Yesterday was a bad day for me. A very bad day. I spent most of it alone in sweatpants and a hoodie feeling sorry for myself. I did more moping than work. I will also say right away that there is no cause for alarm or real worry, nothing specifically happened to me or a loved one, I just had a very bad mood which was hard to shake. Though there are so many things I am thankful for in my life, yesterday I found it hard to spot any silver linings in the storm. Situations that normally don’t phase me felt weighty and unending.
And as you can imagine, I felt determined to crawl out of this bad mood one way or another. Which leads to the good news: by 3:45 I was able to refocus and re-frame my attitude back into it’s normal, positive, and productive state. Without going into too much detail on the “why me” whining that went on in my head, I would love to share the three things that helped me the most to shake the blah’s and get out back into a cute outfit. My hopes are that if anyone else finds themselves in a Sweatpant Day, that these three actions might be helpful to them as well.
I made a Circle of Influence and Concern Diagram
This is an activity I learned in my favorite book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The diagram above is a mock-up of the one I made yesterday (I don’t need to burden you with my personal drama), it shows the general idea of how the circles work. I took a piece of paper and wrote down everything that was flying around in my head causing me to feel overwhelmed or out of control. I then went through the list and determined whether the worry was within my Circle of Influence or my Circle of Concern. The Circle of Influence items are those that I have direct control over, they are the things that I can do something about directly. The Circle of Concern items are things that I’m worried about, feeling anxious about, but really, don’t have any direct control over. By separating out each item and putting it in one of the circles, I could identify things that I was able to change, and the things that were beyond my control.
The Influence circle is generally smaller because we can be concerned about a lot in our lives, but may only be able to control a portion of those situations. By reflecting and focusing on the things in my Influence circle, I could narrow my scope to things that I can begin improving right away. The Concern items still exist, but narrowing down my actions and thoughts to the things I can control – and what I can do about them – helped me feel more powerful to change the things that were irking me.
I listed the ways I’ve been a blessing to others
While in the very bad mood, I was hyper-critical of myself. In order to look at myself in a more positive way, I listed out the ways that I had been helpful for others in the past few days. This eased all of the fears and whispering doubts swirling in my head. I couldn’t rationally keep thinking I was a terrible person, I had to recognize and honor the fact that I had done many nice things in the past few days which improved other people’s lives.
I looked for ways to help others that day
I then continued to seek out ways to help other people yesterday afternoon. I first offered to help a friend get home safely after a surgery. I then I met with a friend who is having personal troubles by talking with her at a coffee shop. Both of these actions helped me stop staring at the black clouds looming over my head.
Had I not decided to start trying to pull myself out of the very bad mood yesterday, I think there is a good chance I might still be in it today. Perhaps it’s the difference between waiting for the storm to pass or driving to sunnier skies.