Standing up When You’re Down and Out: Four steps out of emotional quicksand – Bryan the Capitalist

“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.”

     –   John Pierpont Morgan

“Inside of a ring or out, ain’t nothing wrong with going down. It’s staying down that’s wrong.”

     –   Muhammad Ali

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

     –   Winston Churchill

     There are probably few things an acclaimed boxer, a British statesman, and a tough as nails Industrial tycoon would agree on.  Economic policy? Social issues? Military?  Probably not.  So anything that could unify these unlikely allies may warrant some thought.  Their message is simple and very clear: Never give up and always keep moving.  Mental paralysis during these times and the physical toll taken by stress can make derail even the most diehard optimist.

     Most college students, at some point during their educational journey, experience a feeling akin to this.  A spot where we no longer see it is darkest ‘before the dawn’, but ‘before pitch black’ and hope is in short supply.  Be it a financial burden, family problem, or personal catastrophe (sometimes more than one) you’re left feeling like things will never get better.  Worse still you begin to accept it. 

     So how can you reverse the flow when life seems like a black hole out of which no positive energy escapes?

     The magic word is ‘Action’. 

     We may not be able to change the facts of our circumstance but we don’t have to be slaves to the paralysis that can set in.  The first step is to gain a realistic perspective on things.

     Action 1: Talk.  You know that idea you had that sounded so brilliant in your head you just had to do it without running it by anybody?  The one you now look back on and say, “What the Hell was I thinking?  Bad feelings seem to operate the same way. Even the most nebulous problem can seem more manageable once it’s not just in your head.  Plus, being down can lead to poor decision making and often this is where you can benefit from a fresh perspective.  Which lead us to …

     Action 2: Listen.  If there is one thing that won’t help, it’s intolerance to someone else’s suggestions.  We may tell ourselves we’ve tried everything and that nothing will work but often, in an emotional state, we don’t see things clearly.  The people you talk to aren’t just sounding boards and just because you didn’t think of a solution doesn’t mean it’s not going to work.  Fear of more failure can make even the most benign suggestion seem threatening but by even making the decision to listen to someone else you are taking a positive step.

     Action 3: Do.  Accomplishment seems to breed accomplishment and the better we become at taking care of our responsibilities the more we can gain a sense of control that can improve our overall disposition and sense of self.  You don’t get that same feeling from sitting on a couch, eating a gallon of ice cream or playing video games for hours on end to avoid reality.  Becoming an active participant in your life is a key factor in not letting your problems become unmanageable.

     Action 4:  Gratitude.  Stay grateful… for ANYTHING. Try to remember that gratitude IS an action word and if you proclaim to be grateful for something it’s your responsibility to protect its place in your life.  If you can find even a few things to be grateful for, no matter how trivial, you’re giving yourself that much more reason to hold on and stay positive.

     Keeping a big smile on your face while your world seems to be crumbling isn’t what any sane person would expect.  Life happens and the outcome may not be what you want or prepare for but by continuing to persevere and step up, you can throw off the blinders blocking your view of a brighter future.


*The Capitalist Disclaimer:  The suggestions made here are not to be construed as medical advice of any kind.  This blog is in NO WAY to be used to substitute or refute the opinions of professionals.  If you feel like things are getting out of hand it’s strongly advised to seek the help of a therapist, psychologist or other person trained to deal with hard situations. 



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