Of course we’re all going to have them. While I do know people who seem to skate through planet Earth with little negative occurring (they exist, I promise. Amazes me too!), most of our lives are a mix of the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, times of soaring on mountain peaks and trudging up to them.
Just how life is.
And while we learn to mediate the less-than-stellar days by processing them with a positive mind frame, well, sometimes you just have had a bad day.
No need to sugar coat it.
Which actually does more harm than good. While yes, learning to analyze events and take out the personal and pervasive and permanent parts of it, a la Martin Seligman, Ph.D.’s work, not acknowledging a setback or series of them is lying to yourself. And we all know where that leads!
A setback causes us all to have times of temporary helplessness. Comes with the territory. As Mike Tyson said, “Everybody has a plan. Until you get hit in the face.”
That still just resonates with me!
And sometimes you’re just plain having a bad day.
You know the ones—where you spilled your coffee first thing. The new puppy peed on the carpet (again). Or one of the other dogs or kids while not sick, just isn’t acting right (just enough to worry you). The boss yelled at you for no reason. The Internet isn’t working (again). The project that was going so swimmingly flat stalled. Just a series of things where you want to stick your head back under the pillow and sleep!
The oddest thing here happens as well, specifically to folks who have committed to changing their lives, to going from a pessimistic mindset to an optimistic one. It’s the ultimate irony, really, as those committed to their pessimistic paths don’t do this!
But let one of those ratty times come and what does a learning optimist do?
Beat herself up for a) having that bad day in the first place (“if we create our own realities, I must have caused this by my previous thoughts”), and b) that we succumbed to the negative emotions (“see, I’ll never get this! I’m the cosmic fluke!”).
And you know, even that’s okay. Sometimes you just have to descend down to the bottom of the pity pot before you can turn yourself around and climb back out. I’m a big believer in digging to the very core of issues anyway.
But the reality is (and of course, once you calm down you begin to see this) that sometimes despite all your best efforts, as my friend and retired minister Charlotte Dunhill often says, a bag of coal gets left on your doorstep.
So maybe you caused the events, and behold! Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you’re not as powerful as you thought you were in the first place J So before you dig that hole out deeper (and not to eradicate the wound!), the first task is to stop digging.
The funniest one for me though is b. A slip! I succumbed! Oh, my, God! I’m still human!
That always makes me laugh. Oh, yeah, I actually am human, with all the failings and foibles of our less-than-perfect species. And then I remember the Buddha was fat (okay, sometimes can’t help myself), Jesus got really mad and turned over the money-changers’ tables (I mean, if he could get that angry—post enlightenment—well then, maybe there’s hope for me!), Krishna helped Arjun in a war against his own siblings (have had the lovely opportunity to deal with this one), well then, okay. Maybe I’m not that cosmic fluke. Maybe I’m just a student on the path.
So when a bad day arrives, which it will, let all those petty emotions arise. Give them voice. All of them. And then begin that process (which of course can be arduous) of forgiving yourself and letting them go. Burn them.
Because when the smoke clears, the energy from those flames will propel you right back on track.
Use whatever means in your toolbox to effect that. My mom (one of the wisest humans I’ve ever known) used to quote Scarlett O’Hara at these times: “After all, tomorrow is another day”
How do you get through the bad ones?