Life was feeling out of control one day last week. Everything seemed to be breaking around me. Relationships felt as though they were failing. Deadlines were being missed. Employees were late or taking off. My pants weren’t fitting as comfortably as I would like them to, and I didn’t feel as though I had a minute to breathe.
It all started the night before when I’d received a disturbing email from a client basically asking me to wind down half of my current project with them until their budget situation improves. Typically this is a benign request, but I began to revert to old behavior.
Rather than accepting the email for what it was and journaling my thoughts, I let my mind take over. I immediately reverted to finding all the negatives that are in my life and why, as a result of this small change, failure would be imminent. I started to get angry. It immediately began affecting my responses to all my other emails and my family. I began to exhibit aggressive or fault finding behavior with those around me.
As I began to walk around my house, I looked to see what I was going to miss most as a result of being a failure. While this thinking is extreme – it happened and I had to find a way to deal with it. I had reached out to the client on the phone and had not heard back in hours. Finally, around 7 pm the phone rings. It’s the client on speaker phone with his wife. The old me would have asked him to take me off speaker phone so we could discuss the email, even though that was clearly not the right thing to do.
I have lived by a saying: you don’t always know the right thing to do, but you definitely know the wrong thing – so don’t do that thing.
Something in my re-wired brain that I have been working on for quite some time took over. I heard myself saying, “enjoy the evening with your wife – there is nothing in your email that is going to keep me from sleeping tonight. Let’s just catch up in the morning because nothing is going to change between now and then.” I don’t know where this power came from – I am glad it arrived at that exact moment.
My own words even started to slow my racing thoughts down. I didn’t begin believing immediately that everything was going to be OK. Regardless, I mustered up the strength to say those words with a smile. I then returned to my den to sit down and watch a movie with my daughter. I looked at one of my committed goals, “Be Present”, and I wondered if I was really doing that. Thinking about the spinning world was the exact opposite of being present. I wasn’t truly valuing or experiencing the time with my children and wife. I was being selfish and living in a self-manufactured state of worry, fear, anger, and anxiety.
The takeaway from this example is that there are ways to rewire your mindset and attitude during difficult times. Below are the steps that I always turn to:
- Create a gratitude list
- Create a spirituality list
- Journal how I was feeling for the day
- Set micro-goals for the day
If you are interested in learning more about my methodology or need some guidance, feel free to contact me anytime.