How To Stay Optimistic During a Downward Spiral

“Wisdom is nothing more than healed pain” – Robert Gary Lee

It happened suddenly. I remembered feeling hopeless, having walked 23 miles from my office to my home in the bitter London weather.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so hopeless having been asked to leave at my job for reasons I couldn’t comprehend. It brought back memories of my childhood having felt different from everyone else.

I knew I had things inside me to communicate yet felt as though my problems couldn’t be understood.

I knew there was something wrong with my life and sat on a nearby bench contemplating what it could be; wondering whether who I was, was fit for the world.

For the first time, my downward spiral took a dip. I felt useless and unable to figure out why.

I eventually began to ask myself questions

Something inside of me knew what the problem was and yet I found it difficult to take notice of it. This feeling empowered me and started to see clarity.

I started to notice all the negative self-talk I was giving to myself. All the doubts and fears; the very things that were causing me to feel the way I was.

Here’s what I realised and something to bare in mind:

1) Life is what you make of it

What if life really is open to interpretation?

Granted, we can’t control the things around us, but we can control how we feel towards it. I knew the answers to my problems but refused to take it on board due to my victim mentality and refusing to take responsibility.

I knew at that moment that in order for my situation to change, I had to change.

I can’t change how others would treat me, but I could surely change how I treat myself.

The truth is, the only way we can ever control how others perceive and treat us is through ourselves. No one can label us as accurately as ourselves.

This realization made me understand that all I was ever doing was hurting myself by treating myself irresponsibly.

And this can often be quite difficult to get out of since our negative beliefs and actions begin responding to us from our external surroundings, which eventually creates a negative feedback loop.

2) It all starts from our home

What was it that moved me?

How do other people see me when they look and communicate with me?

What do I want from this world?

What do I hope to give?

All questions I began asking myself, which sparked a new motivation to evolve and rise above from my downward spiral.

3) It was never about others, but about me

I started to build clarity in what I wanted rather than what I didn’t.

Everything is within our power to be and do anything we want. I believe the cause of most depression and anxiety stems from our inability to take control of our lives.

It’s at this stage where most of us get stuck. But the truth is, when you look deep enough, you begin to realize that most of your resources solve whatever problems you may have.

It takes courage to admit this at times, but the truth is always a bitter pill to swallow.

All of the love, courage, compassion and motivation is something we all have. And it’s up to us to realize this on a daily basis. Perhaps, this is why life is the way it is. To make us learn more and more about ourselves.

4) Find ways to express yourself

Having understood my introverted nature and my inability to effectively communicate verbally. I knew I had to find other ways to express myself.

My need for writing and drawing was perhaps the only thing that made me feel better. It allowed me to think and unload everything from my mind, yet provided others with a vehicle to see my thoughts on paper.

What’s your medium of communication?

Whether it’s through music, painting or cycling. Find out what it is and embrace it. We all have an inner gift to shine to the world. It’s after all, why we’re all here.

5) Strength isn’t given. It is built

The more I look back on my struggles, the more I saw it’s true benefits. I never once understood why things were the way they were at the time, but looking back, it was perhaps the greatest gift ever given to me by life.

Like a parent giving tough love to their children, It was all for the best. Yet it gave me the experience to embrace whatever was to come at me with full force.

Have faith that with every storm will come sunshine and warmth. For that’s what life is designed to do. It is never constant, but a journey of self-discovery.



About Onder Hassan

Onder Hassan is a self-confidence enthusiast and passionate about personal growth. He has spent years trying to find ways to improve himself and has since started a self-confidence blog to help document his progress. Sign up for his free YOU 2.0 video course for a step-by-step strategy to overcoming your fears and building powerful belief systems that will take you to the next level. He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

16 Responses to How To Stay Optimistic During a Downward Spiral

  1. UpbeatBrain says:

    Nice work, Onder. When I come across a challenge, I often ask myself: Assuming that everyone else keeps doing the same things, what can I do to make the situation better? Acting on the answer to that question plays a big part in fulfilling the philosophy that you point out: Life is what you make of it. I’m a huge believer in that philosophy. I don’t know if it’s always true, but it’s absolutely true often often to be used as a guiding principle. It’s never let me down.

  2. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks :)
    It’s very true and i agree. I didn’t really come to terms with that until later on when i realized that what i was really going through was actually a blessing and that there was really nothing to be worried about or afraid of.
    It all is really a lesson that we all can learn from and the more of it we experience, the stronger we become as people.

  3. Natalie says:

    Congratulations Onder, on finding a way out of despair and to reverse the spiral. Many people don’t realize that the power is really within them. They can make small changes that turn into big changes over time.

    Something I learned to do is to ask myself 3 questions everyday.
    1) What went wrong today?
    2) What went right today?
    3) What can I learn from this?

    Answer those 3 questions and every day you are taking a step in the direction you want to go in.

  4. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks for the feedback Natalie,
    You’re absolutely right. The best way to have control of your life is by living consciously and being aware of your day to day life. What you suggested is the perfect solution as it forces you to look at your life more carefully, which will in turn help you take control of it.
    Thanks for the tips :)

  5. Good post Onder. It’s difficult to stop a downward spiral. And some spirals can last for years and years. I’ve been there. It’s not fun.

    The turn around must always start with the self. It begins with acceptance and progresses from there.

    It will be a struggle.

    Anyone who says otherwise is lying or trying to sell you something. Or maybe they’ve just never truly been there, in which case they’re talking out of their ass.

    Changing yourself is one of the hardest things you will ever attempt, but it’s the only way out of a downward spiral. No one can lift you out but yourself.


  6. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks Trevor.

    You’re right, it is tough to get out of it, especially when you don’t have anyone around who believe or have faith in you.

    The best thing we all have to realize is that while having people around us is important, in the end, all they can really do is support us. They can’t get us out of our problems. It’s all up to us to do it.

    I think once we’ve experienced what it’s like to achieve in order to prove to ourselves that we’re self-sufficient, that’s when we begin to realize that we’re not as hopeless as we thought we were.

    But above all, it’s all a lesson in humility and to stay humble. Nothing in life is constant and is always a challenge, but it’s also what makes life worth living.

    Thanks again,


  7. Sam Matla says:

    Great post. I view life as a series of cycles, like the seasons come and go. Winter can be cold, horrible, depressing; but Spring is just around the corner.

    Now that doesn’t mean we should sit around and wait, but everyone has to have hope. If you’re stuck in this dark place and have no belief that life is going to change, then you’re screwed.

  8. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks Sam,
    That’s one of the things i realised. Whenever i was in a situation where i felt down and hopeless, i knew that eventually, something good will happen that will turn things all around. Because of that hope, it made things a lot easier to get over.

  9. Thanks for sharing your experiences, Onder and also those of you who have added their observations here.

    It certainly took me many years to not only understand it but really surrender to it and be alright with it. Go with the flow of it, with awareness and acceptance yes that’s the way for me too.

    Interestingly, the downward spiral often times is more rich in gifts than the upward spiral!…. It’s not near as much fun and pleasure, but it’s often more enriching in the long run.

  10. champ says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience & sure I agree that we need to see deep inside as what changes we need to do to live life better. I must admit that I have been told to leave the job and you know how it feels and this is my 3rd job in Row where I have been told to leave- I am not broken and I am thinking deep inside and your article will help me alot to find reason Champ

  11. Farouk says:

    that’s a very important topic, when things get bad some people lose control and everything seems messy,thanks again : )

  12. Matt Maresca says:

    Thanks for sharing Onder. I like what you said about strength being built, not given. Someone once kept telling me I have such an inner strength as if it was this magic thing that I was born with inside me. No, I feel pain just like everyone else. I have my own downward spirals just like everyone else. And they’re no fun at all. But I deal with them and ride the waves, proactively working toward the next bit of positive momentum. I always know I can find it.

  13. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks for your input Halina,

    I know what you mean. It’s always the hardships in life that provide the most enjoyment.

    I really don’t think we’re designed to appreciate an easy life, which is why life’s the way it is. It’s designed in a way to make us work hard for it, which in the end gives us something that’s worth far more than anything we can imagine.

    For me, it’s built character, values and humbleness knowing that i’m not perfect and have to work at things like everyone else.

    This could possibly be the subject for a new post :)

  14. Onder Hassan says:

    Thanks Matt,

    Exactly, we all have inner strength. But like everything we have, for it to be stronger, it needs exercising and hard work.

    All of us will feel down at times, but it’s in those moments that will give us all the opportunity to really shine and to discover things about ourselves that we never could have done had it been easy.

  15. Great point, Onder. I’m looking forward to that new post – and I’m sure others will too. :-)

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