It’s Okay To Have A Bad Day
November 26, 2012 2 Comments
Everybody is going to have a bad day at some point. Disappointment is going to happen – the challenge is to not let it consume us.
Being in a bad mood or having a bad day isn’t so… bad… and everyone goes through it. The challenge comes when we keep dwelling on something that has happened. Face disappointment or problems – yes. Dwell on them – no.
When something bad happens it’s tempting to hang onto the ‘story’ we play in our mind about the situation… and we replay the story over and over in our head. Hearing the never-ending discrediting tape telling us we are wrong, bad, inferior (or worse), doesn’t make it better – it creates suffering and sends us spiraling down the rabbit hole called ‘gloom’. This spiraling thought process makes overcoming the situation very difficult.
I don’t mean ignore it. A popular children movie about a lion cub suggests the answer is as simple as the Swahili phrase Hakuna Matata meaning “There are no worries” and to forget your troubles. I’m not so comfortable with that.
Pain is pain – but suffering is an internal experience – something we do to ourselves. Feeling bad is a normal human experience. It’s the retelling of our experience – the ‘story‘ of our perceived deficiency that causes suffering and does not allow us to move forward.
What do we do when we have a bad day when we start to ‘feel’ the pressure of the gloom? How do we overcome the rabbit hole? We need a process to get through the next hour, day – hopefully not week. Mindfulness can help us become acutely aware of two things 1. The trigger… 2. Our instinctive / knee-jerk reaction. By being aware of these and starting to see them as external stimuli, we become empowered to respond to them logically, not emotionally. When we respond logically, we can identify solutions – and even opportunities to learn. When we respond emotionally we risk making the situation worse and falling down the rabbit hole.
Whatever the source of our bad day might be (crunch time at work, a project that went off the rails, tension with a co-worker), we need to know that it will get better.
- Know that whatever it is, it’s only a moment in time – we can get through this, it will get better and things will be good again. Consider (if possible) the situation is learning experience so we can minimize the negative impact and even in some way benefit.
- Face it – don’t try to ignore it or mask it with other stimuli like watching TV or having a few drinks because when we turn off the other stimuli, the challenge will still be there.
- When we face them, face them as specific issues, situations. We want to respond with attention and awareness vs. react with the emotional baggage we bring to personal situations. Consider yourself a third-party observer, it may help us see and implement a practical solution.
- Avoid lying in bed all day. This leaves us with our gloomy thoughts – playing them over and over again in our mind…. and that’s not healthy or going to make the situation better.
- Try not to binge on junk food or any other habit that will make you feel guilty. This will just make it worse.
- Don’t listen to the people who say “Try harder.” or “You’re not trying.” It’s not their place – they don’t know. Trying harder isn’t going to stop a bad day or bad mood.
- Sure, a deadline might have been missed and someone may have a right to be disappointed – so accept this, acknowledge this for the other person, but what we need to do is find a solution to the problem. Dwelling on it isn’t going to do anyone any good.
- Say “I’m sorry” – even to yourself, this will go a long way.
- We don’t have any concern telling someone when we are having a great day – so, we should let people know when we’re having a bad day. If they know they might cut us some slack – or purchase us a surprise latte and ‘SNAP’ that starts to pick up our mood.
- Get some help from a professional – help is a good thing.
Identify negative feelings quickly and manage those feelings and the situation instead of responding by getting more emotional and layering more feelings onto an already sensitive emotional situation.
When we have a bad day it’s not about getting sad – we all do. It’s about recognizing our feelings and turning our mindful awareness into choices. What we do with our feelings is choice. It’s not about denying or suppressing feelings… and it’s not about getting caught in a vortex of recurring thought and self-deprecation. We want to avoid feeling bad about feeling bad.
One way to climb out of the rabbit hole is to plan one step… not the whole journey. Use mindfulness and awareness to discover a path forward will help tomorrow be a better day. Add kindness to our mood and kindness to ourselves.
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