Ups and downs or alternating periods of good and bad fortune is the very nature of life, but it isn’t natural to be stuck on a downward path. When you find yourself on such a path or think your life is a mess, be aware you aren’t a victim of the fate or fatal circumstances. You are either the saboteur or the artisan of your life.
First thing you have to do to get out of such a hopeless situation is to evaluate your situation comparing it either with a past happy period of your life or a future wanted one. Then notice the differences between these two or three situations.
The second step is to find out the causes that led to this downward momentum. What do you think you thought and did on the path to the present situation? Many authors recommend not focusing on causes, because this explanatory approach prevents you from finding solutions. But I think it can be constructive (if you do this with moderation) because you can identify what you thought and did wrong and then think and do exactly the opposites.
The third step is to put your mind at work on finding solutions, sort them, eliminate those that proved unproductive in the past and focus on those you want to implement.
At this stage a good solution is to find your sources for meaning in life. The first source of meaning you have to consider are people and your relationships with some of them. I refer here to family members and friends. The second source of meaning to analyze is creativity. Use your imagination and creativity to get rid of your bad momentum. Find and involve in activities that solicit your creativity. Creative activities keep away apathy and boredom. The third source to take into account is involvement in your personal growth. This means you can take an active and systematic approach on your personal development and this leads you, in the long run, to great satisfactions. The fourth source of meaning is nature and your relationship with it. We humans aren’t only social beings but “natural” beings as well, this means we have a deep need for natural environment. Spiritual and religious activities are another possible source of meaning for you. Finally, the sixth source of meaning that you can consider are social causes. Besides relationships with others and socialization you can find a source of joy in helping others or fighting for a social cause.
The fourth step to get out of a bad situation is taking action. Here I propose you two tasks:
1. Take Care of Your Unconscious Subsystems First
First thing first take care of your body physiology. Our moods, either negative or positive ones, are fueled by our body physiological and chemical processes. The good news is that the bad physiological and chemical processes that fuel our bad moods can be changed into positive ones through exercises: jogging and bodybuilding for example.
Emotions and motivation are very tight connected, so be aware that we living beings are unconsciously driven towards pleasure and away from pain.
Analyze your beliefs and presuppositions about life. There are three categories of beliefs and presuppositions: negative, useless and positive ones. Identify then let go the negative and useless beliefs and replace them with constructive ones. Be conscious that you may have views and paradigms about life that can undermine a happy life. Your values are also critical for your life.
2. Take Charge of Your “Conscious” Subsystems
Watch your inner voice. Whatever you are doing, your mind is continuously verbalizing either what you are doing in the present or anything else from the past or a possible future. The best option is to focalize your inner voice on what you are doing right now (it also increase your productivity) and stop or let go any useless thoughts.
Develop and strengthen your will. Become action-oriented rather than knowledge-oriented. Knowledge is not wisdom – knowledge is theory (know how to do something), wisdom is practice (doing that something).
Be aware that meaning and fulfillment come primarily from the process (activities, action) rather than from results. The results just amplify the joy caused and kept by the process. The journey and not the destination is the main cause of your joy.
It is hard to draw a line between conscious and unconscious processes of your body-mind system, so it is just a relative and methodological distinction.
Resources: Life Sucks, Then You Die.