10 First Steps To Getting Out Of The Funk You Can't Make Sense Of

by Chiko Villarreal
Julia Forsman

It's simple, right? When the the proverbial sh*t hits the fan, the expectation is for you to pick yourself up and press on through the tough times. You pick this message up somewhere along the way to adulthood. You nod in understanding, and go about in your naiveté.

If you've been there, you understand the crushing sense of despair when it all blows up in your face. Maybe you've lost a job or a loved one. Or maybe you're struggling with the reality of life not going according to plan. Whatever the case, the following steps have helped me deal with all of the above:

1. Stay grateful.

A lot of people hate the "It could always be worse" perspective. But if it's flipped in a positive sense, it's got some validity.

That is to say, sure. Somewhere, there is someone who is struggling with something harder. But this is not that.Your journey is not this person's, and how you deal with difficulties in your life shouldn't be compared to anyone else's experiences.

The focus should be on the positive. Be grateful for the good in your life, no matter how big or small it is. Food, shelter, family, friends or simply the fact that you woke up and have another chance to live the life you've dreamed of are all sources for that light at the end of the tunnel.

Find yours and appreciate it.

2. Have a goal and work toward it.

There's nothing more fulfilling than purpose. It excites that feeling in you that makes you want to get up and try for something you want. Call it motivation, inspiration, divine intervention: whatever you want.

Pinpoint what you want or need in your life, and acknowledge the steps it takes to get it. This is the difference between living and its unwelcome alternative.

If you've forgotten what that feels like, think back to how hard you tried to get your first crush's attention, or when you knew you'd get something special for those good grades, even if that something special was just the satisfaction of your accomplishment.

Challenge yourself with something small, like waking up an hour earlier than normal. This will give you an extra hour to choose what your next challenge will be.

3. Create positive triggers.

We're all creatures of habit, whether we think so or not. Things excite our senses and trigger specific reactions. They are sometimes physical and sometimes emotional.

Beyond our senses, our thoughts excite those same reactions. Some might see rain and automatically associate it with a lazy, unproductive day.  Another person who is going through a tough time might associate that rain with someone he or she has lost.

There's nothing wrong with kicking your feet up now and again. Emotional strain is a normal response. But what if you didn't have to feel that way?

By simply acknowledging our response to these senses and thoughts, we're all capable of conditioning our reactions to them. Imagine seeing rain and saying, "This haze will not slow me down," or thinking of the one you've lost while still realizing how much stronger and wiser you've become since working through the pain.

Creating positive responses to negative thoughts, surroundings or emotions is one of the most powerful skills you can learn in order to help you press on.

4. Don't dwell.

This one's simple but vital. We must acknowledge the past and learn from our mistakes. But we also need to hurry the f*ck up and move the hell on.

The time we spend thinking about what we should or shouldn't have done keeps us from doing what we need to be doing: i.e,  focusing on the road ahead.

5. Forget what "they" think.

It's no one's direct intention to hold you back. Maybe you have a friend or relative who subconsciously wants you to fail in order to boost his or her own ego. But the most common cause for all these people expressing their opinions about your life is the fact that they, for some reason, think they know what's best for you.

Your own discretion is needed here to decide who you choose to listen to, but making decisions about your life based on other's opinions has a crippling effect. We should all be free to bask in this feeling of accomplishment when our choices lead to success, and we should all get the chance to learn from our own mistakes.

6. Find your routine.

Routine and repetition get such a bad rap. Yes, spontaneity is the spice of life, but over-seasoning anything is a great way to f*ck up the flavor.

In my own experience, routine saved my life. It gave me a foundation, and it made me a happier and healthier person.

The Internet is infested with morning routine tips and guidelines that will help you build a solid foundation. You can definitely find what works for you.

One step I'd highly recommend would be waking up between 5 am and 6 am.You'll feel like there's so much more time in the day. You'll feel way more accomplished than the slugs sleeping until 9 am or 10 am.

You'll be exhausted at a reasonable hour. Plus, what the hell are you doing up past midnight anyway?

7. Put yourself out there.

This one ties in with forgetting what anyone else thinks. Letting go of the fear that holds you back based on what others might say is the first step toward being free to take the risks you need to in order to succeed.

That's not to say your attempt won't end in complete failure and potential embarrassment. But the fear of failure shouldn't hold you back, either.

Taking those hits, salting your wounds and trying again is the only way for you to get tough enough to handle greatness.

8. Take pride in your wins.

This one is key. Acknowledge your victories, even the little ones. This will do wonders for your outlook.

If your goal was to wake up at 6 am and you did, then you've already proven to yourself you're capable of setting your mind toward something and achieving it.

Now, you can make it a habit and move on to your next challenge. There's no greater feeling or high than the one of accomplishment. Take it in.

Make it your addiction, and you can forget about money or fame. Accomplishing what you set out to do each day is the epitome of success.

9. Be present in each moment.

It's easy to get wrapped up in the motions, get lost in your routine or get obsessed with accomplishing the things you've set your mind to.

But none of it matters if you don't take in the little things around you. It's a cliche, but it really is all about the journey. The only destination in life is death. Don't end life with a ton of regrets. Appreciate the moments because in the end, they're all we have.

10. Remember: It's just life.

I can't say I came up with this one on my own. I don't remember where I read it, but the thought of lightening up and taking each day as it comes has changed my life forever.

It takes some time, but once you learn to let go of everyone else's expectations and remind yourself that every challenge, every win or loss, and every ounce of joy and pain is what it's all about, you really get to start living.