How to Survive a Bad Day - Christine Kane

Let’s say you made the decision a while ago to live more consciously, monitor your thoughts, quit the anti-depressants, take more risks, be more deliberate, or do yoga or be more aware.Let’s say you’re doing well, and you’re proud of yourself, and you’re even noticing some great serendipitous events occurring.

So, then, what do you do when you have a day when your old crappy stuff comes up, and the old voices that say “can’t” and “huh-uh” and “I’m worthless” are milling about drinking martinis and eating crab puffs in your head? What do you do when you try to send them all away with your newly crafted powerful intent or affirmation, and only a few of them even look up, and one of them turns away and lights a cigarette?

What do you do when no matter what you do, you just feel awful?

A yoga teacher of mine once said, “Love brings up anything unlike itself.” A mentor of mine said, “When you plant a new seed in the soil, the first thing that comes up is not the new shoot. The first thing that comes up is a little dirt.”

Now, in those conversations “anything unlike itself” and “a little dirt” sound kind of sweet. Maybe you think, “Oh. Wow. Okay, I get that.” But then, you’re all alone in your home office, and you’re tired and nothing seems to be going right, and a little dirt pulls up in a dump truck driven by a guy on parole named Travis, and anything unlike love just happens to be the Nazgul on their black horses advancing through the thick fog that surrounds your desk.

Add to that your new awareness that your thoughts create your reality and that you had a list of intents and to-dos for today — and now you really know how very bad this bad day is.

In my own experience, my bad days got even worse once I learned about all of this awareness stuff because then a new voice started showing up at the martini parties in my head in the form of a very flamboyant, very gay stage manager. Think Richard Simmons with a cape and a clipboard. He would rush frantically among all of the other voices, swatting at each of them, shrieking, “Oh! This is just AWFUL! You’re ruining EVERYTHING! Don’t you know we’re all supposed to be POSITIVE now?!”

In all of the books on success or positive thinking or the power of thoughts, very few people talk about the Bad Day, or the process of following your dreams, or how much persistence it takes to shift your old patterns. So many of these authors and speakers will tell you about A] the way they were, (Broke and negative), B] the affirmations and visualizations they used, (Lots of money and peace) and C] the end result (A million dollars and a hot wife! Just like that!) They don’t tell you about the crappy day here, or the day they were about to give up on themselves there.

Not that I can actually picture Jack Canfield curled up in fetal position among his flannel sheets having a panic attack (Chicken Soup for the Volatile Entrepreneur’s Soul), but it helps to hear someone be honest about falling off the positive thinking wagon. Not so that you can indulge in self-pity about how hard it all is. But so that when the old stuff, the old thoughts, the old pains come out for their cocktail parties, you know you’re not a freak.

When I first started all of this work, I had many days like this. (That’s when I wrote the song Breeze.) After a time, it happened less often and didn’t last as long. (And I wrote the song Times Three), Then it only happened one day here and there. (This is what inspired Overjoyed.) Now, it’s a few hours here and there. And sometimes, it’s minutes. (I’m writing for my next CD now!) It’s not even that the dark voices have all gone away. It’s just that I spend less time believing that they’re true. But when I am believing that they’re true, I get really clear that I need to do some very serious damage control.

How do you do this? How do you get through what I now call an OLD PATTERNS DAY without telling yourself that you must not be meant to be happy and that you should just give up completely? Here’s a few things that might help.


1 – The voices do not tell you the truth.

(They’re just your old voices coming up to feed. Do not feed them. This is what makes them stay. Even if it’s too late and you are hooked in, then the best way to begin the unhooking is to rest, or to sit still, or to be very kind to you.)

2 – This is not who you are.

(The voices like to tell you that this depressive hysterical person is who you really are and that the rest of the world doesn’t have these same flaws. Do not believe the voices. This is just a temporary set back. That’s all.)

3 – Venti Mochaccinos don’t take the voices away. It just makes them go faster.

(When the crap comes flying in when you weren’t even expecting it, it’s not a call to rush out and submerge yourself in Starbucks and hope if you move faster, it will all go away. If there’s any action that needs to be taken now, it’s probably a nap.)

4 – You don’t have to be productive today.

(It’s okay to put down your goals and to-dos for one day. You can return to them tomorrow. Today, make it your goal to just get through the day being kind to yourself. Think of it as a sick day. Maybe there’s no PROOF – like a fever. But your insides are sick. Let them heal.)

5 – Everything seems worse when you’re tired or hungry.

(Eat something good for you. Drink some hot tea. Take a nap. Or go somewhere and sit quietly.)

6 – What other people think of you is none of your business.

(Don’t do things just because people expect that you will or should.)


1 – Stop feeling bad about feeling bad.

(If it helps, make today a container. Just know that you’re allowed to have this stuff today. And let yourself feel bad and know that nothing horrid is going to happen with this one day of getting thrown off.)

2 – Cancel everything. Evening stuff, too.

(If you have the luxury, stay home unless you feel like going out. If you go out, do things you’ll enjoy, not just things that are good for you. It’s okay to just distract yourself today. You’re not in any danger of becoming an unconscious being.)

3 – Don’t read fashion magazines. Or the news.

4 – Try a 20 minute walk.

(Bring a very very gentle affirmation along with you. On days like this you don’t want to be saying, “I am master of the universe!!!” On days like this you want to be saying, “I am loved. I am safe.”)

5 – Don’t try to fix yourself today.

(Maybe there are lessons in this, and maybe there are steps you can take toward being healthier in the big picture, but not today. Today, stopping is the medicine.)

6 – If you accomplish anything pat yourself on the back.

(If you get out of bed, or eat a good healthy meal, be proud. Tomorrow you can have your old high standards back, and be productive and evolved and all that. Not today.)

7 – Say no to anything if it’s motivated by the word “should.”

8 – Stop telling yourself you don’t deserve kindness.

(It’s not about deserving, or whether you’ve earned it. It’s about needing.)

9 – Don’t do anything destructive.

(Don’t overdose on sugar, don’t drink caffeine, or alcohol, don’t call anyone who drains you. I promise, it will not make this better.)


1 – Be very, very kind to yourself.

(Be the way you would be with someone who is sad or hurting or scared. Because today, you are.)


That the victory is not about not having bad days anymore. The victory is that you can get back up after having one.

  • Sunita

    I was going through a real bad day and wanted out of the emotional pain. so I googled and stumbled upon your article. It really really helped. Thanks so much!

  • Michael

    I actually had a roommate who was bipolar – so he would go from having great days to having horrible days. I understand very well what a bad day can do to someone, and it’s good that you’re telling your stories and giving out these resources. I’m definitely going to forward this to him.

    On a side note, he also figured this would be a good way to let off some steam: Ruined My Day

  • Kelly Ann

    Fantastic article and suggestions… it really does matter – to have lived through something makes one a great example with many ideas to help others find healing

  • Jenny

    I love your blog Christine! You totally lift me up and this is no exception. I have bad days. In fact, I often have bad WEEKS. And the difference for Me is that I am really dramatic and when I have a bad day I Lol

    so I’d love to drink tea and nap and be still but as a stay at home mother of a 6,4, and 2 year old.. . Well yeah right.

    We are blessed to live on the coast so the last time we had a REALLY horrendus day I said “screw it, we’re going to the beach.”. We were at the beach 15 min and my 2 yr old ran into the street 15x and my 6 yr old kicked sand in my brand new dslr camera. Then I really said “fuck it.” I quit! Omg! I yelled and we all went home.

    I wonder what to do on THOSE days. When I can’t seperate from my children for a cup of tea and yoga, and it’s just all hell breaking loose.

    Those are the days for lots of forgivness and self love. Which is hard when you want to scream like the wicked witch and chase your children around with a Billy club. 😉

    namaste Christine! <3

  • Peggy

    I needed to find this post today. I really needed to find it yesterday but I was too busy with my pity party to go look for it. You inspire and invoke thinking on a level that is even with my soul. Thank you for the reminders to be kind to myself. I have to go through the crap… can’t go over, lost my cape, can’t go under, no shovel. Must go through.

  • Morganne Price

    Thank you Christine sooo much for this article, this past couple of months have been horrendous!!! been evicted twice, constantly shunned by my father who is dying of ms and my boyfriend, my dad won’t stop bringing this guy around who has violently and sexually harassed me, i was threatened by and antagonized by a police officer and was removed from work just for telling the cop to wait to talk to my father cuz im a minor (17) and i know nothing i say matters and won’t even be taken into consideration at court. my mother just got married to an abusive asshole and has pretty much taken my lil sis and made a new life with out me. and its so hard since i’ve been out of lockup not to start drugs again and revert to my old self. thats not even a fraction of whats been going on, but thanks to your article i have hope now, and i know this is not all my fault. I can pull through this all. I wish I could hug you for this, thank you!!

  • sonia

    waow Christine! this feels so right and it’s oh so soothing. I’ve had a couple of bad days lately and I blamed myself for doing it all wrong and reading this is such a relief, you have no idea. thank you, thank you so much.

  • Time The Alleycat

    I Googled “I’m going to have a bad day” and came up with this page. Then I read all this stuff that kind of goes against my own sentiment I’ve set for myself. So I’m off to go fill up on caffeine because I Didn’t sleep last night and I have work in an hour.

  • AlleyCat

    Thank you so much. I just googled “How to survive a bad day” and your website came up. First bad day in 6 months today and freaked out. Thought I was gojn g back “there’. Thank you for giving me the clarity to put it away ’til tomorrow. i’m going off now to try to be very, very kind to myself.

  • Tim

    Thank you…from the bottom of my heart thank you

  • Tiko

    Oh my gosh, oh my gosh…thank you so much!! I’m having a horrible few days…I think I was making it worse cause I’m so mad at myself for having a bad day. I was just lamenting to a friend…it seems like right when I decide I’m gonna do better, and do my meditations, and my yoga, etc…something comes up!! Something throws everything off and my perfect little plan is all messed up and I just get so upset!! Sigh…okay, I will let myself have a bad day…I will deal with the things that come up and get right back on track. It’s okay. I will just focus on making it through this day being as nice to myself as possible.

    Oh, this blog made me feel so much lighter!! Thanks!! 🙂

  • Elaine Clickner

    Hello Christine,

    Just totally wowed and impressed, and lifted up and released and set free by your words.

    Thank you.



  • Diane Clancy

    Hi Christine,

    Kara Jones sent us over here .. this is yet another great post of yours. My bad days are a lot less then they were at some points in time.

    I made a commitment decades ago, to love myself, even if I wasn’t worth it (that was what I could muster up then … wasn’t going to give “them” more reason to attack me) … it didn’t matter .. because this is all I have to work with … so I better cherish it!!

    Helps me a lot. Thank you!

    Diane Clancy

  • Kara

    Thank you for this article. The one line alone: You don’t have to be productive today — well, wow! Thank you for the permission. Very much appreciate your honesty and clarity in addressing the bad day. Most helpful!

  • Christine Kane

    hi michelle – gosh, my husband and i tried to do a vacation like that – and it was really hard for me too. be nice to yourself. it’s hard to get to a deeply relaxed place with computers around and just the old vibes of your house everywhere. i love my house – but it’s hard to “vacation” here. i get stressed out! and thanks for your kind words. I am honored to hear that this helps you…

  • Michelle

    Christine I cannot begin to tell you how you and your website and music have dropped head first into my life at a time when I need it so much. I have been in therapy dealing with depression and such on again and off again, and so many times I just simply forget the simple things – such as “How to Survive a Bad Day” and “What to do when the Dirt Comes up” Thank you for being who you are and being so inspiring. Oddly enough I am on vacation this week – my husband and I decided not to go anywhere this year but just stay at home and be with each other and decide what to do when we got up. It is somewhat unsettling. I am so used to plans and list and being on overdrive I feel a bit uneasy and edgy even being so slow. Baby steps right?

  • Christine Kane

    hi all, i’ve obviously lost track of comments here!

    anna – i had a mentor who told me that when you need to rest, you need to rest, and if you’re questioning whether or not it’s “legitimate,” then you probably need to rest. You’ll know when you’re faking it because of fear. So many people that I teach are so totally exhausted and distracted that I want to tell them to sleep for about three weeks straight before making any decisions. Give yourself some permission to crash for a while. If that feels good to hear, then follow my advice. If your “goals and to-do lists” are fulfilling and you’re happy, then you probably wouldn’t have so much fear about “letting yourself be distracted.” Does this help?

  • Anna

    I’m afraid to put down my goals and my to do lists, to cancel everything, to let myself be distracted – afraid that it will become a habit – easier and easier to give up on my dreams, give myself an excuse not to do the hard things.

    How do you distinguish between your legitimate need for rest and wallowing in it?

  • Rose

    Ahhhh! Deep sigh of relief. Thanks for this.

  • Charity

    I know it’s now months after this was first posted, but I just wanted to say thank you for this article. The bad days are fewer for me the more I work on the positives, just as you mention, but they still happen. Today’s one of them, so I came over here to read some of your articles on my lunch break. I’ve read this one before, but never *during* a bad day. Reading it now, when I was near tears with all the old stuff, just really helped clear some of my head. Helped me at least remember to breathe, to close my eyes, have something healthy that I enjoy for lunch and just let it be for today. I just wanted to extend my gratitude and say thank you.

  • mohamed

    Christine Kane,

    Thanks to talk about this state of mind powerfull.
    I readed “the power of now” great book that changed my life.
    I’ve ever believed that could change my mind like this.
    I’m french with algerian origine and muslim and this can be prescribe to anyone.
    sorry for mistakes;)


  • christine

    Hi Kim, Thanks for writing. There are lots of resources out there. First off, I do recommend the DVD “The Secret” for you first. It’s only available on DVD. And you can get it at I also hightly recommend the movie What the Bleep Do We Know…which is probably available at Blockbuster right now!

    If you click on my “Archives” link, you’ll see a post called “Christine’s Post Retreat Reading List.” (In June.) All of my Recommended Books are in there. Positive thinking is a tricky territory for someone who’s just not that into it yet. If he’s the one WILLING to begin down this path, then let him look at some of those books, or some of my posts, and feel out what works for him. Audiobooks have helped me the most probably.

    I have lots of compassion for you in the situation with your husband. AND I believe that it’s pretty tough to make someone else change. He has to really want to shift. In the meantime, you, too, can continue in your own work. Hopefully, you’ll find that some of those books in that list help you as well. The best book I’ve read all year is A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It really goes deep into how we have all created this negativity we carry around with us. It helped me immensely.

    Keep me posted! And thanks for having the courage to write!

  • Kim

    I was wondering if you could recommend any books on positive thinking. My husband was raised by the most negative person I have ever met, and he has become just like his mother. He has a hard time finding the good in anything I on the other hand try to find something positive in all situations. It is so hard living with a person that is so negative. He has a wonderful heart and he really does want to change this habit before it affects our children, Any suggestions?

  • christine

    Thanks Stephanie. This is very nice to hear. We all have them, and it’s good to have friends like you who care when we’re in them! (Sorry about no new blog this morning. I’m in the midst of a family emergency and had to fly up to DC on short notice!)

  • Stephanie

    Christine –

    I was bummed – I mean REALLY bummed when I stopped by to visit and there was no new blog this morning. I’ve been enjoying my “mornings with Christine.” So, I thought I’d explore some of your archives.

    So, I “happened” to come here. Yesterday a dear friend of mine had a horrible day. She’s gone through some really rough times, and is on a downward spiral. I tried to be encouraging, but she is just closed off. I’ve certainly been there at points in my life, and it’s a dark place. I’m going to send this link and hope it brings some light to her darkness. Thank you, as always, for your insight into being.

  • christine

    Hi David. Thanks for writing. Wow. It sounds like you’re dealing with a lot. I don’t have a black and white, set-in-stone answer for you on the “did my boyfriend no longer matter” question. Mostly because the question is worded from one person’s perspective… the boyfriend. The guy I was with at the time (my college boyfriend) would probably say that he no longer mattered and that when I ended it, he was hurt and I was cold.

    The truth (FOR ME) at that time was I had no tools to work with. I was so upside-down with my life and my own perspectives and my own eating disorder that I don’t think I could have been with anyone. And I kind of remember that I didn’t really care. I had no energy. That’s the nature of addiction and recovery. A necessary amount of time has to pass where you get to be 100% selfish, and I just let go of anyone who couldn’t understand that. I’m not sure, but I think lots of people would agree with that perspective of going through healing work. What I would have wanted from him was if he could have left me alone. I mean…really alone. And loved me from there. That would’ve helped so much more than anything else. (Of course, he was only 23 at the time. so I don’t think he had the tools either!)

    I certainly understand that you are sad. That’s only natural and normal. The only thing that you have control over in any situation is you. (and that sucks I know) So, without knowing you at all, and at the risk of offering WAY too much information, I’d encourage you to let yourself be sad without having to fix her. Learn from this cuz that’s all we CAN do in any tough situation. (I also recommend Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth. I don’t know why. But that’s just what came to me as I was writing this.)

    Thanks for your courage in writing. And in reaching out. Your website has beautiful pieces! I love it.

  • David Rosberg

    Aloha,, my wife is being treated for bulimia of 12 years in Virginia, I live in Hawaii, and when I talk to her, I feel like I lost her totally , she seems disinterested in me. she has been treated for six weeks , she says leave me alone and watch. I know this is not about me , but am sad that I am losing her, I have read about bulimia recovery where they leave there past totally behind them. I wanted to get your feeling about when you were recovering , if your boyfriend no longer mattered . thank you. David Rosberg I enjoyd reading your blog, your a great example for a person being treated.

  • christine

    Alex, Thanks for the thoughts.. You’re so right on! It’s easy to forget all that though, huh?

    Delmar… yep. Lots of work. As we both know, friend! =]

    Kelsey, I’m glad to hear from you again. (Did you read the note that someone else wrote back to you in the Wrecking your Potential post? It’s encouraging…you might want to go there! In the meantime, it sounds like you’re going through growing pains and transition. I think you’ll really start getting into the swing of it. And if not, if you decide it’s not the right thing… well, I’ll write a blog on changing your mind!

  • Kelsey

    Thanks for this post Christine! I’ve only been back to school for two weeks and, to be honest, it’s even harder than I thought it would be. It’s wonderfully stimulating, and nice to be asked to think in a non-“what now, Mommy?” kind of way. Then I sat down to write a paper and someone may as well have asked me to make a cheesecake underwater. I used to be really good at this stuff. Now a lot of what is in my head are theme songs from PBS children’s shows.

    I love the positive energy of your blog. It’s nice to have permission to have a bad, unproductive, self-doubting day, and then let go of it.

  • Delmar

    Thank heavens you focused on the PERSISTENCE required to work through bad days. Isolating and identifying those triggers is very important. Too many people see a self-help book or program as a sort of talisman: instead, it requires so much more work than that, eh?

  • Alex Meyer

    Great article Christine! To not beat yourself up about any setbacks along the way to a better self is SOO important. A setback you can deal with, but letting the setback flourish into negative thoughts about your capabilities and your worth will just activate the warp-drive towards your old and unproductive patterns.. Breaking old patterns is HARD and you should take the challenge very seriously, so if you have a bad day/week/month it does not matter one bit, the only thing that matters is that you do not give up and loose focus on what is important.

  • christine

    Hi Lyman, Thanks. I’m glad it helped. I’m lucky I have friends who remind me of these things when I’m going through it. Congrats on your carnival doing so well! (I was actually going to send this one in for the next one…) =]

  • Lyman Reed

    Awesome article… and exactly what I’ve been going through these past few days. We would never expect a 110 pound guy who has never worked out to suddenly look like Arnold Schwarzenegger after working out for a week, so why do we expect ourselves to become perfect at managing our thoughts and emotions after reading a few books or blogs? Thanks Christine!

  • christine

    Thanks Kathy! Yes, I think what you said about depression is so right. The downward spiral often begins with that highly critical part of us that says it’s not okay to be where we are. I find that if I can take that spin off (remove the top critical layer) and just be with the “bad stuff,” then usually the bad stuff has permission to move on out. (though sometimes it takes a little longer than you want it to!)

  • Kathy

    I’ve already emailed this one to several friends. I love the way you are able to put all this down in a way that gets right to the meat of it…in a way we can all relate to somehow. I find that the books don’t mean as much until you actually put them into practice….and your list is a great way to start. Particularly the last point – we are our own worst critic always and that by itself can get you back feeding that downward spiral to depression. I’d add that it’s important at these times to also spend time with those who provide a gentle, positive energy – by their very presence you draw strength and slowly can build back your own energy. Often they don’t need to say a word – they just are.