I used to be really bad at dealing with funks. I would succumb to them, disappear into my bedroom, turn off the lights, and watch TV in the dark for days.
Thankfully, I tended to turn on The Comedy channel at 2 am to watch stand up and re-runs of Whose Line is It Anyway?. I quickly learned that laughter is really the best medicine for funks. While this didn't always chase away the funk, it eased the pain.
I was a champion Funk Wallower. My sleepless nights bathed in the eerie glow of the TV lead me to the dark side: anger, depression, fear, anxiety, lashing out.
It was a self-perpetuating cycle. As the depression sunk in, I spent more sleepless nights soaking in the bad thoughts, which fed the feels... I went down some scary-ass rabbit holes, ones I thought I'd never climb out of.
Soooo...what did I do when that happened? Well, besides getting some professional help, which I HIGHLY recommend if you think you might be clinically depressed or battling with more than your garden variety anxiety, I stumbled upon an unconventional process for when the funk got it's claws in me. I say "unconventional" because the general advise I got was to ignore it. Get up, go about your day, exercise, eat right, and whenever the bad thoughts came along, quickly think about something else.
And while that worked a little bit some of the time, it was by no means the solution.
Through literal trial and error, I figured out four steps to deal with a funk that won't go away. This was quite the experiment over the years, let me tell you. It wasn't a straight line or obvious at first. And the last step was, well, the LAST step that finally broke the cycle and it's a doozy.
It changed everything for me.
But now I know. And now YOU will too. You don't have to be a prisoner of the funk. You can escape and here's how:
STEP 1: FEEL ITSometimes, a funk needs to be felt. Seriously. I have a tendency to push the uncomfortable feelings aside when I'm busy getting shit done. I have kids, a dog, a hubs, a job, a house, this blog, a LIFE to deal with. But feelings don't work that way. You can't just push them aside day after day and not experience repercussion.
Picture an overflowing garbage can in your kitchen. You can only push it down so many times before the lid falls off because its so jam-packed (I'm looking at you, my teenage son). Think of your emotions this way. They don't always just disappear when you don't want to feel them. They often get thrown in a mental receptacle waiting for you to take out the trash. If you don't, it starts to stink, the lid won't keep it in anymore, and voila! You've just created a funk!
So, now what? Now, you feel it. You find some time to go for a walk, sit alone in your room, and unpack that mess. I use a walking meditation technique that isn't as fancy as it sounds. All I do is start walking in and start paying attention to the way I feel physically which always leads to how I'm feeling emotionally. When the emotion starts to flow, I let it.
This is different from wallowing because I observe the feeling without judging. Well, I try not to judge. I'm still learning how to feel and not make judgment statements about how I feel. I know I'm judging when I say things to myself like "I shouldn't feel this way?" or "I hate feeling this way!" There's no "should" in feelings. You feel what you feel. End of story.
It's neither right nor wrong to feel any certain way. The way you and I feel is based on our thoughts and beliefs. Punishing ourselves for feeling a certain way doesn't help; it's what causes funks in the first place.
Feel it. Don't judge it. Don't push the feeling away.
STEP 2: EXPRESS IT
Once the feeling gets rolling I usually cry or yell or draw or write. If I'm on a walking meditation I sometimes run my ass off and have even been known to jump up and down on big, fallen branches out in the woods. Oh yeah, I have. I've also demolished the stack of cardboard boxes by the outside trash cans, busted up scrap wood, and have even swung an ax chopping up kindling. It's satisfying, but shouldn't really be done in a fit of rage, if you know what I mean.
I've even smashed glass bottles against cement blocks, but I don't' recommend this unless you put some heavy duty plastic sheets around the area or else you'll be grumbling under your breath as you painstakingly clean up after yourself.
And then make sure you use your big brain and articulate how you're feeling. Explaining as best you can to yourself, write it down preferably. If you have a friend or family member you trust implicitly, tell them how you feel. Getting it off your chest is huge.
Whatever you do to express your feelings keep these safety regs in mind:
- Do not take your feelings out on other living beings. Ever.
- If you feel the need to break things, make sure it's your stuff and preferably something you were going to throw out anyway. Believe me, it's much more satisfying to bust up the old Lazy Boy you were taking to the dump anyway than the new dining room chair you just spend $200 on.
- Be safe. Always.
- Articulate exactly what you're feeling to the best of your ability. All the physical crying, slamming, yelling, wailing, and smashing is helpful, but it doesn't satisfy the human need for understanding. We need this part the most.
STEP 3: UNDERSTAND IT
This step is vital. So are the others, but this step must happen or you are doomed to repeat the funk cycle. Every time you cycle around to the funk, it is an invitation to TAKE OUT THE TRASH. FEeling the feels and expressing them has to happen, but if you don't figure out why the funk happened in the first place, you will find yourself right back here, knee deep in the trash compactor waiting to be crushed.
After all the yelling and crying, you'll need a break. Maybe a shower, a cup of tea, or a little exercise. Then get out a notepad or a journal and ask yourself why you feel this way. Don't overthink it. Just write. You'll be surprised at what comes out.
Pen not flowing? Get out your Tarot deck and pull a card. Write about the card for ten minutes. What thoughts and feelings do the images invoke? You'll also be surprised what will come to the surface. Often times, if we dig a little we'll find a limiting belief is surfacing, something we believe on a subconscious level that is interfering with our goals, our dreams, or just our happiness.
After you've explored the reason you feel this way, ask yourself "What do I get out of holding on to this thought or belief?" Write for a good 10 minutes. Again, if you get stuck, pull a Tarot card and keep going.
The last part is to write a clear, succinct sentence or two about why you felt the way you do. Get really clear because that's the only way to rewrite it.
Which is the next step.
STEP 4: REWRITE IT
You fell into a funk because of a thought or a belief about what was happening in your life. If you don't want to get lost in the dark, you have to rewrite it. You have to update your programming. Feelings are symptoms of thoughts and beliefs, not the other way around. I know that seems backwards but it's true.
We feel a certain way THEN the dark thoughts come, right? But underlying the initial feeling is a subconsious thought or belief. It's hidden under the dark waters of our unconscious mind, so when the emotion surfaces like a white shark leaping out of the dark depths it can feel terrifyingly sudden, as if it came out of no where.
But sharks can't live without ocean, and your feelings can't live without thoughts. And the thoughts are what you unconvered in Step 3. Now, you're going to change those thoughts. This is an ongoing process and takes time. It might not happen overnight. But then again, I have uncovered limiting beliefs and once they saw the light of day they POOFED away like a vampire in the sun.
When that doesn't happen, we have to work at it a little bit. So here's what you do: rewrite the limiting belief or thought in a positive way that helps you instead of hurts you. I literally write these on a 3x5 index card. Limiting thought on one side, helpful thought on the other.
Here's an example.
Limiting thought: I am afraid of failing because I will let my family down.
Helpful thought: Every time I try something new, I learn something new and build my skills. This will help me take care of my family.
Or whatever you would find lifts you out of the fog.
This does take some practice. You might find you need to rewrite the helpful thought a few times before it starts to work. I carry my index card with me wherever I go. Whenever the feeling that put me in the funk starts to surface, I know my old programming has kicked in. I stop, get out my index card and flip the script to the Helpful Thought: Every time I try something new, I learn something new and build my skills. This will help me take care of my family.
ANd if you find youself in a funk again? Repeat the steps.
Ultimately, funks are an invitation to make better choices about what you think and believe. Within the funk is the seed of opportunity to change your life for the better. You can get lost in your funk or you can get on with your funk.
It's your choice.
Do you want some help getting out of your funk? Are you ready to create a life you truly love by mixing spiritual practices with hardcore science and proven psychological strategies? Then join my private Facebook group The Karma Couch Connection. We're a tribe of heart-led, spirit-fed practical souls supporting each other to not only feel better, but to embrace our true Selves and live inspired lives. CLICK HERE TO REQUEST TO JOIN MY PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP