Just like everyone else in this world, I have my fair share of bad days. And thanks to my anxiety, I’m an expert at making bad days out of perfectly OK ones as well. But lately, I’ve been trying to do something new for myself. I’ve been trying to learn how to accept the bad days along with the good ones. And, I can safely say, it’s one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do in my life.
Not only is accepting the good old “sometimes you’re the pigeon, sometimes you’re the statue” a difficult thing to do, but it turns out, it takes quite a lot of bravery as well.
We’re so often taught to take things in our stride, to hold our chin up, and to look on the bright side, that we’ve somehow become programmed into thinking that having a bad day is not all right. But let me tell you: having a bad day is not just OK. It’s an inevitable and necessary part of life.
Here’s how I make mine a tad more bearable.
Emotions 101: How to Understand the Incomprehensible
When I’m having a hard time dealing with the goings-on in my life, I try to ask myself that tried and tested question all therapists adore:
“How does this situation make you feel?”
The easiest way to do this is by tracking my daily feelings. During some periods, I do this in a dedicated section of my journal. Others, I use an app like Tangerine. In truth, the method doesn’t matter. What’s essential is that I pinpoint my negative emotions instead of just saying: “I’m having the worst day.”
But, what I do differently from before is that I try not to stop at defining my emotions. I also try to dig a little bit deeper and identify their cause. Sometimes, this will be easy. If I’ve had a poor night’s sleep because of breathing issues or am going through PMS, I’ll usually know what’s getting me down.
However, there will be times when getting to the bottom of my emotions doesn’t go as easy.
For example, I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by things that I have no control over. In these cases, I have to dig deeper and consider if I’m frustrated by the happenings in question. More often than not, I realize that my struggle stems from not being able to impact the situation.
Even though this conclusion may not seem like a solution, it actually works pretty well for me. How? Well, it reminds me that, while I can’t control whether I’m having a bad day or not, I can adjust my reaction to the challenges in question.
Finding Something to Be Grateful for
Over the last few months of learning how to deal with less-than-perfect circumstances, the one thing that I found to really work for me was shifting my perspective. Not in the sense of ignoring or suppressing the things that were causing me to feel bad. But in the sense of trying to find something good in every situation.
Of course, I’d done this before. When I neared the end of my recovery from burnout, I understood that the happenings leading up to it helped me start a new, more self-loving chapter of my life. But, it’s safe to say that finding good in the bad is much easier when done in retrospect. When you challenge yourself to do it as the bad things are happening, it can be a real effort.
What works for me, again, has to do with my journal. Basically, at the end of each daily entry, I reserve a few lines dedicated to one good thing that happened on the day.
Sometimes, it’s awesome, like doing a great job on a project I’m passionate about or getting to spend time with my family. Other times, it’s something entirely small, like nailing the milk-to-coffee ratio in my morning cup.
Sure, that’s not huge or life-changing, but, hey, it’s something to be grateful for. And it makes it much easier to accept the not-so-great days we all go through.
Manifesting the Positive
But, when it comes to the greatest positive change in my acceptance of bad days, I have to say it’s my newfound habit of manifesting the positive.
As a concept I picked up from a Mindvalley course, positive manifestation seemed silly at first. After all, there was no way I could stop bad things from happening by only imagining my life through a rose-colored optimism filter. (And, unfortunately, I’m still a long way from accomplishing all my dreams and goals.)
Nonetheless, I can assuredly say that I’ve also gained quite a lot from my new positive manifestation meditation habit.
For one, it has brought my attention to the fact that most times, my positive thoughts aren’t focused on huge accomplishments. Instead, they tend to center around the small things, like having a productive meeting. Or getting to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. Or setting aside time in the morning for my workouts. Yes, these all seem like minute details. But in the grand scheme of things, they make even the worst days more bearable.
The second thing that manifestation has taught me is that there’s always a tomorrow to look forward to. It’s an excellent reminder of the fact that even the worst days are just days. And that means that even bad streaks end and are replaced by good ones. All we have to do is learn how to recognize the good stuff once it comes around.
Accepting All of Life’s Ups and Downs
If you’re like most people, you have your highs and lows. And, if you’re anything like me (prone to anxiety and overthinking), it can be difficult to accept that those lows aren’t something you can eradicate from your calendar.
Still, if you find that you struggle with this same issue, I strongly urge you to start working on it. It doesn’t have to involve any of the strategies that worked for me (after all, we’re all different). But, I can assure you, it will make a huge difference in your emotional health. Even if the only thing you accomplish is helping yourself understand why bad days make you feel the way you do.
Sarah Kaminski is a life enjoyer, positivity seeker, and a curiosity enthusiast. She is passionate about an eco-friendly lifestyle and adores her cats. She is an avid reader who loves to travel when time allows.
Image courtesy of Marcos Paulo Prado.