This is one of those situations where I know a lot of strategies but sometimes even my bad days don’t turn out very well, and then it’s a series of bad days. Like last week was for me. You know how it is sometimes when you think, “why did I even bother getting out of bed?” Then it just goes downhill.

Some situations can be fixed, some others don’t have an immediate solution, so we just have to accept that we don’t always have as much control as we’d like.

So what’s the secret? It’s the thing that stops us kicking the dog and lashing out at our nearest and dearest.

Awareness.

Notice firstly what’s got us on edge. It’s not usually what we think. In my case, it started with some bad news. What I know is that in any given situation people don’t all react the same way, so it’s not the situation that upsets us, it’s the way we react. We have been conditioned from when we are young to react in a predictable fashion that might have worked for us at the time but does not really serve us anymore.

Grandma’s advice to stop and count to ten before reacting emotionally still holds up.

We can’t control life events but we can control how we react to them. Some people will get under our skin more than usual, so think through some strategies to avoid conflicts.

Breathe deeply and remind yourself that you can handle this.

Plan a strategy for dealing with a difficult person that you can’t avoid. Ask if you can postpone a discussion until you have had time to prepare, or have the discussion standing up, or put a reasonable time limit on it.

We know that self-control is like a muscle, it gets stronger with practice, it runs down when we are tired, and can become depleted with use, especially when a bad day taxes our usual resources. That’s why after a big day we might lose control once we get home. Knowing that, we can make a plan to prevent damage that might be really difficult to repair later.

Have some strategies on hand for dealing with the family after a difficult day, preferably without resorting to drugs or alcohol.

Exercise is great for burning off excess adrenalin. Walking fast enough to induce heavy breathing around the block, or perhaps even further if you can,  works.

Music works wonders at changing moods too.

Digging in the garden is a favourite for me.

Spending time with friends. Sometimes they can offer a more positive perspective. Sometimes being in good company is enough

Do I always succeed? No, absolutely not. However life is a journey and I know that appreciating our strengths and striving to get better is better than beating ourselves up for not being perfect.

What is it that works for you? I’d love to hear.

 


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