence. Things change, we change, people come into our lives and depart, the same with opportunities, the same with problems. There will always be pain when we lose what we cherish, or fail to achieve what we desire, but suffering arises from our resistance to this fact of life. We can’t escape the pain, but we can ease the pain by avoiding the suffering that comes with clinging and resisting. Hold all things lightly, and you will have peace at all times, even when you’re feeling down.
Do all things soothing.
This recommendation comes straight from me and basically means that until you feel better, don’t worry about the things that can wait. Put them on hold. Until you feel better do only what makes you feel calm, and soothed, nurtured, and taken care of. This will be unique to you of course. If you have a hard time thinking of what sorts of things this might be, imagine a perfect parent coming along and giving you exactly what you need right now — what would those things be? Then give those things to yourself. For me its a lot of reading and eating things I ate when I was little. And in pajamas of course. For another it might be a day or so playing video games. For another person it might be a weekend getaway or a day on the golf-course, a day with the kids or a day volunteering. Whatever is going to feed your soul is what you need to give to yourself. And whatever you do, be sure to feel entitled to it because you absolutely are…
If you are feeling so down that you are not able to meet your daily obligations and/or you are contemplating harming yourself or suicide, please immediately contact me, another helping professional, your nearest hospital emergency room, or a trusted friend or family member for help. You may dial 911 to obtain help or a phone number for a crisis line as well.
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Thanks for reading — I’m Susan Rotella. I’m a Registered Professional Counsellor specializing in mindfulness based and psychodynamic approaches to counselling and psychotherapy. I practice online, via e-mail, at4peaceofmind.co. I also work in family law and am author of the eBookPeace of Mind for Custody and Divorce: A Modern Woman’s Guide to Transcending Family Law Disputes. I also publish a free daily e-mail newsletter Perspectives 4PeaceOfMind that you’re welcome to sign up for. I enjoy helping others identify and commit to their own unique values, talents, and passions to live happy, meaningful and peaceful lives. You can contact me to work with you on a single contact, short- or long-term basis, or to write for your blog or online publication. I look forward to hearing from you!