Hello everybody, welcome to episode 25 of Optimal Living Advice. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today, we cover more new territory. We have a great question sent in about how to get out of a slump. A lot of us can fall into certain kinds of slumps and it can be tough to crawl out of them as they’re usually caused by things piling up as opposed to one single event.
That’s the case with this asker, but I’d rather give you the story in her own words. Here it is…
QUESTION: “I’ve been in a slump now for about 6 months. My boyfriend left me, my best friend moved away, I lost my dog, my rent was increased, and I’ve been getting less hours at work. I think I’ve handled each of these things ok, but they’ve piled up so much that I hardly know who I am anymore. There’s so much pain each day. I’m getting so sick of it but I just don’t feel I have enough control anymore to do anything about it. I’ve followed you for a while, and I know how much you talk about the importance of taking action, but I don’t even know where to start.”
Ok. This sounds like an extremely tough time for you. That’s a lot to juggle all at once and I’m glad that you reached out to us here for a second opinion. I’m also grateful to you for following my work for a long time, that means a lot to me. So thank you for that as well, and I’m glad it’s reached a point where I can try to help you directly.
I think this dilemma is resolved by reframing both this current stage and the next stage for you. Let’s talk about this stage first.
Pain is a Part of Life
I know that pain is exhausting. I know that it’s not something that anyone wants.
But pain is a big part of life. It is ongoing. It is necessary. It is predictable. It is here to stay – at least in trace amounts.
And I say this because I fear you’ve fallen into trap that’s so easy to fall into in tough times – it’s the trap of feeling bad about feeling bad.
No, I’m not expecting you or anyone else to necessarily enjoy pain, let’s not get that woo-woo around here. But we can still be patient with pain, and thus be patient with ourselves. Consider everything you’ve gone through in these last 6 months – all these things you’ve been through that you mentioned. Why would you NOT feel pain? It’s a perfectly normal reaction, and I know it’s easy to get sick of it, but you also must acknowledge that it’s ok to feel it.
This 6 month period of your life, this drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, is simply a difficult time. They’ve happened before and they’ll happen again. You’ll get out of this, and you’ll get back into another one some day. It is but a stage. If you live 80 years, this will be 1/160th of your life.
This stage has a place. It needs to be kept into perspective. It doesn’t deserve to reflect any more than 1/160th of your identity.
And this stage, like other painful stages, has a role.
1. Learn from Pain
The first part of its role is learning.
Start to brainstorm about all of the useful skills you’re learning right now that will be helpful for you in the future. Off the top of my head, based on some of your current struggles, I’m thinking maybe independence. I’m thinking grief management. I’m thinking budgeting.
What other precise lessons are you learning right now that you know you’ll need and you know you’d be less likely to learn during the good times?
Allow yourself to feel difficult emotions. Facing pain includes allowing yourself to experience a “shattering” of your self, or feeling painful emotions in order to process them to completion. This is part of the transformation of yourself and how you related to the world and others.
2. Prepare for The Next Phase
The second part of the role is rebuilding so as to prepare for the next phase. The process is a little bit similar to the preparations you'd make when you're getting ready for the next phase in your career. And these lessons are going help springboard you into that rebuild – both practically and spiritually. So let’s talk about the rebuild.
When we feel out of control, it’s hard to take the time to create visions for ourselves, visions for how we want things to be. They seem unrealistic, but that’s only because our judgment is clouded for the time being. Is there plenty in life that you don’t have control over? Of course there is. But there’s also plenty that you do have control over, and that’s how the healing process starts for you as you get ready to move out of this more miserable, teeny tiny, not a big deal 160th.
I’m very appreciative of the fact that you’ve listened to my blabbering enough to know how I feel about taking action – I’m a big advocate. And you take actions on things because you believe in a result on the other side. And control sort of reinforces belief – they go hand in hand if that makes sense.
So you’re more likely to act on things that you can control. You’re more likely to practice shooting three pointers in basketball because you know you have a lot of control in becoming a better shooter. You’re less likely to practice, I don’t know, doing some song and dance to summon rain because that’s not rain works. Great example, Greg. Stay hot.
3. Create Your Vision
What all of this means for you is that the action that you’re most likely to take, the action that’s best to take, and therefore the action with which to start, is action that is derived from a vision you create for yourself. So you’re in this phase now, this less than desirable 160th; what’s the next phase going to look like? What do you want your life to look like and what can you do to make that happen? What controlled steps an you take?
Do what you can to get very clear about what it is that you want your life to become. Your personal goals in terms of commitment, attainability, and progress are related to your well-being.
What does a day in the life look like for you? When do you wake up? Where do you live? What hobbies do you take part in? Are you using skim or 1% milk in your cereal? Have you sworn off cereal? Get down to the details, because the more detailed the vision it is, the easier it is to create effective steps to make it a reality. And again, make sure those steps are within your control.
For example, if you say you want to become an actress, a bad step to start with is saying “Ok I’ll book one gig by the end of the week”. This step isn’t terribly useful because it ignores all the other moving pieces.
As an actress, you and your talents have very little say in whether or not you actually get a job. Trust me – been down that road.
This is how visioning can get us into trouble if it’s not paired with action – it’s all belief-based and ignores other circumstances. What you can do, however, as a first step, is say “Ok I’ll submit to 5 auditions this week. Or, “I’ll take an acting class this week. I’ll read a book about acting this week”. These are things that you can control that offer objective progress, unless the library burns down and there are no acting books left. Then, I’m out of answers.
You get what I’m saying, though.
Get Out of a Slump: Conclusion
The next, more desirable phase will come. You can push it along, though, by being patient with your pain, learning from it, and taking purposeful action relating to a clear vision that you create for yourself based on how you want life to be rather than how you feel it has to be.
And there we have it, friends. Today’s episode was a great microcosm of the life coaching progress, really. So thank you to the person who sent it in not only for trusting us to give you some help, but also for allowing all the viewers to hopefully gain a better understanding of how valuable it can be, no matter where you’re at, to recognize that which it is they want and how they can play their part to get it as opposed to waiting for the universe to just plop in their laps.
As you guys might know by now, you can send your own questions in for us to give you some help with by emailing them to advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Until next time, everybody.