The absence of visible light. The polar opposite of brightness. That miserable blackness that makes it difficult to make out what truly lies in front of you. Dark shadows where your eyes play tricks on you, making you believe you see one thing, when in fact it is nothing at all. A deep abyss where you lose all sense of direction, not knowing which way is left or right, up or down, right from wrong, despair from hope. Yup, that’s right we’re referring to darkness.
This word it isn’t just an adjective to describe a condition of physical space – no we’re referring to a feeling, mentality, and in some cases a physical discomfort. Today we’re shining a light on darkness of the mind, soul, and spirit. We’ve all been there: the loss of a loved one; the rejection of a new job opportunity, the dismissal of what a carefully thought out suggestion; the refusal of significant other, friend or colleague, the complete destruction of a well-thought out plan.
For us, this year didn’t exactly start out according to plan, we’re experiencing some of that darkness, despair, and loss right now. Not only did we lose our beloved pet fish Skeeter this past week, but one of us is grieving the loss of a job due to the elimination of positions. Somber questions like, “Why me?” or “How can this be happening?” or even “When is this going to end?” have been uttered these last couple week. Feelings of inadequacy, failure, insufficiency, and weakness have filled our household.
It may sound silly, but experts and science agree – this experience can affect self-worth, a person’s view of justice and even trust in society and humanity as a whole (Lam, The Atlantic, 2015). We both are the types of individuals that put worth in the work we do every day. Needless to say this is not an easy thing to cope with, and this has been a roller coaster of emotions ranging from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. One day can be filled with call backs, interviews, and viewed applications. That can all change in less than 24 hours; rejections, rescheduled phone screens, and silence can fill one’s day. And silence can sometimes be your worst enemy and leave yourself vulnerable to the despair and dark thoughts can start to creep in: “How will I afford rent in the next 3 months?” “How do I avoid the pity stares and feelings of ‘less’ from overtaking my everything thought?” “How will I ever be able to enjoy the pleasures of travel, nights out with friends, concerts, or retail therapy again?”
And my friends, here is your answer to it all: Stay motivated. Plain and simple, stay motivated. Keep going and moving, peel yourself up off the floor, dry your tears with a box of tissues if you have to; just stay motivated. Now, we’re not telling you to avoid your feelings. If you want to cry, open the flood gates. If you don’t feel like getting out of bed at the exact moment your alarm goes off, stay in bed a little longer. If you feel like you need to throw something or punch a wall, go ahead and scream into that pillow and throw some air punches. But you have to keep moving. Pity and self-wallow are the two of the most dangerous feelings to let take hold of you. Talk about darkness, they will latch on if given the chance, and it will consume you.
The most important thing we have learned from all of this is that you are not alone. More people than you would think have dealt with a situation similar to yours. From this experience, we have compiled a few steps or coping methods that we would like to share with you. This list is by no means exhaustive and we are still searching for ways to help ourselves stay motivated, find the light, and move towards its source. We’d love to hear from you if you have other suggestions.
Three Tips to Staying Motivated
- Write it down, say it aloud, and get out of your own way: Believe it or not, we’ve always been big fans of writing (insert sarcastic comment about this being an obvious statement, hello we write our own blog). But this is one of the most therapeutic ways to deal with feelings that may be too dark or self-pitying to say to someone else.
- Write down what is bothering or limiting you. Make sure to write it all down, every dark, depressing thought you got. Write down what will happen if you don’t stay motivated, what is the worst case scenario?
- Say it out loud, validate these feelings to yourself. You have thoughts, it’s what makes you human.
- Now time to get out of your own way, write down the opposite of these self-limiting thoughts on a different piece of paper or in a different document. Really think about them, and what you want the outcome to be.
- Place the new list somewhere you will see it every day. Pretty soon, these new thoughts will turn into actions to get you to your desired outcome. But it won’t happen without work and more rejection, but it will get you to where you want to be.
- Self-love practices: You have two choices when it comes to the physical effect of dark times on your body. You can either turn to unhealthy methods like eating junk food and drinking more, or you can take this time to find the healthy ways to deal with your feelings. A few of ours are below:
- Yoga is your friend and it can be free. If you haven’t heard of Yoga with Adriene, now is your chance to become immersed in her magic. Her free Youtube flows are just the thing to start your day off right or release all of that negative energy at the end of the day.
- Try guided meditation. If you have a few extra dollars, think about purchasing Headspace. The guru’s relaxing voice makes the world melt away, and completely resets your mindset. And there are dozens of practices to try.
- Hit the gym. Had a frustrating day of highs and lows? Still not getting the traction you want? Efforts not reaping the results you want? Hit the treadmill, take a spin class, or one of our favorites, take a boxing class. We all know endorphins are released during physical exercise, so at the very least it will make you happy!
- Cook more. We’re telling you, there is something about chopping vegetables and methodically following a recipe that is soothing. Head over to Pinterest or your favorite food bloggers and find a couple that spark your interest.
- Turn to your network, both professional and personal: Talking to people helps. Call up your old boss to schedule coffee, message your old coworkers for a dinner or lunch date, hit up that old classmate that you’ve been meaning to reach out to. You know that networking group you’ve been telling yourself you’d join for months? Actually join. Talking to people and connecting to others is the best way to have doors open up.
We will keep you updated on our progress practicing our suggestions above, but as we previously stated, we would love to hear other methods you have tried. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.