What To Do Next Time You Have a Bad Day
This morning I went to my local home improvement store very early in the morning to get some special orchid potting mix (after Googling “wilting orchid” a few days ago and getting the scoop on how to revive the beautiful plant a friend gave me last year). With only one item to pay for and not wanting to walk 5000 yards to the regular check outs, I got in line at the customer service counter. I’m the only person in line. There are two employees each at their own register, both on the phone. I wait patiently. The lady closest to me hangs up the phone, gazes somewhere past me and shouts, “Next in line!”. It’s 7am. I’m literally 10 feet from her and, again, the only one there. I approach her register and she proceeds to ring up my purchase. Then… while looking the OTHER way, she rips off the receipt, holds it out for me to take and says, in a voice that’s a cross between a computer and Eeyore, “Have a nice day”.
I kinda felt sorry for the lady and wondered what her dream job might be. And then quickly dismissed it and went about my day. It’s not the individual annoyances that really bother me, it’s when they pile up and come at me one after another that I start to get irritated. Take yesterday for example.
I was going to start out by asking if you’ve ever had a bad day. But of course you have — who hasn’t? I don’t think any of us are immune to having a bad day once in a while. We all have them and we all get through them, eventually. Sometimes having a bad day can ruin our evening, the next day or even the week, not to mention how it spills over into our relationships, jobs and responsibilities! Of course that depends on how bad it is and how much you let it bother you.
Yesterday I had one of those days. Things didn’t go as planned. Everything took longer than I thought it should. Things I thought I had taken care of re-surfaced again begging precious time and attention. I made phone calls where it took four attempts to be connected to the right person. And everywhere I went I encountered people who either didn’t seem to know what they were doing, didn’t want to be where they were or didn’t know how to be helpful. Which in itself isn’t a horrible thing, we all have our issues. But these were all people in customer service roles. Clearly they were not actually “serving customers”
I needed to take my mother appliance shopping to replace her stove and microwave that were bagged and removed along with the majority of her belongings during the asbestos abatement process in her condo (No, I didn’t make that up — probably a topic for another blog!) Sounds easy enough, right? The first store we went to we were pounced on by a sales person before both of my feet were fully in the store. He proceeded to tell us all sorts of useless facts about things we weren’t interested in (we were looking for a stove and a microwave yet he was spewing facts about their washers and dryers and package discounts). Like seriously, old school sales techniques dude. He was so obnoxiously annoying I couldn’t wait to get out of the store.
Then in the next store as the sales person was ringing up the purchase of a stove and microwave, he attempted to sell my mother an extended warranty by telling her, “you’re going to want this extended warranty, you know, these things are all made in China now”. And he sort of half whispered the word “China” it as if it were a dirty word or something. Even though I am clearly not Chinese, I was mortally offended. Every bone in my body wanted to call him out for his remark and his sales tactics too. But I didn’t, I raised an eyebrow at him, shook my head and walked away.
Then there were a bunch more work related stuff, phone calls where I got put on hold and then disconnected…twice in a row, I could go on, but you get the idea. I know better, but somehow I let things irritate me so that by the time I dropped off my mother and got home I was grumpy and behind on my work. I got a few things done by my 5pm deadline then called a friend. As it turns out, she had a rough day too and together we were seriously compounding our grumpy feelings! After a little venting we agreed we should reconnect the next day when we were both feeling better.
The rest of the evening I kinda didn’t know what to do with myself. Have you ever been in a bad mood and just didn’t know how to get out of it?I looked around my house and could see that there were things I needed to do. There was also work I could have done, but my brain was stuck in grumpy mode. So I ate some food and sat on the couch watching videos on YouTube. Mostly TedTalks which isn’t horrible, but I stayed up way too late watching them. I totally zoned out and stayed up two hours later than I should have for a week night! And to put this in perspective, yes, I’ve definitely had worse days. And it was by no means tragic, but it really threw me off schedule.
While I realize it’s not realistic to think I’m never going to have a bad day, I also need to give myself room to not always handle it perfectly when I do. Which brings me to my disclaimer. Yes, I’m a Life Coach, and yes I know I’m in control of my thoughts. Yes I know how NOT to let people get to me and yes I know that grumpy people are doing the best they can and they’re dealing with their own issues and it ain’t all about me. I know I shouldn’t take things personally and I can DECIDE to be happy.
So… the next morning, I did what every not perfect, self responsible life coach would do. I coached myself! I thought hmmm, if I came to myself as a client and told this story what would I say to myself?
Coach Hope, “So tell me a little more about this bad day and how you felt that evening.”
Client Hope, “Well, it just seemed like everything went wrong and there were rude and stupid people everywhere I went. It’s like no one was helpful at all. I felt really frustrated at the end of the day and stressed out because I was behind on my work.”
Coach Hope, “Now that you’ve had some time to reflect on the day, do you still see it the same way? Does it still cause the same emotion it did then?”
Client Hope, <pauses to think> “No, it doesn’t seem so bad now. It seems like trivial stuff. But at the time it seemed like a big deal. I remember it but I don’t feel the emotion the same way any more.”
Coach Hope: “Why do you suppose that is?”
Client Hope: “Maybe because I’ve had time to think about it?”
Coach Hope: “Do you think it was the time or the thinking that makes it feel different now?”
Client Hope: “Wow that’s an interesting question.” (Yes I just surprised myself with the question then felt stumped by not knowing the answer!) “Let’s see — well the facts are still the same so thinking about it hasn’t really changed anything so I’m guessing it must be the time. “
Coach Hope: “Interesting.” (The challenging part of coaching — commenting so the client knows I’m listening without guiding her line of thought. ie – keeping my mouth shut!)
Client Hope: “Come to think of it, just sleeping on it helped. Like I didn’t really have to do anything at all, just the passing of time helped me feel better about it. When I got up in the morning it was like I was just focused on other stuff and what happened the day before didn’t matter as much any more.”
Coach Hope: “If you would have been able to refocus that evening when you got home, do you think that would have helped?”
Client Hope: “Yeah…I think it might have. Yeah… <nods> I bet it would have.
Coach Hope: “What are some things you could have done to refocus?”
Client Hope: “Hmmm, I could have like gone to a Zumba class, that always refocuses me. I could have taken a Yoga class, that would probably work too. Maybe a bath. Pretty much anything that requires something physical because I was really too stressed to be productive or mentally focused. Working on choreography might have been good too.”
Coach Hope: “Wow, those are some really good ideas. So which one will you do if this happens again?”
Client Hope: “You mean like a plan in case I have another bad day? <stops a moment to think about it> That’s actually not a bad idea.”
So after having that conversation with myself I decided right then and there that I needed a plan! You know, just in case I have another bad day in the future. Instead of mindlessly eating then mindlessly watching something, I’ll have a plan! If it’s early enough (and not a weekend) I’ll get my butt to the nearest Zumba class. Warning to other nearby instructors — if you see me strolling into an evening class that I’m NOT teaching, chances are good I’m in a poopy mood — do not attempt conversation until after the class!
If Zumba isn’t an option then maybe Yoga or a hot bath, or a walk outside, time in my garden (during spring and summer months) or as a last result, I always have the option of going straight to bed. Anything I can do to shift my mood will be better than stewing, or worse yet, taking it out on those around me.
You would think as a life coach I would just know this stuff. BUT I’m human too and every now and then I forget and I let things frustrate me and then I have to get back on track. Hell ya’ll — just because I have the tools doesn’t mean I always remember to use them! But it DOES mean that I’m going to keep reminding myself that I have a choice in how I feel. And I’ll keep doing my best to rise above little irritations.
So… lesson learned! Not that I ever want to have a bad day, but when I do…I’ll be ready with my new Bad Day Plan! What does your bad day plan look like? What helps you to refocus? What are things you can do to get out of a bad mood? I would love your feedback — please comment below with your ideas so we can learn from each other!