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5 Tips for Dealing with the Dumps

Last time I wrote about a coaching client of mine who found herself in the pits… in what I call a DPH (Damn Pothole). I promised that I would continue this thread by sharing a few tips for navigating these nasty little surprises. 

But first … the facts. We all trip and fall into a dark place periodically. Everyone, at one time or another, has been going along life’s merry way when … BAM … he or she falls head first into a dark, painful or sad place. It’s like the lights suddenly went out in Georgia and you are sitting in a stew of your own misery.  

And now the good news. There are things which can make these trips down the hole less painful.  

1.     Learn what triggers you and throws you into a DPH:  Is it certain people, situations, or words?  Maybe it’s looking at photos or reminiscing about the past or feeling jealous of others.  I guarantee there is a pattern to your downward spirals. Your job is to sniff out what your unique triggers are so you can learn to steer clear whenever possible.    

2.    Keep your arms and legs inside at all times.  Relax into your fall. Once you feel yourself going down, just go with it.  Struggling to grab onto the edges will only make the fall that much harder. To mix my metaphors…I think of being on a big rubber raft on the ocean. I could try to paddle the raft against the tide or I could pull my arms in and just ride the wave down. Remember, it always comes back up.

3.    Tell it like it is:  If you are in a funk, just own it. It’s actually unhealthy to pretend you’re okay when you’re anything but.  Side note: This is not blanket permission to tell everyone you’re in a DPH.  But with yourself and those who are nearest and dearest, admit to being in a tough emotional place.

4.    Properly outfit your pothole.  When you find yourself in the pits, what do you want to have with you?  Think about what comforts you.  Is there music that soothes you, or makes you cry or brings up your mood up or makes you sing?  What about things to read, ways to laugh and reminders that you are loved?  Make sure that even when you are in a dark place, you have little metaphorical candles that show you the light.

Example: My DPH is deliberately decorated with the following:  George Carlin books, my Bring-Me-Up playlist on iTunes, dark chocolate that is hidden where the children cannot find it, an inventory of friends who I can call when I’m down (not everyone makes this list), reminders to walk and eat well, and two full seasons of Modern Family on DVD.  

5.    Break on through to the other side:  There is night and day, winter and summer, sun and moon, downs and ups. When you’re in the DPH, there needs to be some part of you that remembers what life is like “up there.” It can be bleak and kind of spooky in the depths but for most of us, there are some really yummy things waiting for us when we emerge. Know what those things are. List them now when you are not in a DPH. Use the list as breadcrumbs to show you the way out.

I don’t think most of us will ever be immune to experiencing a bad mood or a deep sadness.  It is a part of life that, frankly, serves each of us in ways we don’t realize (future blog post here). But when we fall, we don’t have to “drop anchor” in our DPH. We can be honest about where we are, find the support and comfort to be okay being there and finally emerge to get back to business as usual.

So … what kinds of things trip you up and put you in a funk?  How does being able to identify those triggers help you?  What do you do to get out of your own DPHs?

I would love to hear from you.

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