When you are down and don't know why

A big part of recovery is noticing habits that don’t serve us and replacing them. Sometimes it’s as simple as identifying an emotional reflex. Example: Sometimes I catch myself feeling down and my brain immediately sets out to investigate why that is.

This is arguably the worst possible approach. I love the expression, “Analysis leads to paralysis.” If I’m down and seeking to understand why, I’m going to take stock of every possible reason I feel this way. I’ll note recent disappointments and things I feel sad about. This will have the net effect of making me feel more down, which leads to copious types of unhealthy coping mechanisms – many of which involve snacks and self-pity.

I love the Keep It Simple System (K.I.S.S.). If I keep things simple, instead of examining why I’m down, I can simply do something that improves my mood. This means more action and less thinking. The very basics of simply taking a walk and drinking water are likely to improve my mood.

I have also found introspection to be far more effective than analysis. Here too I can use K.I.S.S. Introspection is taking stock of my heart. I can check in and ask what it is that I need, what’s weighing on me, and what do I need to do about those. The answers to which are most often – involve other people.

I can also restart my day and simply choose to focus on gratitude. The benefit of gratitude lists is extolled by folks in long-term recovery and for good reasons. As corny as it may sound, there is a profound connection between my gratitude and my attitude. My ego bemoans things not going as I planned them and my spirit counters, “Thank God they didn’t.”

Surrender is a daily practice for me that pays huge dividends. Much of my sadness and dissatisfaction occurs from conflicts I have with (my)self. Surrender then is giving up the fight I have with myself in favor of what my Higher Power wants for me.

I’ve found great solace in the 3rd Step Prayer from AA and I’ve noticed that while what I ask of my Higher Power doesn’t seem to change what the Universe is doing in my life; it does make me far more receptive to what is placed in my path.