(This post deals with lighter and temporary issues. But there are genuinely difficult things –such as a loss, a diagnosis, a death, abuse, ongoing depression, or issues from the past– that may not be quickly “fixed” by a good attitude. It’s okay and good to feel sad or angry, and I don’t want to make it seem like you “shouldn’t” feel that way. A wise counselor can be a good person to help with this–especially if your days seem to be one bad day after another.)
You know those days when you feel like you’ve really bombed it and you start to feel down on yourself and wonder if things will get any better?
I had a bit of that kind of day last Monday.
I had some plans to go out for Clayton and I that morning, but they fell through, and the truth is that was probably good, because both of us had colds and I didn’t want us to pass them on.
So we were home. All day.
And you see, my 2 1/2 year old is quite an extrovert. He’s also quite strong-willed.
And though he likes to be home a lot, he craves human contact and since I was the only human around… he was my human suction cup a lot of the day.
I tried to keep him entertained.
But my many planned activities kept him entertained not nearly long enough (in my mind at the time, though now I see he actually did pretty good).
I wanted to “get stuff done” like computer stuff and organizing, but the little guy had a tendency not to like that and to ask for my attention, a book to be read, etc. when I tried to do anything for long.
Actually, I didn’t have to be home all day.
I had some planned errands to run, as well, which would have done us both good.
… But then I couldn’t find my keys…
And since I was already feeling frustrated, I didn’t go to too much trouble to look for them and just hoped upon hope for a nap for the little guy… which didn’t happen since he seems to be at the age of frequently skipping naps…
Anyways, at the end of the day I was not happy with my behaviour.
A few times I had gotten angry at him, and it wasn’t “righteous anger” or at least anger rightly expressed. And I knew this was NOT the way I want to be.
My little guy is too precious to unleash my bad moods on him, so something needed to be done.
Praise God, though the rest of the week wasn’t perfect (and we still had colds and couldn’t go out as much as usual), I felt much happier because MY behaviour was a lot better (for the most part) and I want to share with you what I did that might help you when you have a “failure” of a day.
Some Things to Help You When You Have a Failure of a Day
1. Reflect (But be Gracious to Yourself)
Take some quiet time at the end of the day (or the next morning, if you are too tired) to really think about the previous 24 hours and what happened.
This is not a time to beat yourself up.
Sometimes we think we can whip ourselves into better behaviour by telling ourselves what failures we are, but this actually backfires and makes it MORE likely we’ll act unbecomingly next time we are tested.
Remember that the way you talk to yourself in your head is often the way you will end up talking to others later. So if you wouldn’t want to say that to your loved ones, ask for God’s help to not say it to yourself, either.
If part of the reason for your bad day was your own behaviour (and reactions to what happened), remember that what you DO is not WHO you are.
If you are a child of God, You are a dearly loved daughter of the King–pure in His eyes because of what Jesus did for you. It’s good to think a lot about that–because again, the way we talk to ourselves is the way we are most likely going to act and speak. So let’s meditate on who and whose we are.
But we do need to admit when our behaviour doesn’t line up with who we are and find out why.
2. Ask Yourself What Went Wrong (And what Went Right)
I. When you reflect, encourage yourself, but at the same time, take a hard look at why your day didn’t go like you thought it would.
a. Maybe your expectations were not realistic–this was a biggie for me.
Clayton overall, for being sick, was quite well-behaved. And even if he hadn’t been, a sick 2 year old that is trapped at home all day with mom can’t be expected to happily play by himself all day.
b. Maybe your self-talk was not productive.
I was being negative about a situation that couldn’t be changed that much–at the same time, if I had been more positive, I probably would have seen the options that were in front of me, instead of settling for so-so.
c. Maybe you had to much on your plate and you weren’t taking the time to take care of yourself.
Even though it was “just a cold”, with both of us sick, instead of focusing on “getting stuff done”, I maybe should have taken it easy and “spoiled” us a bit with relaxing and playing and eating yummy food. And if I’d poured into Clayton’ love tank in that way, perhaps he would have let me get more done later (perhaps).
d. Maybe there are other reasons your day wasn’t as good as it could be.
Write down your own ideas.
Outside circumstances (like a cold, a whiny child, or losing your keys) can make your day seem like it’s taken a turn for the worst. But remember that no matter what happens, it’s your REACTION to what happens which usually makes or breaks your day.
Even when hard things happen, if you feel happy with how you reacted, more than likely your day won’t feel like it was so bad afterall.
II. At the same time, encourage yourself with what DID go right. Maybe you were very patient at one point in the day, maybe someone in your life encouraged you or did something nice for you, or maybe a lot of good things did happen.
Write these down, too. It’s easy to get down on ourselves and feel like our whole day was a wash. But often there was plenty good, as well. Encourage yourself with these things.
3. Prayerfully Think about What you Can do Differently
This is a biggie, because often we let yesterday go–which is GOOD– but then don’t LEARN from our mistakes and instead repeat them over and over, feeling trapped.
I know because I’m often there.
But if we prayerfully ask God what we can do differently in a similar situation next time and brainstorm and plan for some other ideas, we can make a difference in our behaviour and day the next time around.
Here are a few things, for example, I learned that I can perhaps do differently next time.
–If I’m feeling my frustration level go up, take a break, relax, and pray–ask God to help me see my options and to let go of the anger and have realistic expectations
–I can then grab a piece of paper and begin brainstorming solutions. There really were some things we could have done–even if I didn’t have keys and we both had colds, such as walk downtown all bundled up, play a game together, make a craft for daddy (or someone else), call somebody for a bit, etc.
–Be positive and truthful. I could have found some Bible verses with truths to help. There is nothing like the truth of scripture to help us change perspective and help us fight negativity. Also, if I had just been a little more positive, maybe I would have continued to look for my keys and found them in the obvious place they ended up being
–Try to be prepared. Days at home are going to happen. If I plan ahead for some different activities the little guy will like to do with me or when I need to do something else, I may be able to fill more of that bored time for us both. I did have some things planned, but a few more might be good…
Anyways, I know that my day probably doesn’t sound like it was so bad at all (maybe many of you would love to be “trapped at home” all day), but I hope my experience and tips can help you when you feel you’ve had a failure of a day, whatever that is for you.
Let me know your thoughts!
What do you do after a bad day to help yourself? Reply in the comments 🙂