What to do When You’re Stuck in a Funk

(Hint, don’t do anything)

Jen Hill
6 min readJul 24, 2020
Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

Are you in a funk? Blue, moody, melancholy for no significant reason? And no matter what you do, you can’t seem to snap out of it?

Here’s something I learned in my most recent experience: don’t do anything.

Let me explain.

(Cue backstory.)

It was early June 2020 when I started feeling low. Of course it made a little sense, I was having relationship issues, and the long-term stress of a global pandemic could have been getting to me.

Still, spring was turning into summer in Prague, the lockdown had been lifted, only a few restrictions remained. My work as an English (as a Foreign Language) teacher was picking up again. There were many reasons to be grateful, and happy. I was grateful, yes. But I wasn’t happy.

I’m normally a cheerful person. I have fulfilling work as a teacher, I live in Prague, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, I have a rich community of caring friends, and I have more time for my cherished hobbies (including writing long novels, just for kicks). There was very little reason to feel the way I did, day after day.

You know the feeling. Dull. Listless. Heavy. Empty. Numb. All the lustre had gone from my eyes; I couldn’t perceive the world in the same way anymore. When a colleague asked what was wrong, I couldn’t even answer. I had no words (and I’m a writer, words usually come when I call).

I felt caught in an uncomfortable vortex of entropy, and I wanted any way out!

In the past, I would have delved into self-inquiry, journaling to find out why. I would have made this my focus in my meditation practice. I would have talked to trusted friends and family members. Probing, poking, prodding. Anything, really, to get to the bottom of it! After all, there must be some reason! The sooner I knew why, the sooner it would go away!

(By the way, that’s incorrect.)

This June, I decided to do something radically different, thanks to my contemplative reading of the Gene Keys by Richard Rudd. I found I had a better understanding of entropy and what it meant for me. I also had faith that, within this shadow of a funk, I would find a gift.

Need a refresher? Entropy is a measure of the disorder or unavailability of energy in a closed system. More entropy means less available energy for doing work. Humans manifest entropy by this exact state: numbness, emptiness, listlessness, funk.

It is very uncomfortable. And we humans do not like feeling uncomfortable. We’d do anything to save ourselves from discomfort. Eating, shopping, drinking, smoking, binge-watching Netflix, whatever could temporarily lift us from troubles! In the case of entropy, our very efforts to pull ourselves out are inevitably in vain: it is a black hole that sucks all our effort and laughs at us in return.

Yet, in the Gene Keys, Richard promised that “numbness is actually an extremely fertile state of awareness.” I’m like Fox Mulder. I want to believe.

So here’s what I did instead of following every old pattern of behaviour: I did nothing.

Let me break down my process of nothingness, so you may understand. I’ll use a metaphor to do it.

Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay
  1. Noticing and Naming: Entropy comes to my flat in Prague. Unexpected. Unwelcome. Like a friend of a friend who only wants to see the castle and drink the beer, all while staying for free at my place.

Notice what you are feeling. Recognise it by naming it. Journaling may be useful. “I feel blah today. I feel sad. It feels heavy in my stomach. I’m not sleeping well. What’s going on?”

2. Allow and Accept: Okay, entropy, I wasn’t expecting you. But now that you’re here, you can come in. I’ll have to wash the sheets before you can sleep in them. You look tired, would you like a coffee? (Meanwhile, in text to bestie: You wouldn’t believe who just showed up! WTF?!)

Entropy is a chemical process the body enters into. It comes suddenly and will leave just as suddenly. Now that you’ve named it, allow it space. You don’t have to like it. You can feel angry, sad, frustrated. It’s all okay. Everything you feel is permitted. Just accept that it has come.

3. Embrace through patience and trust: I’ll make you comfortable here, entropy, no questions asked. Do I have plans? No, no. I’ll spend time with you. We don’t know each other all that well, so this is a great opportunity

Some withdrawal and alone time could be helpful; consider stepping away from social engagements and other distractions. However, don’t ask questions or try to fix it! Don’t pester your houseguest with ‘whys’. Stay gentle and calm, full of self-care. Exercise patience and gratitude. Ask your loved ones to support you without asking questions, either. Their presence is enough. Feel the funk. Feel the feels. Feel all of it.

4. And wait: You’ve been here a while, entropy, but that’s okay. You’re still welcome. There’s plenty of coffee. Okay, we can switch to beer. I’ve got a great 11 degree lager in the fridge we can share. (Reader, if you don’t know what an 11 degree beer is, you should come visit Prague.) Don’t worry, entropy, I’ve got time for you still. I’ve learned that there is always time for all good things.

This is the greatest challenge of all. To let this state sink into you fully, to flow through you and take you inevitably to the other side. Non-resistance is crucial. Cultivate trust in yourself, and trust in the universe; this is only a cycle, and therefore will end. Resisting it will only prolong it. Surrender to it, dance with it. Give it the minimum mental attention possible. Find gratitude for it. And wait.

5. Open the Gift: Wait, what? You’re leaving? Yes, you can stay a day or two longer while you find someplace else. Oh. Oh, that’s it. Well, thank you for coming, entropy. For me? What’s inside? Okay, I’ll open it later. You can come again, you know. You’re welcome here.

Entropy can pass quickly, within the span of a day. You’ll notice lightness, freshness, expansiveness. Just think, all this time, something intangible was gestating inside you, in this fertile field. Out of the darkness comes the light.

And whatever comes out of this particular field of funk is fresh, and full of creative fire. It wants to be expressed by the only human who understands it fully: You.

When my personal period of entropy ended, it did so rather suddenly. Plagued by insomnia, I was awake at 3 o’clock in the morning on the second last day of June. (I’m very patient with insomnia, because I know I’ll get through my day somehow. I always do.) And at 5 am, just as the sun was rising, I felt lighter.

And I thought, Everything is okay.

Expansiveness rippled through me. A sense of abundance and joy. I felt intimately, deeply connected with a loving Universe. A Universe that sent me darkness in the form of soil around a seed, knowing that I would eventually sprout again.

Everything is okay.

What a beautiful sentiment! I emerged in my city with fresh eyes full of characteristic lustre. The crumbling sidewalk? Okay. The wasp near my picnic table? Okay. The fact that my student keeps making the same mistake? Okay. Taking the bus across the city? More than okay. Buying fresh carrots at the farmer’s market? Beautiful. Beer with friends? Beyond words.

Everything and everyone I see has a special light. Everything I do is marked by grace. And beauty, true beauty is everywhere I look.

Only you can unpack the profound gift that is nestling inside your numbness, your personal funk. Emotional suffering creates conditions for transcendence. And once you have your gift, its expression will bring delight and joy not only to yourself, but to those around you.

Things to remember when you feel strangled by your unwelcome houseguest:

  • This is just the low end of an oscillation. And life is a dance between oscillations.
  • This is just inner weather. It happens to be cloudy. Sit back, relax, look at the clouds.
  • There is a place for all feelings in your body. Make all feelings welcome, even the uncomfortable ones. Notice what you feel. Name it.
  • This takes time. You have lots. You have power, time, and love enough for all good things. You are, after all, an abundant being.

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Jen Hill

Just a girl in Prague, writing about love, teaching, and spirituality. I enjoy shamanism, writing novels, and drinking craft beer.