“Man is capable of changing the world for the better if possible, and of changing himself for the better if necessary.” – Victor E. Frankl
Some days just seem to have that everything-that-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong feeling about them. I can recall so many days, when I wake up with the best intentions, to help someone, be kind, ready to make a difference in the world and have the best attitude, but end up being annoyed, irritated, disappointed and frustrated.
I always wonder what goes wrong on those days.
It’s as if, the very best intentions get knocked down by series of things that go wrong, and long before lunch time, our good intentions are replaced with all the negative feelings, that then influence the rest of the day and other people around us.
Who hasn’t stood in a long queue impatiently waiting for their turn or give the irritated look or a comment, or driven behind a slow driver feeling the blood pressure rising because we’re already late, or answered a phone during dinner time to find out it’s salesperson trying to sell us something?
Those situations are not what we expect or want, so we react accordingly. We forget our good intentions, because after fifth negative reaction from someone, we’re also in the circle of passing on the negativity.
Instead of responding with wisdom, we now react to the world.
I’ve experienced these days countless times, as I’m sure, you have too. When I’ve had a rough week with sick kids at home, been overworked, over booked with appointments, tired, sleep deprived, not had time to meditate, exercise or do some of the things I love. Those days, I’m as anyone of us would, likely to react strongly, impatiently to any person or situation from that reactive state of mind.
So some time ago, I decided to observe my behavior and attitude to learn how I can turn this pattern around. I must admit, it’s difficult to step out of that state of mind, because the feelings are so strong, it almost feels like, we don’t even have a choice.
The thing is, when our energy is low, our attitude gets low too.
And so we enter into world bringing this energy with us, reacting and creating chains of other reactions, that our attitude and choices create.
It’s not the most productive circle. But it’s possible, to step out of it in a second and be more positive.
Here are some of my observations. I relapse all the time, and I think we can’t never get rid of the negative thoughts and emotions, but we can be aware of them, so we can choose better.
1. Pay attention. When in a bad mood, negative situation, or around an impossible person, notice your own behavior and reaction. Look at it honestly, even with all the feelings you’re currently going through. Just notice everything, don’t do anything but paying attention. Be with all the emotions, the situation and the outcome. Seek for patterns in your thoughts, that have resulted you feeling like that.
2. Feed your soul. Do you know what lowers your tolerance and your energy? I noticed, lack of self-care, to be my pattern. When I don’t take time to recharge my batteries, be alone, exercise, read, write, meditate, I begin to react, instead of responding. Maybe, in your case, it’s people around you or work. Look what drains you of energy, and find ways to change those patterns to replace them with somethings that actually give you energy.
3. Gratitude. Whenever I find myself, in the pattern of reacting to the world around me, I try to think of one person/thing in my life that I’m grateful for. Just one though of gratitude, can change our feelings around. I know sounds so cliché, but it does work. There is something to it about gratitude. Simple “thank you” either silently or spoken can change our own or someones’ day. Things, don’t need to be that complicated to work.
4. Meditation. Just 5 min. whenever that fits in your day, close your eyes and just notice your breathing, then notice your emotions for that. What do you feel? Don’t try to change the feelings, but rather try to accept them. I’ve found myself many times feeling angry, impatient or just frustrated about something. Those are just feelings, they don’t need to control our whole day. Something happens to feelings, when noticed and accepted, they tend to disappear.
5. Step out of it. Sometimes it helps to simply step out of the negative situation. Not to run from it, but step out of it for some minutes, find our balance, connect to our good intentions, and then get back in to respond to the situation feeling more powerful and positive.
As something new, I’ll be writing series about mindfulness once a week.
Tell me in comments, how do you use mindfulness in your daily life? What are your challenges?
True Positive Thinking is Not the Absence of Negative Thoughts
How to Deal with Uncomfortable Feelings & Create Positive Ones
How to Understand and Transform Negative Emotions