What to Do When Everything Sucks
Friday, June 6 2014 Emily Roberts MA, LPC
On a bad day, hearing someone say, “look on the bright side" makes me cringe. It’s difficult to shift your thinking when everything around you sucks, and a generic, optimistic phrase quickly invalidates a bad mood, and you feel worse. If the bright side were easy to get to, everyone would be there. However subtle shifts are obtainable, even when you’re having the worst day ever. They just don't come easily to most of us. There are ways to find positives in life, even when it feels like everything sucks.
Situations that throw you off, even the tiny ones, can turn a dramatic day into a week from hell or the year you wish you could forget. You may have had a tremendous crisis, lost a family member, a relationship, or a job, had money woes or marital problems. Even in the depths of the lowest moods there can be specks of light, you've just got be willing to look beyond the darkness.
It Feels Like Everything Sucks
This morning, as I was walking home from going a little overboard at the store, a massive rainstorm hit. Literally there was a dark cloud hovering over me, and it wasn't just a bad mood, it was a massive shower. As the brown paper bags completely fell apart, and more than $100.00 of food spilled all over the sidewalk, I thought "Sh%*! This sucks." What a way to start my day.
Now, I am well aware that this is a minor setback, not necessarily a crisis, but, still, I wanted to yell, scream, and just go back to sleep; no way did I want to start my day out like this. Instead, I accepted the fact that this is a really annoying and frustrating situation and looked around for a solution. Validating that the situation you are going through is annoying, terrible or troubling is a great way to start moving forward and out of the sucky mood.
Staying stuck in this bad mood would have been a lot easier, but I had too much to risk. I had an important call and loads of clients to see, so a dark cloud over my day wouldn't just affect my mood but those around me would surely feel it too. A kind man saw me struggling and gave me a plastic bag, which helped me salvage most of the items. As walked home carrying my garbage bag of goods like Santa Claus, I said to myself "This sucks but I am so grateful for that guy."
Accept the Feeling That Everything Sucks
You have no control over the weather, which is a great metaphor for life. Radical acceptance, a skill used in dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), implies that instead of trying to control or change things that you truly can’t change, acceptance is the answer. Accepting isn't agreeing or enjoying it, it just lessens the impact that these things have on your mood, your self-esteem and your life. You can’t force your ex to love you again, you can try but you may get a restraining order or push them even further away. You can't control the mean boss or the fact that something bad happened in the past. It happened, it sucks. The more energy you spend on it the worse you'll feel.
When you begin to accept the things you can’t control, which are most things in life, it feels a little funky at first. In fact, you actually may want to try even harder to find a solution, fix the person or invent a rewind button to the past, but you can’t. So wallowing in the sadness really doesn't have a benefit. Your self-esteem suffers making it harder to find happiness in anything. But doing things you love or find interest in can assist getting a more positive mindset into play.
Everything doesn't suck, it's a mindset. 99.9% of your life can feel terrible, but there is something going right; I mean, you are breathing or able to read this. In my moment of misery this morning, I focused on the fact that there were still some positives in the situation. I could have focused on the past but let’s be honest, it was over.
So, what techniques help you see the silver lining on a day when everything sucks? Is it possible to shift your mood just a tiny bit even on the worst day? Comment with your ideas below.
Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.