Upon entering the world, everyone is given the ability to morph into someone great, capable of making a difference. It is only once life takes a toll, throwing obstacles in front of plans and aspirations, that some succumb to the pressure to conform.
It is then that self-confidence wavers, and people find themselves seeking meaning and self worth through family, work, and even religion. The belief that, without goals or accomplishments, they have no purpose becomes firmly entrenched, and soon they find themselves in a dark mental state.
The danger of giving up
In this dark mindset, confusion reigns supreme. Self-esteem and self love is weakened through doubt, fear, and even resentment. You may begin to question whether or not you’re on the right path, or if you’ll ever amount to anything. Soon, things that originally brought you joy seem unimportant, because you are haunted by the constant negativity you’ve allowed to take control.
If you need help finding a sense of direction to dig yourself out of a dark state of mind, work from the inside-out.
Inner work: 5 steps
#1 Give yourself some time. It may sound counterproductive, but giving yourself time to be depressed is often a good thing. Giving yourself this time is essentially like hitting the pause button. It allows you to explore the darkness you find yourself in, grow familiar with it, and ensure that you do whatever it takes to keep from experiencing it again. Indulging the feelings for a time will make everything feel ten times better once you take control. [Read: Get to know who you really are with these 8 questions]
#2 Build and maintain self confidence. Of course, it is important to note that being depressed over your circumstances doesn’t mean allowing yourself to let your self-confidence suffer. Even while depressed, you should always try your hardest to be confident and to love yourself. If you don’t, you won’t have the power to make any of the changes you need to. You will waste time second-guessing and doubting yourself, making it impossible to make any worthwhile decisions.
#3 Don’t consider lost time a waste, consider it research. Being positive and holding your head up high may be difficult, but it is important to try. Rather than looking at the days gone by as wasted, you should consider them research for what is to come.
Every day is a new beginning, every moment a new slate. Even if you don’t feel like you’ve made any significant improvements, you have probably thought of what not to do, or what you don’t want, or perhaps explored the things that may be holding you back. This is progress, however slight.
#4 Remember it’s never too late to dream. A lot of times, we already know what we want out of life. Deep down, there is an urge to do certain things, or to seek certain paths. If you take the time to dream and let your imagination run free, you’ll figure out what those aspirations are.
Now, if these things seem unreachable, or too difficult, remember that old saying: “Nothing good comes easy.” It’s a popular saying for reason: it’s true. The only real obstacle is yourself. If you want something badly enough, you’ll put in the effort to get it. [Read: 6 telltale excuses you use often that get you nowhere]
#5 Make a list, check it twice. It may sound elementary, but making a list of what’s important to you is an invaluable resource. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that inspire us the most. Making a list will put the important aspects of your life into focus, while helping you figure out what your goals really should be. Having a clear list will hopefully make it easier to be grateful for the things and people that are already in your life. Why should one aspire for more, if the present isn’t appreciated? It is important to get your bearings first, before going on your mission of self-improvement.
Exterior world: 5 steps
#1 Do your research. Once you have a general idea of what it is you’d like to do, the best place to start is conducting research. Asking the right questions of the right people, scouring the Internet for any answers to any questions, and figuring out what steps to take to complete your objective are crucial steps. Without doing this, you’re beginning your journey blindly and putting yourself at a disadvantage. It is best to be prepared, rather than risking a longer, more painful path. [Read: The need for purpose in your life and 5 things it can do for you]
#2 Outline your path. Once you have conducted your research, your next step should be to outline your path. These are the chronological steps that you will take in order to accomplish your goal. Think of it like a roadmap that you can use for reference. Every time you start to feel lost, confused, or like you’re slipping back into a dark state of mind, you can glance over the map and know where you are, and where you need to go.
#3 Manage your stress. The journey to reach your goals will be difficult. Just like in every heroic tale, the protagonist has to have substantial obstacles to overcome in order to accomplish something grand. If you feel the stress rising, or like you need someone who understands you to provide some sort of motivation to keep going, don’t be afraid to pick up a self-help book, or stress relief app.
Meditation, anxiety relief, and sleep apps are all valuable resources. A lot of times, that inner voice that makes us second-guess ourselves is what stresses us out more than the actual situation. Learning to manage this and turn it into motivation is the key to leading a healthy lifestyle and accomplishing your goals. [Read: 15 feel-good secrets to feel better about your life]
#4 Ask for help; it is a sign of intelligence. Don’t be afraid to also seek help from others. Most people don’t like to ask for help, thinking that they are going to impose on others, or inconvenience them in some way. What most people don’t understand is that loved ones will not hesitate to help you. They’re in your life for a reason, and they love you. They are there to help you, if you need it.
If you feel like you’re a burden, remember that there will be times that they need help, and you can be there for them, too. Loved ones suffer when they see you lost and depressed. They see how unhealthy your situation is. Although they’re not sitting there judging, they are sitting there worrying. They want you to pick yourself back up, dust off, and try again.
Getting help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of intelligence. You’re using valuable resources to get to where you need to be, even if you don’t know exactly where that is. Much like making career connections, it is important to use those around you for help, when needed. [Read: 13 inspiring ways to bring out the best in yourself]
#5 Start from the ground up. Finally, don’t be afraid to build your way up. Everyone who is anyone had to start from the bottom and work their way up to the top. Depending on your goal, this could mean that you may be doing your goal-oriented tasks on the side, while doing something dull as your primary means of income.
If this is your situation, keep in mind that this could be to ensure you cultivate enough experience before jumping into a bigger pond. Other times, it’s simply because the right opportunities aren’t available to you just yet. Consider this a stepping stone, and use this time to gain the experience that you need to accomplish your goals. [Read: 10 little steps you need to take to have a much better life]
It may seem useless, but keeping a positive outlook is one of the best things you can do to dig yourself out of dark circumstances. Never losing hope ensures you don’t have to climb as much to get out of a dark frame of mind. People seem to pay more attention to the mistakes they make, rather than their accomplishments. What they don’t understand is that mistakes are acceptable, and even encouraged. If you don’t make mistakes, you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. Mistakes help mold you into someone stronger and more self-aware.