Don’t get down

We’ve all had ‘em.

Days where everything that could go wrong, somehow does.

Every sales call ends in a “no.” Every meeting goes wrong, and it always seems to be your fault. Even your best clients, closest friends or family members suddenly seem like they’re no longer on your side.

No one can control when a bad day will decide to come along and make our lives miserable. What we can control, is how we choose to respond when it does happen.

Do we make a bad day worse by indulging in negative self-talk? Take out our frustration on everyone around us? Try to make ourselves feel better by chain-smoking, binging on chocolate cake or shopping for a new pair of shoes?

Or do we decide to use these “character building days” as an opportunity to take action, and make a real change in our behaviors that could help us improve our performance, achieve our goals – or simply enjoy life more?

Take care of yourself so you can take care of the problem

Society teaches us to be strong, keep a stiff upper lip and never let them see you sweat.

The only problem is, if you go through life denying your negative emotions, you also run the risk of becoming numb to all the good things in your life. Before you know it, you’re walking around in a trance, completely unaware of how you feel or what you are experiencing.

There’s an important difference between owning your negative feelings and dwelling on them. Feelings are energy. The more you deny them, the more they will push for recognition.

It’s okay to feel helpless, unloved, depressed, lonely, insecure, afraid, confused or lost. Everyone has these feelings from time to time.

By giving yourself permission to acknowledge this fact, you release yourself from the pressure to be perfect that can lead to long-term problems like depression, illness or anger.

Plus, by freeing yourself from the negative tension, you’ll be much better equipped to consider your challenge objectively and come up with an effective solution to resolve it.

Cultivate your “skill of awareness”

The first thing to do on days when you’re feeling overwhelmed by work, the weather, your family – or just by life – is to admit to yourself that your day is spiraling out of your control, and that you are likely not in a resourceful or beneficial state of mind.

I call this ability to recognize the early warning signs of burnout the “skill of awareness.” Once you’re aware that, Houston, you may have a problem, you need to do for yourself what you’d be only too willing to do for others: give yourself permission to create an emotional foxhole and retreat from the world for a short time to regroup.

My advice is to do something proactive and nurturing.

Go to the movies. Read a favorite book. Listen to uplifting music or a CD program that reminds you of your personal power. Go for a workout, go fishing, take a bubble bath, meditate, garden, take a nice, long walk – whatever will make you feel happy, relieve a little stress and put you in a more positive state of mind.

I’d also like to share with you a few of the ways I’ve learned over the years to deal with those down days. Just remember – don’t take what I have to say verbatim. These are my “adult Linus’ blankets,” not yours. Instead, use these tips as a starting point, and then mold and shape them to suit your own personality and needs.

The important thing is to give yourself permission to acknowledge that you are experiencing a difficult time in your life. Then do something proactive to change your perception and help alleviate the stress you’re experiencing.

Five positive ways to deal with “Character Building Days”

1. Go to a quiet, peaceful place where you can be alone. If you can’t physically get away, try imagining yourself in your favorite place in the world, your personal mental Shangri-la – under a forest canopy of trees, canoeing in a crystal-clear lake, on top of a spectacular mountain peak or walking along a gentle shoreline. The University of Delaware has done studies proving that imagining a quiet, natural scene in your mind can significantly reduce your stress in the real world.

2. Take a deep breath. Breathing deeply several times can help slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure and allow you to feel in control again. Breathing is also an effective form of muscle relaxation.

3. Replace negative self-talk with a more reassuring and positive internal dialogue. Much of the stress we feel is a result of our own thoughts telling us how worthless, undeserving or unsuccessful we are. The good news is, if we can think ourselves into a stressful state, then we can also think ourselves into a feeling of relaxation. Some useful declarations to tell yourself are:

“I am calm and cool under all circumstances;”

“I am in control of my life;”

“I can let go and relax;”

“I am in control of all my thoughts and actions;”

“I am effective and efficient in stressful situations;”

“I love and honor myself;” and

“I have a positive attitude and can handle myself in all situations.”

4. Give yourself a reward. This can be anything that helps you feel that you are special! And always keep in mind that the one good thing about bad days is that they don’t last. Don’t let your state of mind control you. Love yourself, and remember that this, too, shall pass.

5. Be grateful for what is good in your life right now. There is nothing like a little gratitude to help remind you that, no matter how bad your day is right now, you have far too many positive things in your life to let it get you down forever.

Always look on the bright side of life…

If there’s one universal, undeniable truth I’ve learned in my career, it’s this: what you focus on expands. So be conscious enough to focus on the blessings you have instead of the negatives.

The truth is, no matter how badly your day is going, there are millions of people around the world who would consider you one of the luckiest people on earth.

Whether you choose to go looking for the good things in your life or the bad, the one thing I can guarantee is that you’re going to find them. It’s up to you to decide which aspects of your life you want to seek out today.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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