Last night I was in a bad mood.
I was in a really foul mood...
As I was coming up out of the underground station at the same time everyone else was in the midst of the commuter rush at about 5:30pm I thought to myself;
'It's Friday, I bet everyone's relieved it's the weekend. They must be feeling like they can now relax for a couple of days. I can't. It doesn't feel like a Friday to me. I have so much to do and no time to do it'.
There was no good 'wooooohooooo it's Friday!' feeling in sight.
In its place was simply this heaviness of not feeling great.
I managed to get myself off to the gym for a session (the first one in a week and a half), but when I came back home my mood had gone from bad to worse.
I was now just angry and pissed off.
I was in the kitchen making some food, and it was the type of angry where you're slamming pots pots and pans around and shutting cutlery drawers with a bit more force than usual, just to try and physically get some of the negativity out of you.
Ever had a similar experience of your day turning out this way too?
If you ask my friends and family most would say that I'm a pretty upbeat and optimistic person, full of energy and always trying to look on the positive side of things. But last night I could only seem to focus on what felt like all the negative aspects of the last week:
- Other commitments and one too many social events in my week took up too much of my time. I wasn't able to focus on reading for my second module of my course which begins next week.
- Feeling like the week has run away with me and I've been annoyed that its felt like I've had no energy to do anything productive outside of my contracting work.
- Nothing seems to be going how I wanted it to this week
- I was really tired after being at an awards ceremony that finished late. Due issues with the trains I also missed the last tube of the night and ended up not getting home until 2am. I felt shattered and concerned that I won't have enough energy to study effectively over this coming weekend.
- I'm anxious about wanting to be properly prepared for my four volunteer clients next week so they get the very best from their sessions.
- I was trying to write the blog earlier in the week but it just wasn't working, the words weren't coming out as they usually do when I'm typing.
- It feels like winter has been going on forever, and I miss the sun - I want to get away and go somewhere on for a beach holiday but I can't.
Oh, and I also accidentally stepped in dog poo on my way home, you know, just to round it all off with a nice little faeces shaped cherry on top.
Why Am I Sharing This With You?
Because we are human, and like it or not our first reaction and our driver to everything is emotional and takes place in the limbic part of our brain. Depending on what else is going on in that day/week/month will have an impact on how much we let that emotion affect our actions from that point forward. If we don't recognise and harness it we can be in for a lot of bumpy rides, and not only for you, but those around you too!
To remove our emotional reaction would be to remove what makes us human, and what makes us human is our higher thinking. We have the ability to recognise our emotions and engage our prefrontal cortex in our rational thinking through being able to keep things in context, taking time to think before we react, and work on not allowing the problems to become overwhelming and all-encompassing. This is how we can encourage our emotions to move over into the passenger seat and let rational thinking get behind the wheel in order to drive in a much calmer way.
Half the battle is recognising this process,working out how we individually acknowledge the emotion we are feeling, and then how we go on to react to that.
In my case last night, I recognised this was happening and I knew a couple of things that I had to do moving forward:
- I needed to allow myself to be in a bad mood for the evening, to feel what I was feeling at the time, but know I wouldn't let that overflow into the following days.
- Knowing I was feeling this way was because of a culmination of factors that I could list (and each in isolation wouldn't have affected me the way it currently was). Although I wasn't prepared to do it there and then, I would look at all of these things properly in the morning.
- I knew a good sleep would make me feel a bit better in the morning as I would be rested and have more energy.
- Once I get a few good hours of studying under my belt I will feel like I'm back on top of that side of things.
Additionally, through writing this piece over the last couple of hours I've noticed 'catastrophising' and 'extreme phrases' that I have been saying to myself, such as;
- I wasted the entire weekend...
- Preparing for my four volunteer clients next week so they get the best from their sessions....
- The week has completely run away with me and I feel like I've had no energy to do anything productive....
- Nothing seems to be going how I wanted...
- Winter has been going on forever....
- I have so much to do and no time to do it....
By acknowledging that this is what I was doing, I can look at how I need to manage myself and my thoughts around all of these commitments moving forward and for other tough days or weeks that lie in front of me. Having slept on it and stepped back and away from the intensity of my bad mood, I can challenge those phrases and re-frame them in the bigger picture:
- The week has completely run away with me and I feel like I've had no energy to do anything productive.... = Hold on, I've been to the gym and started writing a blog piece earlier in the week. Yes its been a very busy week with other commitments but that was a one off and it's important to remember that. Now look forward to what you can achieve over the weekend for yourself and stop allowing those thoughts to eat into this time.
- Preparing for my four volunteer clients next week so they get the best from their sessions.... = I can never be prepared for everything, so my clients will have the best sessions if I accept this. I'll do what I can in my power and just relax in the knowledge that however it goes is how it goes, and the reason I'm working with volunteers is so I can learn, so cut myself some slack!
- Nothing seems to be going how I wanted... = Really? Nothing? I'm now well into my course and studying for my post graduate certificate, and last week I was buzzing off of how well my client sessions went. It's simply been a tough and busy week with my focus having to temporarily be elsewhere. Keep it in context. Next week will improve as I manage my commitments better.
- I have so much to do and no time to do it.... = There is always so much to do, but there is also time to do it. So just breathe, take your time and make sure to stick to your blocks of time you lay out for tasks and manage them properly. Perhaps stick that reminder up on the wall somewhere.
- Winter has been going on forever.... = This isn't Game Of Throne where the phrase 'Winter is coming' is applicable.
Spring and summer are on their way! The days are getting longer! Have the swimming costume on standby ready to go!
So if you're having a bad day, then have a bad day.
But also remember that being human means you also have the ability, and owe it to yourself, to think about why you're in that mood, and what you can do about it moving forward:
- What has happened?
- How has that made you feel?
- What language are you using when you talk to yourself or others about the situation?
- What could you say to yourself instead?
- How does the use of these different words in Question 4 make you feel?
- What have been the positives about your day / week / month?
- What can you do for yourself to manage yourself and help re-frame similar negative/difficult situations that will happen in the future?
One Final Thought - Taking A Positive From A Negative:
- What unexpected positive can you take from the negative? (Either the situation itself, something you have learned about yourself or something it has taught you?)
For me, sitting here reflecting on my mood and my reactions has also been the reason for completely changing my blog post for this week to what you're reading right now! It has unintentionally solved one of the problems I listed earlier about struggling to connect with the piece and having trouble with my flow of the words.
Voila - problem solved!
Here's to a happier Saturday everyone, I hope you have a good one too.
*If you would like information on the Business & Personal Coaching services that I offer and pricings, please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.