Excuse the colorful language used in the title of this piece, but I mean what I say. I don’t know about anyone else, but I have had a hard time owning my shitty moments. I have often thought that feeling badly about one thing or another, diminishes all the blessings in my life and makes it seem as though I am not grateful. I am quick to tell myself that there are plenty of people in the world much worse off than me, and so I should “suck it up” or “toughen up.” But here’s the thing, sucking it up and toughening up doesn’t make those feelings go away. They’re still there, shoved down in a box somewhere inside yourself, and eventually that box will get full, and those emotions will bubble over and present themselves in the most unlikely places at the most inconvenient times.
So when you’re feeling sad, or angry, or frustrated, own those emotions. Allow yourself to feel what you feel. Give yourself time to grieve, or vent, or cry (or all of the above). We are emotional beings, and it is a part of the human experience to go through the spectrum of emotion.
These feelings in and of themselves are not the problem, and feeling what you feel doesn’t make you a bad person. What you do with those emotions is what’s important. It’s OK to feel shitty. It’s not OK to wallow in the shit. Now, this is easier said than done. Misery loves company and when you’re feeling out of sorts, it is easy to compound your problems and build mountains out of molehills. You must resist the inclination to do that. You have to look the shitty feelings square in the eye and say, “Now what?” “Where do I go from here?” “How do I climb out of the shit?”
Here are some strategies I use to reset my mood:
1. Write it out or Talk it out Sometimes you just need to vent. If there’s no one in particular you want to vent to, vent to yourself. Write down your feelings, and if it helps read them back to yourself out loud. I’ve found a good venting session to be like an emotional cleanse. Once I’ve released my frustration out into the world it’s much easier to move on.
2. Get Moving Go for a walk, or a run. Do some sit ups on your living room floor. Take a yoga class. Any of these options (and many more) can help you to physically purge some of your negative emotions. And the rush you get after your physical exertion of choice goes a long way to lifting your spirits as well.
3. Put on Some Music Music is powerful. On the worst days I can put on some India Arie and bounce around the house without a care in the world. Similarly if I’m in the mood to wallow, I can play some Adele and belt out soul wrenching ballads at the top of my lungs. Allow music to uplift you in moments like these. Keep a special playlist handy for when you’re down in the dumps, and allow the music to transform your mood.
and last but not least…
4. Make a Plan Once you’ve done one (or all) of the above, you are ready to tackle your issue(s) (whatever that may be). Sit down and give some thought to the heart of what’s bothering you. Make a list of what you can do to change your situation, and also a list of what you can’t change. Go through the steps involved in taking on the former list, and make your peace with the items on the latter.