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Four Ways Out of the Pit

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: foilman

We must learn to sail in high winds.

— Aristotle Onassis

Some of us need inspiration every day.  Like antiperspirant, we need to reapply inspiration every day… or we might start to develop “stinkin’ thinkin’”.

These days it’s harder to avoid stinkin’ thinkin’ and believe that things will be OK.  During the crash, things went bad so quickly that we’ve developed a habit of expecting the worst – even now that things are going better.

We’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop.

You see it in the behavior of the stock market.  We hit the market low about 4 years ago.  We’ve been running up since then and recently hit an all time high.  Yet, whenever the market pulls back, it feels as if everyone is  holding their breath waiting to make sure that we’re not crashing again.

On a personal level, individual work situations are unpredictable even though for the last several months unemployment has been going down.  “Permanent” jobs seem to have become less and less secure.

People change jobs more frequently and there is generally less stability at work.

Living in the Pit

The longer the bad times persist, the harder it is to maintain a positive attitude.  Eventually, pessimistic thinking becomes a habit.  It’s a way to safeguard against being surprised again.  If we can anticipate the troubled times, it’s “easier”.

We are in control!

The problem is that when we develop a habit of expecting the bad, we discount the things that we might do to improve our situation.

We get in the habit of choosing safety over growth.

We get stuck!

So, we’re in control – as long as we stay safe and take no risks.  But, that’s not really being in control.  It’s the illusion of safety.

We’re not really in control.  It’s the illusion of control.

Unfortunately, trying to stay safe and in control robs us of our hope and puts us in the pit.

We feel and act like victims.

Getting Out of the Pit

Nobody wants to be a victim, so we need to get out of the pit.

We’ve gotten out of the pit before.  It may not have been so deep, but we’ve escaped before and we will again.

To get out of the pit, we need to:

  • Get plenty of rest.  This means physical rest as well as psychological and spiritual solace.  For me, this usually includes reading good books (aka, entertaining), watching good movies and getting plenty of sleep.  When I’m rested, I have the energy to take on new challenges – creating hope and eliminating victimhood.
  • Find a new and exciting goal or recommit to an existing goal.  This gives us something to strive for.  When I’m working toward something new instead of clinging to the old safe thing, over time, I develop hope.
  • Develop flow.  Our lives are incredibly busy and heavily scheduled.  We don’t have time to shilly shally around.  We must get things done NOW.  Unfortunately, our psyche doesn’t always cooperate.  We get frustrated and depressed and end up in the PIT again.  Let go of expectations and enjoy the journey.  Don’t fight the current, flow with it.
  • Schedule something to look forward to – an outing with friends, a trip to the beach or the mountains.  It doesn’t need to be expensive.  Plan something special and do it.  A little bit of fun can go a long way to getting out of the pit.

You can get out of the pit and you don’t need to feel great in order to do it.  Little steps work.  Take a nap.  Read a book.  Go to a movie.  Get an ice cream cone.  Create little bits of fun and joy and soon, you’ll be feeling better, too.

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