Waking up at 6:00 am and getting out of a warm bed only to stub your toe in the darkness of your room isn’t the best way to start the day. Thankfully, the throbbing stops, and you continue downstairs to make your morning coffee. Approaching the last few stairs, your foot slips and all of your weight falls onto your tailbone as you slide down the steps to the landing. If that isn’t enough to ruin your day, the coffee pot is apparently not working either. From this moment forward, you’re sure that today is going to be the worst.
But wait… it doesn’t have to be! Believe it or not, you’re in full control of your feelings and the trajectory of your day is up to you. It’s not too late to change the way this day plays out.
Fine the Source of Negative Feelings
Totally eliminating the frustrated feelings you’re currently experiencing isn’t going to happen. Positive affirmations will feel useless at this point because you’re already set in “a mood”. Instead, identify what events have made you feel this way. Your stubbed toe doesn’t hurt anymore, so that’s a start. Your tailbone, however, is still aching, and you’re still without coffee. These two factors can easily put a damper on your day, but they don’t have to. One of them can be fixed. Head to the nearest coffee shop and buy an espresso. Or, if that’s not within reason, an ice-cold can of XS could give you just the boost you need!
As for your tailbone … well that might be sore even tomorrow. At least it’s not broken, which is a positive twist on a painful event. But, it’s still an uncomfortable situation to deal with throughout the day, which is starting to upset you again. Instead of being reactive and letting pain control you, you can take a number of steps to control the pain.
When you experience negative emotions, remember that it’s okay to go through that experience but don’t let it dominate your day. Feel those feelings for a moment—and move on.
Create New Responses
Catch yourself feeling angry? Sad? Impatient? Try changing the way you respond to those emotions. Whatever incident is making you feel that way can be altered in your mind. One great way to change how you think about the situation is to ask yourself, “How would I help a friend work through this?” Imagine what you might say to them and what advice you’d give.
More often than not, we know how to manage our own situations, but we let those emotions cloud our judgement. Next time, remove yourself from the equation and pretend it’s someone else experiencing the negative incident. Doing this helps you to step back and analyze the different ways you can respond, and which one will be most productive.
If you can’t think of a productive response at the moment, find a response that will temporarily distract you from the situation. Distractions are not unhealthy as long as you bring yourself back to the issue. Take a walk, do some deep breathing, or go listen to your favorite song. Pull yourself away from the situation for a couple minutes, then come back to it and decide on a solution.
Create New Thoughts
Changing the way you think can also have a big impact on your mood. Reframe how you would typically let a situation make you feel. Decide what feelings are conjured up by negative instances. If you were just told by your team leader that you lacked involvement in the last meeting, don’t take it personally. Instead get excited that they want to hear more from you! Think about it as an opportunity to show them you can be more involved and display your abilities.
Whenever you receive constructive advice, be grateful, not defensive, about the feedback. Then, use it as an opportunity to grow. When you can’t find a reason to feel joy about the situation, at least feel content and accept what has happened.
Appreciate All Aspects of Life
As corny as it sounds, it’s important to refresh your perspective frequently. When bad news or unfortunate events (like a broken coffee pot) arise, remind yourself that it could always be worse. Although you didn’t get your morning coffee, you’re still able to complete the day and get work done in the process. The morning may have started out less than ideal, but it’s turning into a good day, because you were able to turn it around!
Be thankful for where you’re at and learn to love the peaks, valleys, and the journey that brings you to each. The greatest moments of life would be hard to appreciate without also having some not-so-great moments.
Your mind is a powerful tool that dictates your emotions. You can either choose to use that tool, or let your emotions run amok and take control of you.
When you’re starting to get the hang of controlling your emotions, here are three ways that you can be an “emotion coach” for your kids!