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3 Ways to Pull Yourself Out of a Funk

When life knocks you down, how do you get back up?

It’s a given that life will do its best to knock us down, but it’s not a given that we will get back up. Look around and you’ll see person after person with wasted dreams and anger lines etched deep into their brows.

These people weren’t born that way. Something happened. Something that was too much for them to handle. And so they threw up their hands and gave in to the life they were dealt. No longer trying to overcome their obstacles, they succumbed to a life of resignation. They didn’t get back up.

I don’t want to do that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to judge a single soul. For all I know, if I had to face certain obstacles, I would be in the same, hopeless boat. But I hope not. I’d like to think I would still choose hope.

Just to give myself a little credibility here, I want to be clear. My life is good. I have a great husband, three amazing kids, and a peaceful home. I have great family and friends to call on.

BUT. My good life just so happens to be in spite of a few things.

For one thing, I have multiple sclerosis. For those of you who don’t know, this is an incurable autoimmune condition that effects the nervous system. And guess what the nervous system is responsible for…? Yep, everything! Symptoms come and go, but you never know what you’re going to get.

Numbness and tingling on a toe, a leg, or the whole body. Spasms in a hand, a leg, or the entire left side of your body. Double vision. Virtually any function of the body can be affected because of the way MS works: it interrupts your nerve signals, which in turn causes your body to do some pretty crazy, disruptive things.

So yes, I have a good life. But that doesn’t stop me from wondering what the future will hold. Maybe we should take an amazing vacation this year because—what if I’m unable to travel next year? I should do everything I’m capable of doing now, because—what if this or that thing happens? Even if I’m doing my best to stay in good health and know that, for now, these are pretty irrational thoughts, it doesn’t stop them from taunting me.

For another thing, after my husband and I got married 14 years ago, we went through some hard stuff with lasting effects. His mom’s death for one. Yes, everybody deals with death, I get it. But this was different than most. After suffering a brain aneurysm in a location that had never been successfully operated on, my mother-in-law’s amazing neurosurgeon (https://www.mayoclinic.org/biographies/lanzino-giuseppe-m-d/bio-20055067 ) pulled it off. He fixed her. After weeks of riding a life or death roller coaster, she was finally going to be okay.

Then some weeks later, the day before she was supposed to come home from the hospital, a nurse (who was supposed to be holding onto her) left her side for a moment, and she fell. After what we all thought to be a miraculous recovery, she hit her head and that was the end.

Legal and family drama ensued, and my father-in-law’s dementia rapidly progressed into Alzheimer’s which took his life a few years ago.

Those are just a couple examples to demonstrate that my family and I are not foreign to dealing with tough stuff. My street cred, if you will (ha!).

But you know what? Everybody is dealing with tough stuff. There’s not a single person I’ve ever gotten to know who is not dealing with something hard. Everybody’s tough stuff looks different, but it’s tough nonetheless. It’s enough to make us lose sleep, be in foul moods, and treat each other unkindly as we all stumble through our days trying to appear “fine.”

So how do we pull ourselves out of these tough spots? Mentally, I mean. Sometimes we can’t change our circumstances, but that doesn’t mean we have to submit to a bitter life. We can do better than that. We can set the bar higher for the world to see.

Here are three ways to pull yourself out of a funk. They’ve worked for me. I hope they work for you, too.

First, it’s pointless to try to do it alone. We were never meant to carry our burdens alone. Jesus makes this offer to us in Matthew 11:28, 30: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Give him your burdens. Holding onto them alone is only going to cripple you in the end.

And after you’ve given your burdens to Jesus, find a friend or family member who truly cares, and let them help you. “Oh, I don’t want to worry them. They’re not responsible for my burdens,” you may be saying. Stop it! The people in your life who love you are probably more than willing to help. Let them. Letting others help isn’t a sign weakness, it’s a sign that you’re human, which, guess what—people already know! Let others help and then be willing to help others when you’re in a better place.

Second, engage with God. Don’t just hand over your burdens and walk away. Let him be a moment-by-moment part of your day. Talk. Listen. Be still. Let it be a relationship that grows deeper by the hour as you learn to lean on him and trust him. He’s a good, good Father. Really, he is.

Third, find a thing. Something you can turn to in the busyness of your day that will pump some inspiration into your system. My thing is music. Whether I’m bustling around the house homeschooling and doing chores or whether I’m sick in bed and can barely move, worship music is there to speak truth to my weary soul. (Lauren Daigle in particular – can’t get enough of her albums!) Some days inspiring music makes all the difference in my attitude toward life and trials.

Trials will come. But if we let Jesus carry our loads, partner up with God and other people, and find a way to regularly remind ourselves of the hope God gives us, we’ll be well on our way to overcoming any situation this world might throw at us next.

Leave me a comment and let me know your strategies for overcoming difficulties – I’d love to hear from you! And feel free to drop me your email address in the “subscribe” box so you can receive future blog posts delivered straight to you! Thanks for reading!

The Negative Assumption Trap

I confess: I have spent way too much energy over the years wondering what other people were thinking. And then making (what I deemed to be) the most likely assumptions of what they were thinking when I couldn’t, in fact, know what they were thinking. Usually to my own detriment.

Is this just me, people? For goodness’ sake, if it’s just me then please get me some help.

But I suspect I’m not alone here.

Someone responds to your innocent question with a “tone,” and three miles down your trail of thought later you conclude they must not like you and probably never have.

You walk into a group where everyone greets you except one person – the same person you accidentally cut off in the parking lot. Even though you gave them an apologetic wave at the time, they must be mad at you. Maybe not even speaking to you.

You’re at a party involved in (listening, mostly) a boisterous conversation and everyone’s laughing. You begin to speak when someone interrupts to tell (another) story, louder and more animated than you. Everyone’s attention turns to them. You must not be worthy of sharing your stories – why would anyone want to hear what you had to say after all? You’re not that funny.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Oh my word, it’s exhausting in my brain!

Over the years I’ve gotten a much better handle on this defeating sort of self-talk (most of the time), but in high school it could be almost paralyzing.

I may have never raised my hand a single time in high school. Speak in public? Probably get laughed at for getting something wrong. Ask a question? Probably get laughed at because I should already know the answer.

And if a cute guy seemed flirty? Forget about it. I would convince myself in a nanosecond that his friends put him up to it as a joke at my expense.

Call it paranoia if you want (could’ve been). Maybe social anxiety (I’m pretty sure this is our winner). Whatever it was, it was a problem.

It wasn’t until after college that I truly began to understand how often I was basically inventing backstories and lies regarding what other people were thinking about me. And not just “oh that’s not quite true,” but more along the lines of “wow, that wasn’t even close to the truth.”

I assure you it wasn’t on purpose, it just sort of happened.

Since then I’ve learned to distinguish between reality and false assumptions much more easily. (Well, most of time.) I can generally recognize the negative assumptions before my thoughts spiral downward, and am able get my mind back on the truth track before I actually start believing the falsehoods that pop into my mind.

In an effort to help prevent you from riding the negative assumption train like I did for too long, here are a few reminders to get our minds back on track when we start making negative assumptions about what other people think:

  1. Most people are generally good. It’s only right to give them the benefit of the doubt; it’s insulting to them to assume the worst.
  2. Most people are too busy thinking of themselves to be thinking that hard about me or what I said/didn’t say. This is freeing to me! Also, assuming they’re thinking that hard about me is pretty egocentric.
  3. Whose opinion am I after – theirs or God’s? Hands down, God’s. If I follow his lead and stay on his path, it doesn’t matter a bit if other people like/don’t like it. That’s up to God to work out.

Our thought-life is like a muscle. The part we exercise gets stronger. If we think negative things regularly, it becomes easier and easier to think negatively.

BUT. On the flip side, we can actually train our brains to think more positively. We just have to be extremely proactive about taking each negative thought captive and replacing it with truth. Soon it will come more naturally and we won’t have to try quite so hard.

As 2 Corinthians 10:5 implores us:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Let’s choose to believe the best about other peoples’ intentions (until proven otherwise, at least). Let’s take every thought captive this week and speak truth into our minds. Why would anyone think poorly of us anyway? We rock!

Is this something you’ve struggled with? Leave me a comment to share your story!