“When you’re in a Slump,you’re not in for much fun.Un-slumping yourselfis not easily done.”
Put all your efforts in things that are under your control; the quality of your actions and deliberate thoughts. Practice indifference towards automatic thoughts and external events. Ask: “What aspects of this situation are under my direct control?”. Use the influence you have, in a positive way.
Do things with a reserve clause, and do not expect things to go your way. Say: “I will do thing X, fate permitting”.
Accept willingly all the things that are beyond your control.
Ask: “is it really that bad, is the worst-case scenario really going to happen?” See what things are in themselves, do not get caught up in appearances. Do not add value-judgement to things. Take the right action, do what needs to be done in this situation, without lamenting.
“The gherkin is bitter. Toss it away. There are briars in the path. Turn aside. That suffices, and thou needest not to add: Why are such things found in the world?” (Marcus Aurelius)
State your situation and your problems to yourself (and to others) in a simple matter-of-fact way. Say just the facts, recite only what has actually happened. Do not use emotive language.
Whatever it is, it will not last. Remember the transience of everything. Situations change. Every pain and humiliation will fade and eventually become completely irrelevant. The universe will die a heat death and there will be no-one to remember and nothing to be remembered.
Remind yourself that you can only act now that you live. You were “dead” for a very very long time. The grave will supply plenty of time for silence and inaction. Do not fear failure or death, fear not starting to live. It is urgent. Also, do not take yourself too seriously. In a while, you will be only a name, and soon after that, not even a name.
We have expectations. Life of others seems sometimes so interesting and full of adventure (it probably isn’t really…), that we may feel like we are missing out. Advertisements and popular culture sets the scene that life should be this or that. Everyone talks about “meaning” like there is some. Some at least seem to live a fulfilled magical life. Just lower your expectations. Be happy that you are alive now and that you have this day. Don’t expect things to be fabulous or amazing. Many problems will be solved by just doing this.
Remind yourself of things big or small to be grateful for. It is really hard to be bummed and grateful at the same time.
Imagine looking at the events through coloured spectacles (the spectacles of your opinions, values and judgements). Cognitive distance means looking at the spectacles, instead of looking through them. Speak to your impressions as if you would speak to another person. View your problem as if it was someone else’s. What would you advice them to do?
“What upsets people is not things themselves but their judgments about the things.” (Epictetus)
Realise that dealing with adversity, facing it head on, you become stronger and better. Prepare to face adversity, realise your potential to rise above it.
“Misfortune borne nobly is good fortune”
Get “downtime” daily by retreating to your own mind, having a brief moment of introspection, remembering the fundamentals; the dichotomy of control & the transience of everything. Build the “inner citadel” by using helpful dogmas, practice to become “like a rock against which the waves of fortune crash impotently”. Practice sitting mediation as taught by Buddhist and mindfulness teachers. Do not attempt to relax with drugs.
Imagine being lifted up to the sky and seeing all the life going on below you, in your hometown and in your country. Then higher and further so that you see the whole planet, then seeing the solar system, galaxy, etc. Get a broader perspective on humanity. Meditate on the vastness of time and space. Put your worries in perspective. Then return in your mind back to where you started, to your place, to your seat.
When we fear something, we actually think that what’s going to happen is so horrible we can’t handle it.
However, most of the time, should even the worst-case scenario take place, we would be able to recover from it. Many times it would not even be that bad, it just seems so when entering the anxiety-causing situation.
Example: You need to perform. You are nervous. You fear that your performance will be a disaster and you will be humiliated.
That is unlikely to happen.
Even if your performance actually was a disaster, people would probably not treat you like shit anyway.
They have messed things up too, right?
But. Even if they would treat you like shit and you would suffer a humiliation, you’d be fine after some time. You would recover. You would possibly even be stronger because of it, at least if you decide to look at the incident constructively and learn from it. You would not be destroyed forever.
That’s just the drama-queen doomsday-prophet inside you talking. Most of the time, you can handle the consequences of your actions.
Sages get scared and blush too, but what happens then? Who’s wise? Who’s brave? Who’s kind? Who’s got a self-control of solid steel? What would they do, faced with the situation you are in?
Describe the worry or troublesome situation with no emotive language, think of how to notice the signs, how to respond, “instead of doing , I will do , question your beliefs about the situation, rehearse responding.
Life has limitations. You can decide, in a given situation, if you want to have limitations set by you, or limitations set by circumstances and consequences. When you lack discipline, you are in the mercy of your own unhealthy passions. Searching your happiness from externals and from immediate pleasures will be disappointing and can lead to fear and addiction.
Endure and renounce! (Epictetus)
When you are in a rut, the fastest way to improve your situation is to take action. Stop the pondering and planning already, do something! “What should I do?”, you ask. Well, something positive.
Eat, sleep, exercise, meditate. If you are feeling off, make sure you got these right. They may not solve your problem but you need to be as strong as possible and here’s where it all starts. If you use intoxicants, stop.
Take time regularly (monthly?) to clarify what is most important to you. What kind of person you want to be. Contact your actions against this vision. Do your actions align well with your values? If not, what are you going to do about it?
Sometimes it’s ok not to do anything. Just sit there and breathe to calm yourself down. Shift the attention from your wild running thougths to physical sensations in your body. Sit and listen. Postpone any action.