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.
WHAT TO REMEMBER:
1 – The voices do not tell you the truth.
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.)
WHAT TO DO:
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.)
WHAT TO BE:
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.)
WHAT TO KNOW:
That the victory is not about not having bad days anymore. The victory is that you can get back up after having one.