Sometimes I feel like a downright hypocrite (which we all are at some point, I just hate having it so in-my-face). As a positive psychology practitioner and coach, I feel like I should have my act together and some days or months, I just don’t.
There are days that I love my life. Days that I hate my life. It’s easy if the hating part comes just for a day or two but it can be weeks or months where I feel profoundly dissatisfied with major parts of my life.
There. I feel better already.
Positive psychology says that negative emotion is adaptive and useful too. We can use our dissatisfaction, frustration, anger or disappointment to know when something is wrong or to create change. Short-term negative emotion may not elicit change as effectively as sustained negative feelings, so really, the opportunity is so much greater for those long term funks. Also, our positive emotion would not be as satisfying or meaningful without the yin to that yang.
Though useful, dealing with negative emotion day-in-and-day-out can quickly becomes counter productive and lead to real mental health and relationship risks. Here’s Six Things To Do for when life seems to just keep on stinking:
- Self care – Exercise, play, rest, sufficient sleep, good nutrition, and especially meditation/being present are more important than ever. Without it, your capacity to really deal with issues goes even lower.
- Be aware of impact on others – Sometimes we don’t realize how our mood or energy impacts others. Know that your sustained negative feelings or short fuse can wear thin on others. Make sure you give them plenty of affirmation and support as you go through a prolonged grumpy phase. Also make sure they know that it’s not about them.
- Feel, but don’t ruminate – Make time to actively acknowledge your feelings. Name them. Vent in your journal or to a trusted friend (though keep it limited) or rant out loud when you’re alone. Then stop.
- Reframe – After feeling your feelings, it’s time to find the silver lining else risk just going into a downward spiral. Ask: What is the best possible outcome? What lesson do I need to learn? What is their perspective? How might my behavior or attitude appear to them? Take ownership of your part and create the world’s best outcome to this situation! Importantly: don’t judge the situation, yourself or others. Remember, all data is neutral. We assign meaning to it. Something you thought was disastrous may turn out to be a blessing. You can turn it into one.
- Forgive – No one is perfect, nor should we be. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Reflect how everyone struggles, makes mistakes, has blind spots, are hypocrites, and are simply just doing their best. Because these things are true for ALL of us, even if it doesn’t appear that way.
- Ask for Help – You know what? You’re not alone in this. I guarantee a book or even dozens of books have been written about something just like this. There are friends, family and trained professionals that care about this. Don’t feel like you’re alone and don’t reinvent the wheel. There are people who want to help and you’re worth the investment.
I always learn valuable life lessons from adversity. This blog is largely about what I’ve learned during the course of my life struggles. If nothing else, creativity and inspiration often come from struggle, which is ultimately a place where we must grow and learn, or become stuck. When we come out the other side, the joy and laughter is all the more sweet.