Someone recently said they were feeling down in the dumps. I could relate. I’ve definitely been down in there too. Most of us have at one time or another.
Down in the dumps. What does that actually mean? It’s so colloquial that the meaning is different for everyone. It's used for describing a myriad of feelings: sad, disappointed, sick, mournful, regretful, wanting. It certainly equates a state of mind or being.
What’s actually down there in those dumps? If the dumps are different for everyone, are they a reflection and creation of the beholder, self-imposed and self-decorated?
So I started thinking, if the veritable dumps are a creation from self, then perhaps there's a way to redecorate, reframe and rewrite the dumps. Perhaps they could be a place of reflection, of self-examination. Perhaps there could be some treasure to arise from the doldrum. Sometimes retelling or rewriting a scene can change the whole story, just as reframing your thoughts and changing your cognitive mindset about being down in the dumps can help to provide the ladder to climb out or the pathway through.
Most likely, it's rather nebulous down there. We just know it's a "place" we go when things are off or out of alignment. At times, I think of them as dark, dank, lumpy, cloudy, smelly, trashy, where I'm stuck, maybe blue, maybe invisible, maybe exhausted, maybe immobile. At other times is just rather blank and still.
When you find yourself in the dumps, what do they look like? Feel like? What kind of texture are they? Is it a room or a vast cascading cloud that permeates everything? What captures your mind and energy? Is it worry and doubt? Is it futurizing a scenario that hasn't happened yet? Is it beating yourself for not being enough?
The reframe starts in this state of awareness, a recognition of what's happening in your energy, mind and body.
Next, turn on the light. Take a look at your dumps with a little light on the subject. Often a new set of lenses will appear as you see clearly. It's the first step to rewriting the scene, to retelling your present story. Take a look around through this new lens. Several interesting things can happen once the light is on.
For me, things often appear smaller and clearer because I'm able to see the edges, the shapes of what's really happening rather the hugeness of what I might have created in my mind. The problem or issue is simpler, more concise.
What was previously invisible might show up now. The real reason for being down there in the first place. Dig deeper.
Colors may begin to appear, deep vibrant colors.
Do questions arise once you turn on the light? Can order be created from the jumbled chaos? Do the valleys appear as deep now that you’re actually taking a good look? Are there ideas hiding there? Can a pathway be cleared to ease your way through?
The reality of time can present itself with the light on. In other words, ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do in this moment about this situation?" If the answer is yes, then do it. If the answer is no, then let it go and come back to it when it's time. Like, if the thing you're worrying about is next Tuesday, and it's Saturday. Stay in Saturday. Do Tuesday when Tuesday comes.
Perhaps with the light on you can ask yourself what you’re really needing right now. Many times the first answer can be pretty simple, like just taking a first step. Here are some things that have worked for me:
- Reach out to a friend or coach.
- Give yourself needed alone time – sleep, meditate, journal, exercise, be in nature.
- Get out in public - go to an event, a MeetUp or museum, whatever speaks to you.
- Make yourself a to-do list to get out of your head.
- Get back to work.
- Set a simple routine and stick to it.
After taking some of these steps, describe what it looks and feels like around you now? Is the scene different? Is your outlook fresher? Is your inner dialogue more authentically positive? If any of that is true then you've successfully reframed and rewritten your down-in-the-dumps!
Sometimes the light may be rather dim, a flicker even. That’s okay. A flicker of light can mean hope in an otherwise hopeless moment. Keep on turning up the dimmer switch.