What To Do With a Bad Day?

Knowing what emotion you’re in is a hallmark of self-awareness, and self-awareness is one of the cornerstones of emotional intelligence. A highly emotional intelligent leader holds the ingredients that make for transformational leadership. And that’s what we’re shooting for, right?

But, what happens when the emotion you’re in is a negative one?

I lived through this scenario just last week. On a two-hour drive home from a meeting last Thursday, I received news that was so frustrating, I spent 45 minutes of that drive crying. I was angry. I was exasperated. I felt helpless. I was not at my best. Can you identify with this?

These emotions are not my norm. In general, I tend toward optimism; toward the realm of possibilities. Even as a child, I held the ability to face a difficult situation and understand the inherent upside. Scraped knee? Cool scar. Broken bone? Signed cast. Braces? Purple rubber bands.

And yet, the occasional setback is inevitable. The question is, how do you handle it? How do you let it emerge and wash over you without leaning into it? Here’s what I was reminded of by my experience last week:

  1. Be authentic. Acknowledge how you’re really feeling, and don’t place blame on others. Name the emotion and own it. Doing this allows you to experience the emotion without becoming it. The trick to this is to not look for evidence to justify your staying in this emotion. You can pass through as a visitor without unpacking and pitching a tent there.
  2. Remove yourself from your immediate circumstances. Even if it’s just a 5 minute walk outside. Get a different view. Do a quick breathing exercise. For example: breathe in to the count of 4; hold your breath in for a count of 4; breathe out to the count of 4; hold your breath out for a count of 4. Repeat 4 times. OR, change your music. I have a playlist in my phone called “Songs for Peace” for just this purpose.
  3. Reach out for support. On my drive home, I called my dad (hands-free, of course). He’s my go-to when I need someone who will listen without trying to problem-solve. At that moment, I just needed to vent, to cry, and to have permission to feel frustrated. I wasn’t ready to move into solution-mode yet. The next day, when I felt more prepared to move forward, I reached out to a friend who is a great creative mind. She helped me see the situation from a different angle, and gave me great insights on how to move forward.
  4. Self Care. Give yourself what you know you need. This will help prepare you, physically, mentally, and emotionally to be open to new possibilities. I went to bed very early last Thursday. And felt much clearer when I woke up after 9 hours sleep on Friday.
  5. Take stock. Look back on the storm after it passes and really see yourself. What I learned from my experience last Thursday is that when I’m frustrated, my ability to see possibilities or think creatively shrinks to nothing. It’s like my life gets squeezed by a vice and I can only see the circumstances that are closing in on me. I also learned that I have an incredible and capable network of family, friends, and colleagues all around me. People who are fully willing to help me even though I’m much more comfortable living in support of them.

Remember, the storms you face do not need to turn you into someone you’re not; they actually help you take the shape of who you’re meant to be.

This was previously published at The Nebo Company as a guest post by Bethany Dufour, Next Play Co-Founder and Vice President of Education. It was originally posted on April 8, 2015. It is re-posted here with their gracious permission. To see the original post: https://nebocompany.com/blog/-305

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