So tomorrow I will be on the road again. After my last clumsy adventure of breaking into a festival was more or less successful, I was rewarded with one of the worst hangovers of my recent memory. Especially as a person who has a vulnerability for depression, going balls to the wall at a festival is not the wisest thing to do.
So, this week has been marked by some ups and downs that were deeper than usual.
My brain is really an a*shole. As soon as I have a wild weekend, my brain decides to spend the following days thinking about everything I ever did wrong in my life. This week was particularly tough. As much as I would have liked to stay lethargic and defeated in bed and watch endless hours of animal fights on YouTube, I needed to get my sh*t together, fast.
Tomorrow my next adventure is due, this time its Portugal. I am going to travel with my closest friends and a guy named Lenny to visit my buddy in Porto.
So, my last promises to my brain of never drinking again will be interrupted by 9 days of drinking port wine and ravaging like incompetent pirates through little villages in Portugal.
My brain is not pleased about this fact.
After 7 long weeks, I finally got my MacBook back today. After pouring coffee over it in my clumsiness, I was delighted that repairing it only cost me 280 euros and losing all my data. Shoutout to Steve Jobs for creating such indestructible devices. I hope Satan is kicking you in the balls for all of eternity.
So today, I want to talk with you about what to do when you are in a hole, when the crisis hits you.
My brain is really an over-reactive son of a bit*h. So, I thought I would write today’s article for fellow weirdos, who also, from time to time, deal with anxiety.
Because every so often, things are not as bad as we think they are.
For me, I got this realisation when I was having a conversation yesterday with a mentor of mine.
She had just arrived back from China, where she has multiple offices and over 200 employees that all follow her lead. I am going to introduce her to you guys on my podcast in two weeks.
As she arrived at our loft, she was surprised to see me in such a defeated state.
So we talked. I asked her about some stories of herself, where she was in dire situations and how she got out of. I was surprised. She had lots of stories to share. The fact that even self-made millionaires like herself feel like dog sh*t from time to time helped me to feel more human, and not to take my self so seriously.
So she gave me 4 steps to take when I am in a crisis…
Step 1 Dark Humour
The first step to take when you are in a crisis is to have humour.
For me, humour has always been a protective mechanism. One thing that has, in many moments, made the difference in losing my sh*t to overcoming a crisis. Laughing is medicine, and often it allows us to see that things are really not as bad as we think they are. Laughing triggers a cascade of effects in our brain that are of utmost importance for coping with the brutality of life from changing the heart rate to boosting serotonin, and to breaking depressive thinking patterns.
In my opinion, nothing is off-topic. Here is a joke that I heard while working in a psychiatric facility that a patient told me who was suffering from severe depression.
A pretty lady is standing on the side of a bridge, looking over it and thinking about jumping off. A homeless alcoholic man comes up to her as he was walking nearby. The lady notices the man coming and says: “Go away! There’s nothing you can say to me to change my mind, you cannot help me.” “Well, if you’re going to kill yourself anyway, why don’t we have sex? At least I’ll enjoy it” replies the man. “No way, you’re disgusting, go away”. The homeless man turns and starts walking away. The lady thinks: “Is that all you were going to say to me? Nothing more? Won’t you try to convince me that life is worth living that I should not jump off? Where are you going?” The homeless man thinks: “I have to make it down to the bottom. If I hurry, you’ll still be warm”.
As tasteless as this joke is, I think you get where I am coming from. The patient who told me this joke taught me a great awful lot of how to deal with the absurdity of life.
Step 2 Analyse the Situation
The second step to take when you are in a crisis is to use your brain.
So, things are sh*t. After coming to the humbling realisation and taking your fair amount of whining about it (which is necessary sometimes), you realise that crying will not change your stakes.
You must first understand why things suck. What is it that caused this problem.
There is a saying that only you can help yourself. I do not agree with that. Because it was also you who got yourself into that situation in the first place. So maybe you need some help to get out of it.
One thing that my podcast has taught me is that our problems are not unique and that some people have solved their problems, that to us seem insolvable already.
So, find out who has mastered the situation that you are in right now, and plainly ask them how they did it.
Also, talking with mentors, friends, or family will give you a different perspective. Often our own analysation is not to be trusted.
By asking others to evaluate ourselves, we can often see the root of our problems.
In my case, my financial habits are horrible. I am continually spending more than I make. Nobody feels good when they are 1-2 rents behind. So, in the nearest future, I am going to hack this problem.
Furthermore, I was doing too many things at once. From Blogging to playing basketball to being a student, to podcasting, writing a book, influencer stuff… was just too much for me. So, I felt overwhelmed.
My mentor told me in her beautiful Chinese accent:
Daniel focus on the one thing that you need to do right now. Ignore the rest. Your kung fu is not strong enough to handle multiple projects”.
So, I altered my course there, putting my academical first, and everything else second.
Step 3 Take Action
The third step to take when you are in a crisis is to take massive action.
So, you talked to others and evaluated your situation, now you want massive action.
One thing I learned from behavioural psychology was that to design for desired outcomes; you need to radically adjust your environment.
If you want to lose some weight, and your bad habit is to eat ice cream in the middle of the night, make a rule that forbids it to have any ice cream in the fridge at all. You cannot eat 100% of the ice cream that is not in your fridge.
Make the undesired behaviour as hard as possible.
Since I had a problem with my finances, I went looking for money management systems. I reached out to financial experts and best sellers to come on my podcast so that I could leave my brokenness behind and become an expert myself.
The more radical your behaviour, the surer you can be in getting control of the situation that is causing you pain.
So, asking yourself daily, what can I do today/this week/this month/this year to solve this situation is key.
A state that causes significant psychological damage is lack of control. The less we feel we are in charge of things, the more we fall into despair and hopelessness.
In my investigation of the clinically depressed, this was a distinct pattern. If you ask someone who suffers from depression very often, they will tell you ”I tried everything”, “Nothing works”, “I feel powerless”, “There is nothing I can do”.
The psychological term for this sensation is low self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is a term that describes our belief in our ability to solve things.
Funny enough, in my pursuit of deconstructing case studies who are kicking as* in life, you spot the opposite pattern.
Successful people have a deep founded trust in their own abilities, and in themselves to face problems and to do whatever they set out to do.
Nothing liberates yourself more than knowing that you can count on yourself, and your ability to find the answer.
This can make the difference between thriving in life and killing yourself.
You need to protect your own belief in yourself at all cost. If you want to develop new habits or achieve new goals, always aim low.
In my opinion, it is more important that you feel like you are winning than if you are actually winning.
Let us say you want to develop a habit of working out.
A wrong goal would be to say that you are going to work out daily because this goal does not allow room for failure. A better goal for the month would be, “I will hit the gym 3 times”. Everything else is extra credit.
There are too many people who rock in life, but who also think that they are total losers because they set wrong goals for themselves.
If you feel like a winner, you will usually end up winning, in my opinion.
Step 4 Endurance
The fourth step to take when you are in a crisis is to be patient.
The last point from my mentor was that I need to remember two words: Patience and Endurance.
Understanding that your crisis did not happen overnight, but that you took some time to dig your own grave is vital because then you understand that you will not magically solve your problem in one moment.
Psychologically wise, it is of tremendous importance that you make peace with feeling like crap for a while. Being ok with not being ok is a decision that will ultimately keep your edge.
Often situations that cause us pain and discomfort are momentarily unchangeable.
What you can change, however, is your attitude towards your problems. You can decide how you deal with unsolvable problems.
Give your fear and anxiety some room. Write down what you hate about your situation, what you fear, and what you blame yourself for.
Liberate your true self by writing everything down that bothers you.
The second word that my mentor told me to remember was endurance.
Successful people are crazy. Their radical way of conquering the world in their niche comes with a great price. I have not yet met a person who was successful on a global level, and who had any resemblance of a work-life balance.
There is a price, and if you are setting out to be this guy, you better get used to suffering from time to time.
It seems that ultra-successful people do not chase happiness as much as ordinary people. So, fall in love with the process. Come to terms with the pain. Accept that training hard, studying, and working a lot sucks. But, if your goal at the end of the tunnel outweighs your struggle, you can endure the road that leads you there.
Whatever the root of your crisis is, it is gonna pass, and if you are worried that other people are going to judge you because of you sucking right now, great, welcome it. No more expectations. It can only go uphill from here, you are playing with house money, and it will only make your win so much more meaningful.
So, hold on tight buddy! Great stuff is heading your way.
As always, thank you for reading, and go kick as*.