We all have those days. Maybe we just woke up in a bad mood. Maybe something has been bothering us and it escalated to a new level. Maybe something did not go as planned or we were blindsided by some unexpected trouble. Maybe someone did or said something. We are not merely just in bad mood, we are in a REALLY bad mood. The kind of mood where things that merely annoy you on most days infuriate you; the kind of mood where anyone else who is in a good mood makes you want to punch them simply for this reason – I mean this mostly figuratively ;).
I found myself in one of those moods the other day. There had been some things bothering me recently but it was just one of those things where I felt badly from the second I woke up. It was instantaneous. I could tell I was going to have trouble shaking it off and I certainly did.
I know it is all perception and I can choose to feel better at any moment. Knowing this and doing it are very different things and my intellectual understanding was just not translating to my actions this particular day. Everything and everyone was just annoying me for no particular reason. But, through all of this, I was able to exert some degree of control. I was not totally lost to the feelings and I was still able to do some reflection and observation. The following things help me deal with these sorts of days and I hope they will help you too.
Know This Too Shall Pass
Intellectually, we know that nothing is permanent and our moods, feelings and emotions shift. But, when we are in the thick of bad ones, we get consumed by them. In that moment, they saturate our reality and we give up all our power to them. We are miserable in this moment and that is all we focus on. If we can train ourselves to remember this impermanence in the moment, something amazing happens. We may still feel all the bad feelings and our mood may not budge an inch, but the intensity may lessen. We still feel sucky but we know it will pass. Maybe in the next hour, maybe in the next few hours, maybe by tomorrow. Regardless, we know this is a fleeting moment, one of many. It may be one of the more unpleasant moments, but one that will not last forever. Reminding ourselves of the impermanence of everything helps create a space between the true you, which is pure consciousness and what we think and feel, which constantly fluctuates and shifts.
As someone who places a high premium on self-improvement, I know I can be too hard on myself sometimes. I think when I first started this journey, I felt like I was going to become this perfect person with Buddha-like awareness and behavior. I would always feel good and I would be able to transcend all those yucky emotions. Yeah, not so much. If you relate to this, you have probably experienced feelings of guilt or being mad at yourself when you have days or moments like these. You think you are not advancing. You are annoyed you find yourself reacting with your old patterns and habits. All of this can make these ‘’I wanna punch someone’’ days more difficult to deal with. Not only are you feeling badly, but you have added an extra layer of negativity due to your anger and guilt for feeling badly.
Question and Observe
For most of us, we are on auto-pilot. We do not take the time to observe what we are thinking and feeling. We are just constantly reacting to everything outside of us instantaneously without a second thought. When we begin to cultivate awareness and actually pay attention, we can discover a goldmine of useful, potentially life-changing information. When we are having these bad moments, it is important to pay attention to what is happening. Just like the awareness of its impermanence, allowing yourself to really think about why you are feeling the way you feel will lighten the load a bit. Again, the mood may still persist, but armed with this information, you may find a way to get out of the funk sooner or resolve an issue contributing to it. This step may be uncomfortable because it may force us to look at things we tend to avoid paying attention to; it shines a light on things in ourselves we know are not serving us and that we probably need to work on changing. But, if you can sit with this discomfort, you will put yourself on a path to creating lasting changes in your life. Changes that will reduce days like this or help you deal more effectively with the ones that will likely happen again down the road.