Feeling 'Off,' But Don't Know Why? Here's How to Reclaim Your Happiness. This five-step process can help you stay afloat during tough times.
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Sometimes things are going great, and then all of a sudden, you feel "off" and don't know why. I just downloaded What Happened to You by Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry because I felt myself entering a state of aloofness, and I wanted to know why. I'd studied psychology in school, so I was always interested in how the mind works and why people do the things they do.
Most of us have an idea of what triggers us to feel things we don't want to feel or think things we don't want to think, but most of us haven't taken a proactive stance to make sure that we are okay. Here are five things you can do when you feel yourself entering a depressive state.
1. Write down what has happened to you
You're not going to love this at all, but it is necessary. There are some things we'd rather just block out and pretend never happened, but they did happen. We don't have to dwell on it, but we have to acknowledge it. So, write down every traumatic thing that has happened to you. Make sure to have a friend, close family member or professional nearby that you can reach out to if you feel yourself entering a "danger zone" — when you find yourself in a state of mind or emotion that isn't healthy for you.
2. Write down the effect each of those things had on you
Okay, the hard part is over. We went back into the deepest corners of our minds and recalled things we tried to bury for good and wrote them down. We also wrote down the injustices and traumas that we actively think about. Now, you are going to write down the effect those events had on you when they happened. How did you feel? What changed in your behavior? What was your new belief because of that situation? How did it change the way you view yourself and the world? What have you learned is important to you? What do you need in order to feel safe, loved, understood and accepted?
3. Write down the effect those things have on you currently
Now that we took a brief trip down memory lane, it's time to determine how those events are affecting you now. Do you see any patterns that may have stemmed from one of those past traumas? What kinds of things currently trigger you that are due to past traumas? Do you struggle with perfectionism or the need to overachieve? Do you always feel the need to defend yourself or lash out?
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4. Identify your "danger zone"
Do you recognize when you start to feel a little "off"? Do you notice what happens before you start feeling off and when you begin to transition to that "danger zone" — whether that be feeling numb, sad, worthless, lonely, misunderstood or unwanted? How do you cope when something undesirable is happening? How do you currently cope with the everyday things you have going on, and how do you feel right before you enter a bad place? What thoughts swirl in your mind?
5. Seek support
When we are going through things, it's easy to self-isolate and lick our wounds in the corner. But feeling supported and loved while you are going through something can bring about the change you want to see. Whether you seek out the services of a therapist, life coach, support group or are relying on really good friends, giving yourself the opportunity to receive the things you wish you had when you were younger can be a big step towards seeing change in your life.
It may feel like you are opening yourself up to being hurt again, but you are giving yourself a chance to receive the things in life that your soul yearns for. Whether you are a veteran that would like to be able to get through New Years' without being huddled behind the couch or are someone who has had his or her physical boundaries violated, realizing what happened to us — during the event and after — is a critical component of us being able to move forward.
The struggle is that some of us feel like we can't look back at what happened to us because it is so painful, and others feel they can't look forward because the event was so painful. But it is required to gather the necessary information to move forward. Now that you have a better idea of where certain things are coming from, you can determine what you need in order to feel okay again and move away from the depressive state you were about to enter.
As a life coach, I tend not to have my clients dwell in the past, but sometimes an understanding of what happened back there — and how it changed them — is necessary to understand current situations so that we can help make better future situations. What things make you feel better again? Sometimes, when we're in a funk, part of us wants to stay there. But you and I know the longer we stay there, the worse things will be, and the harder the climb out will be.
Brainstorm three positive-result-inducing things that you can do right now to boost your energy level and mood and get yourself out of your funk.
Related: 25 Habits to Achieve Happiness