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Last Updated on June 11, 2019

How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life

How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life

Part of the human condition seems to require us to get in a funk from time to time. We find ourselves in a state of uncertainty, confusion, overwhelm, apathy… whatever the flavor your funk personally takes, it isn’t pleasant.

These periods can last for days, weeks, months, and even years. They come unannounced. Sometimes we can rationalize our misaligned mood with external events, other times we can’t make sense of it. It simply is.

Whilst this guide isn’t promising a quick-fix solution to a state like this, it does aim to provide you with a beacon of hope: some tools and strategies you can implement starting today, that can support you and ultimately help you to get out of a funk and take control of life again.

Let’s take a look at how to get out of a funk and take control of life:

1. Acknowledge It

Before even attempting to dive in with any of these suggestions, it’s well worth taking the time to acknowledge the funk you’re in. This step alone will help create distance, as you give the funk some airtime and remember that it does not define you. It’s just a passing state.

Give yourself the space to feel into it. You might give it through words, music or art. You might play a song that captures your mood. Whatever you do, acknowledge that this is a temporary state of being, it too shall pass, and you are certainly not alone in this experience.

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2. Define the Problem

In some cases, the actual problem or reason for our funk is clear: we’ve split up from our partner, lost our job, been let down in some way. In other cases, there doesn’t appear to be a real reason for our malaise. On paper, everything is just fine… isn’t it?

It’s well worth questioning how ‘fine’ things really are, and remembering that just because you haven’t lost a limb, doesn’t mean you have to accept your circumstances with a cheery smile. Everyone’s experience is relative to them, and no one needs to justify the funk they’re in.

Instead, you can use what feels like a negative experience as a signal pointing you to something that fundamentally needs your attention. Maybe your job seems fine on paper, but those snarky comments from a co-worker are taking their toll on you. Maybe the lack of appreciation your family is showing you has gone on for too long now.

Spend some quiet time reflecting on the possible problems causing your funk, and make sure to write them down or record your thoughts in some way. This will make them easier to grapple with, and ultimately take you one step further towards making a change that could turn your whole situation around.

3. Meditate

As much as the internet may try to tell you ‘meditation is for everyone’, I personally won’t claim that to be the case. However, I do think it’s worth trying – at least once.

It also might seem like the last thing you want to do when you’re in a funk: it might feel far easier to numb out and binge watch your favourite TV series.

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The reason meditation is so effective for getting through these times is to remind ourselves of one thing:

We are not our thoughts.

If it’s our thoughts that are causing our funk, then knowing this to be true can be a huge relief.

Rather than setting the bar too high, I encourage you to set a timer for just five minutes. Sit in a comfortable position, with your spine relatively aligned and your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes if that’s comfortable for you. Begin to connect with your breath: possibly noting silently to yourself ‘in’ on the inhale, and ‘out’ on the exhale. When your mind wanders, as it will, do your best not to berate yourself for it and bring your attention gently back to your breath.

Even though you might not come out of your reverie feeling problem-free, it is a practice which, over time, can help deal with any storm in the sea of the mind.

4. Move Your Body

Whilst the root of our issues may be in our mind, it’s worth not forgetting the body. Endorphins are produced through exercise, and help us cope with stress and even relieve pain.[1]

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Going for a run is a way that some people get out of funks, but if running isn’t for you, brisk walking or other physical disciplines can all help your body to create those happy hormones.

If you think you’re too busy for exercises, here’re 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

5. Connect with a Loved One

It can be tempting to isolate yourself when under the influence of a funk, but this is the last thing we need.

In connecting with others, we get to share the burden we’re struggling under. Having another person simply to listen, or distract us from any external problems, can be enough to bring us out of a funk.

When you notice you’re in a bad mood, think of someone who makes you laugh or simply feel safe. Whatever you do, try not to isolate yourself at this time.

6. Write a Gratitude List

At first, you may struggle to think of something to be grateful for, and your mood may even take an initial nose dive at the first attempt of this task. However, this is the exact inner environment that the gratitude list thrives on, if you give it a chance.

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It’s an exercise that encourages you to seek out the parts of your life that don’t suck. At first, it might be as mundane as ‘a working washing machine’ or ‘the sound of rain.’ Like with all of these practices, the more we return to them, the stronger the effect in the long run.

A regular gratitude practice, for example at the beginning or end of each day, can actually train the mind to spot more instances of positive aspects in our lives. Not only can this be a great pick-me-up if we’re in the depths of a funk, but it can also help combat future slumps we may have found ourselves in otherwise.

If you need some inspirations for your gratitude list, here’re 60 Things To Be Thankful For In Life.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes it feels like time is zooming by, leaving us behind. But you’re capable of getting out of a funk.

By acknowledging your emotions and problems, and actively taking actions to change up your thoughts, you will take control of your life again.

More About Motivation

Featured photo credit: Luis Flores via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Cat Neligan

Host of the Creative Introvert Podcast, helping introverts everywhere live a life they love on their terms

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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