You’re in a rut.
Maybe you were dumped by your dream girl. Fired from your job. Or fail again and again at your personal, career or life goals.
Nothing seems to go your way. As losses piles on in a never-ending cycle of misery…
You ask yourself, “Why even wake up in the morning?”
When you’re in a slump, life can seem hopeless. You may be so buried in self doubt, depression or despair that you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
But what if there was a step-by-step process to dig yourself out?
When life gets tough, I’ve used a simple method to pull myself out of the gutter and move forward. And here’s how you can do the same, too.
1. Purposefully ignore the problem
If you know there’s a problem, why ignore it?
The reason is simple.
You gotta destress. Take your mind off it and—though it sounds a bit woo—let your subconscious go to work. Often when I deal with overwhelming adversity, I just walk away…sometimes for a few days.
Once you blow off steam with some relaxation or fun, and your emotions settle, then you can face the problem with a fresh mind and revitalized energy.
You may be surprised how much easier you can resolve a crushing blow in a calm, clear-headed state.
2. Name your worst nightmare
The root cause of any problem is often elusive.
But usually fear is the prime culprit. And you’ll have to confront it to move forward.
The truth is, you can’t overcome what you can’t see. And one way to drag your fear out of the shadows is to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Literally name your worst nightmare and give a fair percentage to its likelihood. Often, the chances of it occurring are incredibly small. And knowing this puts your so-called catastrophe in perspective.
But what happens when the blow is very real and the road to recovery is so long there’s no end in sight?
3. When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, imagine it
Sometimes a blow is so devastating that once you walk away, refresh and even name your nightmare, hope is nowhere to be found. The light at the end of the tunnel is so far you can’t see it.
I’ve been there.
And it’s a horrible, horrible feeling.
But there’s only one thing to do—imagine the light, the life you wish to walk toward.
When you recover, what will it look like?
How will you feel? What people will be in your life? What experiences will you have?
If you’re going to recover, you need to see where you’re going. And sometimes that place only exists in your imagination.
4. Teach yourself how to recover, before you need to recover
Walking blind is scary.
Which is why you need to improve yourself before dark circumstances occur. Because bad times in life are inevitable.
Positive habits created before a disaster, can propel you forward when the going gets tough.
Soul crushing blow or not, a firmly rooted meditation or exercise routine will stick with you during trying times. They’ll be a well-needed sanctuary that puts life in perspective.
Meditation and exercise, however, aren’t the only healthy habits that can support you during dark days. A healthy diet, weekly date night with your significant other or regular walks in nature can be well-needed stress relievers.
5. Block future soul-crushing blows
The truth is, some soul crushing blows are unavoidable.
If a close friend dies suddenly, you get divorced or are diagnosed with cancer, there isn’t much you can do to avoid hopelessness (at least temporarily). Very bad things happen.
But in many cases—like a sudden job loss, breakup or big failure—you can bounce back quickly and easily.
“Diversify” or “Spread your risk” is common advice in business. And this same wisdom can apply to life in general.
If you lose your job but have an emergency savings plan, you’ll be okay. If you’re dumped, but have a life brimming with friends, hobbies and personal goals, you’ll recover quicker.
In other words, your life is balanced.
When one piece of it disappears, the others give you a sense of normalcy/security.
So choose to take care of the whole person you are — relationships, health money, etc.— and most soul-crushing blows, won’t seem so soul crushing.
6. Transform the ugliest tragedies into beauty
A few years back, Hal Elrod, the bestselling author of The Miracle Morning, was diagnosed with cancer and given a 30% chance of survival.
Most people would fall into despair hearing such news.
But Elrod chose to learn from the situation. He used his diagnosis as way to realign his priorities with what mattered most.
Hal always said “family is the most important thing” in life. But he didn’t see how he prioritized work over his loved ones, until he was sick—cancer jolted the truth into focus. Now he works less, choosing instead to spend several hours of quality time with his family every single day.
Mo Gawdat, the author of Solve for Happy was also dealt a horrifying blow: his 21-year-old son unexpectedly died during a routine operation.
Like Elrod, Gawdat could’ve just given up on life. But instead, he used this tragedy to be a force for good. He wrote a book about his personal transformation from searching for happiness in the external world to discovering it inside, using his engineering background to create a roadmap to happiness.
Mo’s Mission is to help 1 billion people become happier.
Both these authors chose to transform the worst imaginable circumstances into something beautiful. And they serve as an example of how we can ignite hope in even our darkest hours.
The first glimmer of hope is sparked in your mind
When life becomes bleak, self loathing is easy.
Drowning your sorrows in trash TV, the media’s endless stream of bad news, or booze is a simple escape.
Your hopelessness may seem too much to bear.
But realize that mental clarity is critical now because the worst demons that haunt you are in your mind. And to battle them, your head must be clear.
So walk away.
Take some time for yourself. Skip a few days of work if you can. Rest, relax or just have some carefree fun.
Trust me. With this simple action, the light of hope will spark. And will burn even brighter as you clarify the worst possible scenario, followed by the person you dream to become.
So pick yourself up.
Call up a friend. Go walk outside. Or simply sit still in peace and silence. Feel the joy inside you that is just happy to be alive. Your journey to the light starts right now.