What to do when things go wrong.

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Ever had a “bad day”?  Of course you have, we all have.

So how do you cope?  Throw a “sicky”?  Have some drinks? Dive for the duvet?  All coping mechanisms, but they don’t really help do they?

Bad days are dangerous for me as a depressive with suicidal tendencies.

Strangely, it’s not the major incidents which throw me down.  When each of my parents took their lives my reaction (rightly or wrongly) was to disassociate, my mind had a sort of reflex action to protect itself and me.

I’m talking about the relatively minor disappointments and irritations which, for me at any rate, can lead me, like a hypnotist, into a negative, depressive state.  Once I’m there I am a danger to myself.

So I began to figure out what was going on – and how to stop it.  Because it wasn’t nice to be there, and I didn’t want my family to have to go through the pain I’d suffered as a child having parents and grandparents who had taken their own lives.

I developed techniques to deal with the things which got me down.  You know: the little things. A paper cut. Trouble opening a can or a package.  Meeting work deadlines.  Drivers who seem to think you are invisible and pull straight out in front of you. A kettle that fails just as you are making a cup of tea or coffee for a friend.  That self-stick envelope that just won’t, so you have to find the roll of sellotape and even then you can’t find the bit to pull, so you get a knife to cut the damned thing – only you cut your finger.

I have found that an accumulation of these “little” things can really drag me down.  I call it the “kindle effect”.  You know, light one little bit and then add another, and before you know it you’ve got a fire that could burn down a warehouse.

If you have read this far chances are that you know what I mean.  So as a reward (!) here are my techniques for dealing with the bad days.  They work for me, I hope they work for you.

Don’t take it personally.  The kettle/toaster/car/whatever do not have minds and therefore have no capacity for malice. (Unlike humans).  If they fail, that is simply a fact.  It is no reflection on you.  Don’t fall into the trap of letting inanimate objects judge you and control you.  A car that fails to start is just that. Kicking it won’t make it start ( well, not often.)  What we tend to do in these situations is to project our frustrations onto things.  We instinctively think that doing that will make us feel better.  It never does.  Recognise the inanimate and accept that nothing lasts forever and that includes inanimate objects.

Tell your friends and family.  Sharing with other humans is a great solace.  We’ve all been there, had similar experiences and are treading the same path.  You’ll get it off your chest and might also get some good advice, e.g. have you tried  “x” or “I know a great mechanic/engineer” or whatever.  You are never alone and sharing irritations is a wonderful opportunity to discover how true that is.

It will pass.  Irritation, anger, negative and even positive moods always do.  This is a really powerful bit of awareness.  Wait, and even if the solution doesn’t come to you, the bad feelings will drop away.  Try it.

Let’s go back to the “kindle effect”.  So, shit has happened, and seems to keep on happening.  But hey!  You are in control of your own destiny so you can turn that around.  Light some positive sticks.  Ok, the car is bust and you can’t get to work, or wherever.  What  a fantastic opportunity to indulge yourself!  Try simple things to begin with.  Listen to music, read a book watch TV, do some gardening – whatever requires little effort but produces great rewards.  After even 15 minutes I guarantee that you’ll be thinking:  “How fantastic that things didn’t work today, I am really loving re-connecting with myself”

Pretty quickly your mood will shift from negative to positive and you will then see everything in perspective.  Congratulate yourself. You have just learned that nothing in life is certain or perfect but it doesn’t matter, because you can cope with it all and learn from life’s little vicissitudes  – which is part of living  a positive, full, and richly rewarding, life. 

Well done you!

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