I need a pep talk
January 13, 2016 5:32 PM   Subscribe

What are some essays, books, podcasts, art - anything - that brings you back from a low point?

You've hit a bottom or you just are in a bad spell, what are your fall backs to bring you back to life? I am especially interested in anything that pertains to relationships with others, with yourself, lack of friendships, weight gain. Guys I'm sad - not depressed, promise - just sad. Please send me some encouragement.
posted by xicana63 to Human Relations (28 answers total) 68 users marked this as a favorite
Another Round is great all the time, but the episode on Anxiety was a really special one I thought. I'm not an inspirational quote person, pretty much the exact opposite. But they have some in this episode that really touched me.
posted by SarahElizaP at 5:45 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Joanna Newsom's album The Milk-Eyed Mender. YMMV.
posted by dilaudid at 5:55 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Onbeing is a good radio show/blog that seems grounded while acknowledging that life is both difficult but oftentimes beautiful and joyful.
posted by aetg at 6:07 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Personally, I like trite yet inspiring aphorisms/quotations - they work for me. I save them into one word document and refer to them periodically.

One of my favorites when I was going through great (unasked for and unexpected) change in my life was by Anis Nin: "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." It made me feel like I had some agency in the decisions being made by other people that impacted my life; I certainly couldn't change their choices but I could make them my own in some fashion by how I reacted. Maybe the quote speaks to you too?

I hope you feel more like yourself soon and I'm sending some encouragement your way.
posted by youdontmakefriendswithsalad at 6:10 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

This song is my pep talk.

I'm sad - not depressed, promise - just sad.

It's okay to be depressed too, you know.

posted by mudpuppie at 6:12 PM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Gloria Anzaldua's "Now Let Us Shift" was absolutely wonderful and healing to read, and gained me back a sense of my body and my autonomy and the journey I am on.

I also like Pema Chodron, I finished "When Things Fall Apart" and really appreciated her advice to 'lean into your difficult emotions' and that our inner wisdom is there if we listen and sit with our feelings. There are some quotes here that would be helpful, and if you like it, you can find the book. (some of the examples are a little "uum" but the overall teachings are lovely.)

Virgie Tovar is a riot, and an amazing fat POC feminist activist. I love reading her because she has so much life and fierceness that helps give me a kick back in my step when I am feeling down.
posted by yueliang at 6:16 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

The movie Shirley Valentine and other films about taking initiative and making change.
posted by chapps at 6:22 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

Also, I basically read Tiny Buddha daily because it is a form of self-maintenence, since I get down very easily and need constant reminders and affirmations that I am moving forward positively. This article is one I read when I was feeling rock bottom.

I love Ella Fitzgerald, since I think she sings peacefully about hard experiences, this is my favorite compilation on Spotify. I also love listening to beautiful ambient music, since I find it helps guide me towards a kinder place towards thinking about myself and where I am. Spotify has some really nice playlists in the "Focus" and "Sleep" Browse section, I like "Instrumental Study" and "Deep Sleep".

My friend uses a very pleasant "Jeff Buckley" artist station on Pandora that is always mesmerizing. Another friend loves listening to Erykah Badu and Ana Tijoux when they're down. Two other friends listen to Nina Simone and watched her Netflix documentary. Sending much love and encouragement, and I appreciate you reaching out for help and resources <3
posted by yueliang at 6:28 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

It is a stupid, stupid movie about friendship and I always watch it when I'm sick and feeling crappy and I just love it.
posted by phunniemee at 7:02 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like listening to storytelling podcasts like The Moth, Risk, and Snap Judgment. They remind me that everyone else is having a weird/sad/crazy life too, and I'm not alone.

I'm also reading Pema Chodrun's When Things Fall Apart which is not exactly cheerful, and I admit it does make me cry, but it also feels very honest and healing for me.

This is a question I posted when I was super stressed and wanted things that would make me forget my troubles and laugh. People came through with lots of great answers.

I hope things get better for you soon, OP.
posted by bunderful at 7:24 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Alan Watts' Man in Nature. Anything Alan Watts.

It's less pep talk and more philosophy but - it works for me. There's a whole app of Alan Watts podcasts you can download.
posted by sweetkid at 7:31 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

"Do It Anyway" by Ben Folds Five.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:01 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Polyphonic Spree. Especially 2000 Places. Also, reading Terry Pratchett or Sherlock Holmes.
posted by irisclara at 8:09 PM on January 13, 2016

I have found a lot of inspiration in the New York Public Library's podcast, but the one with Rupaul really hit home for me in terms of living the life one wants and not caring what other people think. I love On Being and Dear Sugar too, I always walk away from those feeling good about the world. I also like Reply All, but more because it is funny and distracts me from real life.
posted by momochan at 8:21 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

A song that samples the Numma Numma guy and features Rihanna?

Hard to get a better pep talk than T.I.'s Live Your Life
posted by z11s at 9:11 PM on January 13, 2016

Yes! Pema Chodron!

I'm sorry to hear you're sad. This worked for me just the other day: A Pep Talk from Kid President to You.
posted by jessca84 at 9:11 PM on January 13, 2016

I feel like this might have come from mefi? Helpful for me, single serving, mini-motivational speeches - The Pep Talk Generator
posted by ellieBOA at 10:10 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

If I want to be happy for an hour or two I can meditate and reflect.

If I want to be happy for three or four hours I can take a nap.

If I want to be happy for five or six hours I can take an extreme bike ride.

If I want to be happy for a day, sometimes two, I can go to a museum, (or, hopefully, all of the museums in whatever city it is that I find myself.)

If I want to be happy for a week I can buy a new truck.

If I want to be happy for a month I can get married.

But if I want to be happy over the long term, I know that I've got to dig deep. I've certainly done it before, any number of times, and I need to do so now. I'm this huge mess right now, and have been for a long while, and while some of it is out of my control a lot of it is not -- it's facing facts and taking action.

I hate that part.


I can read Marcus Aurelius, the translation by Maxwell Staniforth is best IMO. I just love Marc; he was a stoic but not a grump about it, just that he laid it out. (He wasn't writing it to be read, it was just his reflections on life, notes to himself.) I'll read him and get to laughing my ass off, at the impossibility of living to the ideals he espouses, and loving that he cops to not being able to living up to them either but that we've got to try. What a dick! I love him.

Music is vital. We are incredibly lucky to live in a time where we can listen to just all kinds of music, all of the music ever recorded can fit on a big honkin' hard drive, all the music you could ever listen to in your entire life fit on a card the size of your fingernail. It's magic! Lasers and shit -- how cool is that? Answer: Very. I've been listening tonight to Evan Johns and The H-Bombs, a hugely rocking rollicking rolling outfit, a jumpstart for me, great fun on those bike rides from hell, mp3 player turned to 11. Or I can listen to something just as intense but written three hundred years ago and performed by the most talented musicians on the planet. Or if I need to be soothed and pleased and quieted and uplifted what is better than Kind Of Blue? Answer: Nothing.

I'm going on and it's late and I've got to stop, I've gone out into the night (to the ER -- long story) and back and I've cut this some and gonna hit "Post" soon I hope.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:28 PM on January 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Gunnerkrigg Court is such a fantastic, fantastic webcomic. Queer characters, funny subversions of tropes, and such deep emotional heart. I've recommended it two times on other AskMeFi posts that have asked for media to get through hard times, and I will continue to recommend it, because it's just really great.
posted by yueliang at 12:04 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Ackee 1 2 3, by The English Beat
posted by Sara Anne at 12:19 AM on January 14, 2016

The intro's (and conversation's too!) to the Duncan Trussel Family Hour podcast!!!

He's a comedian, but also someone that studies consciousness and spirituality. A brief example? In early December we had this horrible mass shooting in San Bernadino California that directly impacted me on several levels. I don't remember if it's the intro to Ep 177 or 178 - but basically at the same time this horrible thing was happening - I became aware that via listening to his intro, there were a bunch of cool folks at a Ram Dass Retreat focusing on Love and Benevolence. His intro was irreverent and insightful, and I cried and felt better. The world isn't entirely descending into shit. Plenty of people, maybe even a majority, still have The Right Idea. That shit gives me hope.

Also, he's funny. So that's a plus.

I hear there is an amazing interview he had with his mom before she passed away. I'm saving that for the rainiest of days. I'm sure I'll have one of those, I'm glad to keep this nugget in my back pocket until I really need it.

Your answer is Duncan Trussel. A person who struggles like you do and discusses it with fab folks like Jack Kornfield. Because that's how he rolls. Don't deprive yourself, he's on iTunes and the Internet. Enjoy.
posted by jbenben at 1:41 AM on January 14, 2016

I advise you to listen to this
posted by thelonius at 2:25 AM on January 14, 2016

By making the commitment to focus on self-compassion. I tend to say to myself 'I am in recovery' to lower my expectations of myself. If I am in recovery then just breathing calmly is an accomplishment. It's a useful narrative to keep in mind instead of 'I should be way over there but instead i'm still here'. It's a matter of acknowledging your "journey" so far. You have fallen and you are piecing yourself together which takes time. You are recovering not from 'failure' but from your expectations of yourself which are likely to be stratospherically non-human (even if that expectation is 'never falling off the wagon').

Someone recommended Pema Chodron and I don't have any sort of link (youtube is heavily restricted at the library) but if you look for 'metta bhavana' meditation which deals with compassion for yourself then for others with the refrain 'may i/she/he/all beings be well'. Here is an mp3 link of such a mediation. I also really recommend Ajahn Brahm's talks. There are lots of them on youtube and on this website.

If you find compassion towards yourself difficult (which I do sometimes), you can do what I do which may seem counter-compassionate but so what? I imagine someone who is going through something similar then I imagine another person berating them with the words I use. Wouldn't you want to protect that person and knock the asshole to the ground? I then want to protect myself like that. So every time I might imagine someone saying something that isn't progressive like they may have done in the past such as 'you can't have that, life isn't that easy' then I just think 'no thank you' and breathe through it. These are not my beliefs. They are someone else's. I reject the thought, gently. I remember what it was to be a child and how my "pure" mind became poisoned through my environment and I decide that I do not want to carry that with me. I should point out that it might not be words with you but images. You may think of certain events but then it's good to ask: 'why would I hurt myself like this?' A thing happened (maybe). Does it need to be replayed? Do I need to accept what it is telling me? How am I framing this? How would someone else frame it?

I can't work out whether you're trying to 'escape' (i.e. comedy links would be useful here), deal with disappointment as a philosophical/spiritual/psychological idea or deal with the specific subject matter at hand (e.g. weight loss motivation). It sounds like you need compassion, though.

Sometimes it's ok to just wallow in your own shit until you're sick of yourself.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 3:18 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like:
* articles on Marc and Angel Hack Life
* poems by Mary Oliver, like Wild Geese and Snow Geese
* videos and articles by Brene Brown
posted by belladonna at 5:22 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I have been using this song for this.
posted by aaanastasia at 6:04 AM on January 14, 2016

I have a playlist on Spotify that I use. I call it "Start the Day Right". It's great for Saturday morning cooking-in-boxers-while-jamming sessions, but it also works when I need a pick-me-up. Just fun, silly, classic songs.
Start The Day Right Playlist
posted by kinkyace at 6:35 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Maybe try The Happiness Project podcast, along with the related books and blog. Good luck!
posted by jennyesq at 11:34 AM on January 14, 2016

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