When Feeling Bad Starts to Feel Good
Five ways to get unstuck and reclaim your mojo
It’s easy to feel down these days, especially with the pandemic looming over us with no clear end in sight.
I’ve had bouts of situational depression brought on by deaths, breakups, job loss, and divorce. Like most people, I’ve gone through what psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross deemed the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
And, like many people, I had times where I wallowed in depression longer than necessary — soaking in it like warm bathwater. I invented good reasons to linger in the negativity. I could plan revenge, write heartwrenching songs, torture myself with guilt, and keep myself busy digging deeper into my sad little hole.
It was a convenient excuse to do nothing. This depressing place welcomed me. I could shut out the world and feel the weight of grief pressing down on me, holding me like a dark angel.
It’s not uncommon for people to experience some solace in feeling down. According to David Sack, MD:
There is a theory that people like negative feelings. A study by Eduardo Andrade and Joel Cohen, which evaluated why people enjoy horror movies, concluded that some viewers are happy to be unhappy. The researchers found that people experience both negative and positive emotions at the same time, meaning they not only enjoy the relief they feel when the threat is removed but also enjoy being scared.
But despite this duality of experience, staying stuck in depression isn’t going to lead anywhere good. You’ve got to find a way to crawl out and get yourself back in the game, and there are ways to do that when you’re ready. Here’s what I’ve learned.
1. Give yourself a break
Despite being logical and rational, humans are primarily emotional beings. Our emotions show up effortlessly and unconsciously like bubbles rising to the surface. A triggering event occurs, and before we know it, we’re angry, sad, frightened, hurt, or shocked. It takes time to heal.
Despite well-meaning people telling us to “cheer up,” it’s not that simple. The clouds will pass in…