Help! I'm Stuck in a Rut

Dear Edahn, 

I have been in a depressed funk for over five months now since losing my job. Actually, I have lost the last three jobs in a row as a result of being overworked, underpaid, burned out, and laid off (read: economy). I am a young, educated, smart, energetic, positive, attractive woman with a great personality, and there should be no reason for me to feel this despair. I have the same, if not more potential than most. In fact, most people don't even know what I'm going through because I don’t show it to anyone. I think I am just scared to apply myself to a job and get taken advantage of like I have before, and then get laid off like a worthless piece of garbage. The fact is, I now have $300 to my name, and my unemployment benefits have just ended, but I see no way of digging myself out of this hole anytime soon. I lack the motivation to get out there and make things happen, and it really scares me. I just don't want to do anything. However, given that funds are running out, I am starting to freak the fuck out. Any advice on how to pull myself out of this funk and get my life on the right track?

NO. THERE IS NO way to pull yourself out of this funk, because the more you try to pull yourself out, the more you're actually pushing yourself further in. That's why the past 5 months have been absolute shit. Problems like these can't be solved through forcing motivation or thinking or planning. They have to get resolved by intuition. To do that, you need to put aside all your expectations about what the solution is going to look like. In fact, stop looking for a solution entirely, right now. Take a second to just breathe and feel yourself. Feel what it feels like to breathe. Feel what it feels like in your chest and in your lungs. Feel your feelings for a second, whatever they feel like. You don't have to identify it accurately, just feel it and see where it goes. If it hurts, that's okay. If it feels vulnerable, that's okay. If it feels sad, that's okay. If it feels empty or like nothing special, that's okay too. Just be here for a sec. Take a minute before reading on. 

What's going on here? You're slowly getting in touch with something deeper. That something deeper is always there, but it gets covered up by thinking and forcing and worrying, which is why I said you can't pull yourself out. It's impossible; too much emphasis on planning is the cause of the problem, not the solution. This something deeper, however, can motivate you and guide you. Listen to it and reflect on your question with your breath and body in the background. What really matters to you? What has always mattered to you? What will always matter to you, despite whatever happens? These are your core values. This is what you need to pursue. You don't need to force that motivation because it comes naturally when you understand how important it really is to you, to others. It's universally important. Write down what matters to you. Integrity? Honor? Compassion? Intelligence? Service? Write slowly and with care.

You've done a lot in your life already. Without reflecting too hard and still keeping that sense of closeness with yourself, write down some of your best skills. It doesn't have to be something you do better than others, just something you do better than others things. Okay.

Still with me? Now move on to some career options that resonate with your values and skills. Write down possibilities. You can cross them off later. Do it patiently. If you need to check back in with your body, go ahead and do so now.

The last question is making a plan. Does one career path stand out more than others? What are some of the steps you'll have to take in that path? What sacrifices will you have to make? What personal qualities will you need to develop? What changes do you have to make to your current routine to get you on that path? It can start off theoretical, but make sure you create something practical that you can do, like a schedule or a to do list.

When you're done, read on and I'll share my experience

* * * 

I feel what you're feeling a lot, and probably for the exact same reason. When I stop all the rushing and worrying and desperation and just listen to what's already here with me, I feel a buzzing feeling in my chest which turns into a feeling that I describe as vulnerability or tenderness. I then turn quiet and a little sad, but reflective. I almost immediately know that what I want in my life, more than anything, is to have a big open heart and to help others open their heart. Everything else configures around that feeling and either harmonizes with it or conflicts with it. I've made a list of a few possible careers that resonate with my skills, identified some milestones I'll have to reach, and also some of the compromises in lifestyle I'll have to make like giving up some habits, addictions, and all forms of inner and outer violence, however subtle, that clog up my heart. I generated some rules and then made a schedule to help me stick to those rules and keep my lifestyle consistent with this path. I'd love it if you kept me updated.

From my heart to yours,