Whether the day is a good day, the month a good month, or the year a good year, is all a matter of choosing the right perspective.
The sun hovers over the ocean in front of me, casting beams of light down through the clouds as it makes its accent and a brand new day begins. The color of the ocean is several shades of blue today – a bright turquoise as it touches the white sand just a few feet away, changing to a richer blue as it begins to drop off, then darkens to a deep cobalt.
The view is mesmerizing, the breeze warm and soft on my face, and the only sound is the waves lapping gently against the shore. To anyone looking on from the outside it is such a peaceful setting – then how come I cannot conjure up this same sense of tranquility within? Most days I wake up optimistic and ready to conquer the day. Not today though. Even as I am surrounded by light and warmth, my insides feel dark and stormy. My body feels anxiety brewing; my heart hurts from a conversation I had with a grieving friend; my head stews over a problem at work.
Let’s face it. Though well intentioned, none of us go through life unscathed. We are not promised it will always be easy here on this earth. There will be situations that disappoint us, and problems we can’t solve. There will be days it feels like too much and we find ourselves in a negative place. Can you relate to this?
Here are five steps you can take to push reset when you are having one of those days:
1. Accept the Feeling
It is ok. When you are feeling sad, anxious, angry, or scared, simply recognize the emotion. There is nothing you need to do. Try not to fight the emotion, and at the same time you don’t have to let it consume you. Move from “I am anxious” to “I am feeling anxious.” You can be the observer of the feeling – “oh, that is anxiety.”
A word picture that is helpful to me is as follows:
Imagine you are standing at the window inside of your warm house. Outside it is pouring down rain. You stand at the window watching the rain come down in torrents, drenching everything in sight. Yet, you stand inside, warm and dry. Like someone watching a rain storm outside the window versus being in the rain, you can be an observer of your emotions versus being “in” the emotion. You are not the feeling, and it does not define you.
2. Let It Go
Though not always easy, you can choose to let these negative thoughts go. Your mind is very powerful. You can change your thinking away from things that are bringing you down and transform yourself by the renewing of your mind.
Invite peace of mind. You cannot find peace of mind when you are feeling a strong emotion. Often these negative emotions will have your mind thinking that you are not safe. There is likely no danger or immediate threat, but you have worked up your mind to believe and feel it is so. By telling yourself you are safe you can allow yourself to relax and be present.
Take a series of breaths. Breathing is a very helpful method to calm anxious thoughts and replace them with new and better ones. How do you want to face the day? Set an intention for yourself. Take a deep breath in through your nose – as you do this imagine yourself filling with warmth and peace. As you breathe out through your mouth, release the negative emotion you are feeling. Breathe in warmth and peace, breathe out all of the negative energy. Let it go as you breathe out – all the way down your body and out through your toes.
3. Turn Your Mind to the Positive
Now it is time to reframe your thinking by turning your mind to positive things. If you are always looking at your problems, your problems will overwhelm you. When you focus on the negative you create a neuro pathway that hardens over time. The good news is you can change this. You have the power to change your brain and create new positive neuro pathways. You will find that often your psychological pain is self-inflicted.
So, fill your mind with positive messages. As you focus on positive thoughts you will create new pathways in your brain. It takes time to master these skills, and if you practice they can become second nature. You can learn to respond rather than react in every situation.
Find the good things about the day and claim them. Say them out loud. Even better, write them down:
- It is a beautiful day.
- I slept well.
- I am glad for my work that challenges me.
4. Affirm Yourself
Too often you are your own worst enemy through critical, self-sabotaging thoughts. You can’t have a positive life with a negative mind. Reverse this with positive affirmations.
Is there a negative thought holding you back? It is likely a lie you are telling yourself. It may be something just for today or a story line you have carried for years. A helpful process is to write this negative thought down. Now rewrite the thought as a positive truth.
Pour over yourself words of affirmation like a warm shower running over your body.
- My body is strong and healthy
- I am a compassionate person
- I am a caring leader
Affirm others. Even if you disagree with them. Remain open and curious.
5. Do Something Restoring
When you are having a bad day, take time to be kind to yourself with an activity that is restoring or rejuvenating. A positive activity will do wonders to change your perspective on the day. You likely know something you can do that brightens your mood and makes you feel better. Here are a few examples:
- Exercise – Exercise is not only good for your health it gets your endorphins going, which are the brains “happy pill.” When your body releases the chemical endorphins they trigger a positive feeling in the body.
- Coffee with a Friend – Has it been awhile since you have had a nice catch up session with a good friend? Invite someone to coffee or lunch at one of your favorite spots.
- Say Thank You. Take just a couple of minutes to write a positive note to someone you know. It can be a simple thank you; a compliment; or a word of appreciation. When you do something nice for someone else it does something wonderful for them, and it will make you feel better too.
Everyone will have bad days. The circumstances you face will not always be your choice, but your attitude and perspective on them is.
Peace of mind is available to you anywhere at any time. No matter what the circumstances, know that peace is always there for you. You have the power to choose your mind state.
You have the power to push reset and make today a good day.