How To Make Bad Times Better

Do you find yourself waking up, listening to the news and beginning to feel gloomy about everything? The state of the world, economic misery, people losing their jobs, sexism from sport presenters…

Unfortunately it’s really easy to make yourself fed up; it’ll creep up on you unawares and before you know it you’re succumbing to the grumpy stereotype and tutting indiscriminately. It requires a bit more effort to do the opposite. I am not about to advocate that you turn off the radio, TV, stop reading papers etc (although as a change that is temporarily refreshing) because I believe we should engage with the world and try to change things for the good, as much as we are able.

However, I do think we are in the midst of great change, change over which we have little control and which can cause us to feel the classic symptoms of anger, distress, helplessness, and melancholy. I am as susceptible to this as anyone, despite what I do for a living!  I frequently work with people in huge distress about what is happening to their jobs, to the services they provide, prospects for their children, etc. Their despair is genuine and valid, and I often share it.

But I manage the effect it has on me and you can too!

Manage the Effects of Change

One of the keys to dealing with change is to find an area where you can exert some control. Depending on your circumstances and outside events that will vary wildly from individual to individual. One thing you always have some control over is how you feel and respond to the negative stuff that comes your way. No one has yet cut that! 

I am not suggesting that you get all happy clappy and Pollyanna like and come across like someone who hasn’t a clue what is happening! I don’t want you to stop caring about what is happening to others, or to yourself. Keep taking action on what you believe in, direct the anger to an appropriate cause, try and make a positive difference in the world.

A ‘Control Your Feelings’ Exercise

What am I am suggesting is you try this simple exercise each morning and consciously manage your feelings, don’t let them be managed for you!

  • As you start your day, pause and think to yourself  “How am I feeling? How am I feeling emotionally? Happy? Sad? Angry? Guilty? Nostalgic? Vulnerable?
  • What has provoked that feeling this morning? Is it an air of general malaise? Is it something happening in my life? Is it something I think might happen? Was it a chance remark? Did my bum look big this morning? (Honestly, when you stop to analyse it sometimes the most insignificant of things can set you off on a grumpy path!)
  • Can you do anything about what ails you at this particular moment?
  • Can you do something about it later? If so, make a mental note to do it.
  • Do you want to feel like this all day? Is holding onto this feeling going to help or hinder you?
  • Decide to take control. Consciously decide how you want to feel, don’t let others control that.
  • Smile. Research has shown even a pretend smile can make us feel better about ourselves.

I try to do this most mornings; I like to see it as my own personal act of rebellion!

How do you cope with the current uncertainties of life?

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Posted on January 26th, 2011 by

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