Welcome! This post is in response to the second prompt for Season 3 on Seeker’s Dungeon.
THE HEALING ARTS
We all have different methods of lifting ourselves up when we are feeling down. Some turn to movies or books, others to food, meditation, conversation, exercise, music or dance. What is your go to ritual when you need to get out of a funk? Or do you tend to stew in it until you naturally move on? Share your healing techniques with us.
When I read the title of the prompt I had a very different image than after I read the text of the prompt.
What came to mind when I read the title was an image of healing events, like Jesus healing the sick. It brought to mind memories of going to Alateen and Al-Anon Meetings. My initial thought was that I’d share about the hundreds of hours of psychotherapy I’ve done.
After I read the text however, I had a completely different reaction and a different set of memories come to mind. While I’m not saying that eating a bowl of ice cream is a healing experience, this prompt is making me think bigger picture. So I went and looked up the definition of coping. Here is what I found on wikipedia:
Also, right about the time this post was brewing in my mind, Robin Williams died. His death got me thinking even more about this topic. What if I hadn’t had the escapes and tricks to get out of a funk when I was feeling really down or depressed? What if my judgements of my coping techniques kept me from using them? What if I had reached a point where I felt there was no way out? What then might have happened to me?
This got me thinking of how coping mechanisms when I was younger may have helped keep me sane. They distracted me from the problems in my life and kept me feeling good. The ones I leaned on most were:
- Watching TV
- Eating a big meal
- Eating desert
- Playing video games
- Listening to loud music
- Retail Therapy
The problem with these healing techniques is that they have side effects I may not want. When I start getting judgmental about those consequences, I think about the far greater possible consequences of others, or if I can find no relief. The problem with coping mechanisms is that they start to lose traction as you get older. They lose their effectiveness like an overused medication.
My friend Vince Horan sums up coping mechanisms best. The ways we cope with the situations of our lives are pure genius. The very fact that they allow us to tolerate, even for just a moment, the stress, fear, and sadness that otherwise would be beyond our ability to manage makes them the perfect solution. However, over time they don’t work anymore. They are mechanisms of survival meant to keep us surviving, not thriving.
So if you find yourself coping in a world of fear, anger, stress, anxiety, depression, or grief, and you find release through coping, I completely understand and support you. Anything that can lift us out of negativity and give us a reprieve or release is sometimes all we can do.
The consequences of overweight, lack of sleep, addiction, debt, or other problems may create cycles of issues, but for the moment, The Struggle is Real, and survival may require us to take short-sighted actions to bring us relief. However, they won’t work long term.
The longer we use these coping mechanisms, the longer we remain in survival mode — a mode that we can’t do indefinitely. For that we need new techniques. We need healing that will allow us to thrive rather than just survive.
In 2003, it was just such a transition that I began to seek — to move away from coping techniques to a change in perception, attitude, beliefs, and actions that lead not away from fear, anxiety, or depression, but towards love, joy, and fulfillment, not on a temporary basis, but on a deeper level.
So today I spend more time walking, learning, talking with God, and exploring my world. Instead of coping with situations, I’m using these troubled times as inspiration to explore a greater level of healing and transformation.
Right now I’m looking to the following to move from a survival mode into a thriving mode:
- A daily spiritual practice
- Ongoing psychotherapy
- Connection to friends, family, and colleagues
The realization I adopted years ago is that being in a funk is a choice. I need nothing to get out of it because nothing got me into it to except for my own mental model of the world. I can just decide to end it. When I find I cannot get out of a funk, it means that a deeper issue is at work. It means that likely there is a false belief, learned behavior, or adopted attitude that is causing my own pain. It means that it’s time to get out the big guns and work through the issues. The big guns are:
- Questioning my assumptions
- Questioning my perceptions
- Turning around my thinking
- Generating a mental state from love, not fear
So that about sums up what comes to mind when I think about healing. I hope you are doing awesome and that if you are in a funk, you have a way to help yourself get out of it, in the moment as well as in the long run.
May love, joy, and fulfillment be yours.
EDIT: 8/28/2014 Here is an post I wrote in the past about Funks and Depression.