When Nothing Seems to be Going Right
By Skye Thomas
It's more then just a bad hair day. Truth is, you don't even care how your hair looks because everything that can go wrong is going wrong. It's not like you created the problems yourself and are having to fix your own mess. That's easy enough to deal with. No, this is about those days when nobody takes you seriously, every light turns red when you're on a tight schedule as it is, and your spouse is in one of their darker moods. You drop your lunch in your lap and there's no way you can sneak back home to freshen up, the tax man just chose you for his next audit, and your sister calls to say she has a lump in her breast and is terrified to go in for a check up. Your boss tells you that you are doing an awesome job and deserve the pay raise you've asked for, but the company can't afford to give it to you.... and you love your job too much to quit. You can't seem to get through the red tape of a bureaucracy that holds some sort of power over your ability to succeed at your dreams. The computer system goes down at work and you can't finalize a very lucrative time sensitive deal that you were trying to close. No matter what you do, everything around you just seems to be going wrong and you are continually finding doors slammed in your face, brick walls in your path, and glass ceilings above you. How do you cope? How do you get out of the crazy maze that has you feeling trapped, alone, and helpless?
Yes, it's true that we often subconsciously create our own problems, but there is also another fact of life and that is... sometimes bad things happen to good people for no apparent reason. Unfortunately, sometimes a whole bunch of bad things happen all at once. The result can be very overwhelming. It's natural to want to give up and quit. Quit your job, quit your marriage, and quit your battle with the bureaucracy that's holding you back. It's also natural to want to punch something or someone and to simply force your way through the problems. Start bullying everyone while demanding that 'heads are gonna roll!' to anyone within earshot. Neither extreme really works in the long run.
The most important thing to do is to take a moment and catch your breath. So often people will keep on keeping on without really focusing on the big picture. They can't see the forest for the trees and are just thrashing around trying to stomp out one fire after another without really analyzing the entire situation from an outside perspective. Take a step back and simply look at the whole thing as one great big problem with lots of little pieces. Remind yourself that if these problems were all spaced out so they happened one at a time, that you would be able to maneuver through each one without falling apart emotionally. It's the sheer number of events that come at you all at once that is the real problem.
Take a moment to organize your thoughts and to come up with a loose plan of action. By reminding yourself that you are technically capable of handling each one of these problems if it stood alone, you can begin to tap into your self-confidence which may be buried somewhere under all of the stress you're feeling in the moment. Square your shoulders and take a deep breath to gear up, telling yourself that you are capable of fixing all of these problems even if you hate having to do so. Don't waste your time on self-pity asking the 'why me' question... the answer will always be 'why not you? what makes you so special that you aren't allowed to have really bad days?' so just let go of that whole concept. It's your turn to have a bad day, so let's just pull it together and start moving into a more comfortable, more positive direction.
Now, prioritize your problems, issues, and roadblocks. Only you can juggle in your mind which tasks need to be attended to first and which ones can wait. I might tell you to ignore your lunch stained outfit without knowing that later today you are going to make a multimillion-dollar presentation to a very important client who has flown half way around the world to hear your speech. I might tell you to drop everything and help your sister because family is so very very important in the long run, not knowing that your sister is a hypochondriac who is constantly crying wolf and really just wants your attention. Look at time sensitive issues, which issues create the most long-term effects, which ones can you delegate to someone else, and which ones will work themselves out given enough time. Don't spend all day analyzing what needs done and what really doesn't need done. Just make a quick reality check while you're squaring your shoulders and mentally run through the list of problems.
Then take out a sheet of paper and write down a loose game plan as to how you want to go about fixing, changing, and dealing with all of the various elements that will need to be handled. Write it down even if you normally don't use to-do lists because you have so many things to monitor and keep an eye on. Later when life is more stable and normal again, you can go back to keeping everything in your head. The reason you have to stay loose with your planning is that you will need to remain flexible and open to whatever domino effects, wild cards, and surprises might fall into place as the various dynamics unfold. This is not the time to be rigid, demanding that everything and everyone go along with your master plan. All that will do is alienate you from those who could maybe offer some assistance.
Finally, look over your plan, see that solving all of these problems and surviving this bad day is quite do-able. Realize that you have all of the skills you need and that it's simply a matter of time management, focus, and raw grit. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don't waste valuable problem solving energy on worrying and fretting over the things that are not at the top of the list. Monitor their status if you must, but keep moving through each item on your list until you start crossing them off. As more and more items are resolved, you should feel your self-esteem increase and your spirits will lift. What started out as a bad day, could very well turn out to be an incredible day of accomplishments and brainstorming. You could find yourself bragging by the end of the day about all the trials and tribulations you managed to weave through. You didn't simply survive the day, you conquered it. There is nothing more powerful then a strong sense of self that comes from solving real life problems with a bit of moxy and tenacity.
Copyright 2006, Skye Thomas, Tomorrow's Edge
About The Author
Skye Thomas is the CEO of Tomorrow's Edge, an Internet leader in inspiring leaps of faith. Her books, articles, and astrological forecasts have inspired people of all ages and faiths to recommit themselves to the pursuit of happiness.