I remember hearing this quote by Henri Murger “The day is not over yet. You may still meet with Providence, who never gets up before noon.” That first sentence really stuck with me. It immediately made me think about all those days that started ‘wrong’ and kind of set up a negative pace for the rest of the day. Sometimes you just get these days where things keep happening to you over and over again, as if someone up above is testing to see if you're really committed to having a good day. And just to be clear, I am not talking about days that you feel emotional or uninspired/unmotivated (that's on a different post), I am talking about days that things simply don't work out as you planned. Unfortunately, 95% of the time we give in and decide that it’s just going to be one of ‘these’ days. It’s this ‘all or nothing’ mentality that really gets us in trouble.
We think that if things don’t go exactly as we'd like them to be we might as well throw it all out of the window.
We think that distracting ourselves with alcohol, TV or food would make us feel better. We look for an instant gratification to ease our pain. We feel sorry for ourselves which makes it even harder to pull ourselves out of the unfortunate way our day unfolded. We try to num the frustration or overwhelm which usually turns out to be the opposite of what we need, and we feel even worse. We think we should just wait for the day to be over.
These days, when things go ‘wrong’, are the days we must try to find more self-compassion. That doesn’t mean we let ourselves off the hook by giving up, choosing to num the discomfort of things not working out our way or falling into destructive behaviours. It also doesn't mean we need to 'push through'. It means we tune in and ask ourselves: What do I need? It means prioritising self care. Cultivating self compassion means we forgive ourselves and let go of whatever happened in the past (whether it’s a year or a second ago) and acknowledge that NOW (the present moment) is always a fresh start, an opportunity to choose again, to choose different.
So what if one of ‘those’ days really meant the happiest day of your life, despite the fact you keep encountering unfortunate events?
A real example from my own life - one day as my alarm went off at 5:20 AM, I stepped out of bed getting ready for my yoga practice, but I was feeling really sick and nauseous. I thought this feeling would go away after I’d drink some water. Ten minutes later, still feeling bad I went back to bed. I woke up later, feeling a bit better but still nauseous. After a disturbing email, two meetings that didn’t go so well and few more things that didn’t go exactly as I was hoping for, I noticed how I was starting to feel sorry for myself. As I was just about to 'give up on this day' I took a moment. I watched my thoughts and observed my feelings and decided I’m not going to become them.
I HAVE A CHOICE! I was not going to let these events define my day. I had too much to accomplish to let that happen.
I was determined to turn the day around and as I didn’t have any nausea I decided to get on my mat at 2 PM and do my practice! First few movements all I could hear is my strong inner chatter but the more I focused on my breath the voices in my head got quitter and quitter. I finished practice, had a nice nourishing shower made myself ‘breakfast for lunch’ and started my day again more focused and energized! What a day! Not only that I really enjoyed the second half of my day, I accomplished so much more than I planned for that day. It was definitely a win!
It’s not always possible to take 90 min in the middle of your day but it’s always possible to TAKE A MOMENT to notice what’s going on and perhaps to choose differently.
My day has shifted, not because of my yoga practice but because I’ve made a decision not to waste the day on negative thoughts. I was able to understand that I’m not my stories. I have good ones, but they don’t define me. And as much as I'd like to say I'm always able to choose my 'higher self' I don't always 'win', sometimes the voices in my head are louder... and that's ok! Over the years of healing from eating disorders and disordered eating I have learned to let go of perfection... I focus on progress instead of perfection.
I celebrate my 'wins' and forgive myself when a 'fail'. I recognise that even when I 'fail' there is always a lesson to be learned.
So what can you do next time you’re having one of these days?
Take 5 deep breathes through the nose
Notice (observe your thoughts without becoming them)
Make a decision to rewrite your story, repeat: 'the day is not over yet'
At the end of the day (if earlier is not a possibility) do your best to choose self care – go to yoga class, go for a walk, prepare yourself a nourishing meal, meditate, you get the idea… Your mind will try to convince you to go for the easy option by using words as ‘you deserve it’ – you don’t have to listen.
Go to yoga, thank me later.