June 18, 2015

Helpful Hints for When You’re Having a Bad Day.


“Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves.”
~ James Joyce, Ulysses

I recently had a very bad day.

One of those days in which my “old” self, my know-it-all/say-everything-wrong-at-the-wrong-time-and-in-the-wrong-tone-of-voice self, came back to haunt me, and, in the process, haunted some other unfortunate people around me as well.

One of the great things about being a writer is that when I write I can write about my “new” self—the self that I like and respect and can live with and can even become sometimes.

Then there are my bad days.

On those days, the old self that I have clawed away from, the one that I have talked to in all those Gestalt chairs, the one that I have held in my arms and cried over in all those breathwork workshops, the one that I have  prayed to God, to the Holy Spirit and to the Buddha over…and the old self that begged anybody and everybody to heal and to make whole and to never show her ugly face again shows up.

When I read, “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden,” I easily identified with the main character in the story. While I don’t hear voices, per se, I certainly have had a whole bunch of “selves” that have lived inside my head carrying on a running commentary. In fact, there used to be an entire chorus of them which, for the most part, I have been able to quiet.

But that little one—that last little one—that ever-so-hungry, never to be satisfied littlest one of them, that one with the greatest power because she knows how to wait until I am most vulnerable before she takes over, that one is still around and, just like an unwanted family member who you can’t turn away when they show up at the door, the other day she came in, sat down, took off her shoes and began to run the show.

Over the years I have learned that the best thing to do when she takes over, is to own up to her. Immediately. To tell the other person that has been wounded or discounted or ignored or just plain been rudely treated by me that I am sorry, sorry, sorry, and that he/she is right I did behave badly.

Owning up to the fact that I can be a very not-nice-person is the single most effective way I have found to integrate that very-not-nice part of me so that she doesn’t feel left out and ignored. Owning up to her is the best way I know to work her into the milieu and calm her down.

I also consider it to be the best way, the adult way, the most responsible way, the most loving way, to behave.

Anyways, yes, I recently had a bad day.

But then, as they say, today?

Today is a new day.

Today is a new day in which I can remind myself that everyone has unconscious moments and that those moments are what make us human.

Today is a new day in which I can give myself a pep talk about not falling into that vortex of human negativity.

A day in which I can remember that having recognized that “old” self is progress and that there is always room for change.

A day in which I can remember that we all have “hungry ghosts.”

A day in which I can be gentle with myself.

In which I can remember that having a bad day can be an opportunity for me to mature and grow.

In which I can invite that old self of mine in, make friends with her, have virtual coffee with her and ask her to teach me something if she is going to stick around.

In which I can give that old self a job—so she doesn’t get into mischief.

In which to remember that which has a front has a back.I n which to remember that I am a multi-dimensional person and that sometimes people on the other end of my intensity might have benefited from my behavior.

And finally…

Today is a new day in which to remember the incredible words of wisdom from my friend, Cynthia Backlund, with whose kind permission I have edited here:

“If we are always all sweetness and light, what work will we have to do? In order to continue to learn, we need to be challenged. We need to remember, reconfigure, change our minds, take nothing for granted, not even what we think we know about ourselves. Not even what we think we know about our darker sides. Such is the beauty and nature of living.

That dark part of us is also a vital teacher: how would we remember to be joyful, or loving, without her? To be compassionate with ourselves, to learn about forgiveness and to listen to the many other souls who know us. Without her, how would we extend to the ones we love the blessed opportunity to forgive us, and themselves?

I say that ‘her,’ which we describe as ‘dark’ is our greatest teacher, the one who saves us from complacency and from assuming we are ‘simply loving.’

I think love encompasses all the shades and the little one who hides in the dark wants also to change, to evolve, to come out and learn to grow, as do all the other parts of us.

I say not only does she need a job, she needs to be accepted as necessary. Only then will she become fully assimilated into your wholeness.

Let her change herself, let her change you. You are still a work in progress.”



Dropping Anger: What to do When the Load Becomes too Heavy.


Author: Carmelene Siani

Editor: Travis May

Photo credits: Flickr/Matt P

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