You’re creating your bad days


By David Joel Miller

Bad days don’t just happen sometimes we create them.

Bad Day

Bad Day
Photo courtesy of Flickr (psd)

There are days when bad things happen. There is an earthquake or a hurricane but that doesn’t always add up to a bad day. Sometimes in the midst of all the chaos that Mother Nature sends our way we can find the good in that day. Everyone lived, No one is seriously hurt, life goes on.

Sometimes the universe doesn’t send any calamity our way but we have a bad day anyway.

Ever had a day like that? Things should be going well. Nothing out of ordinary but somehow you hit every traffic light. At work nothing goes right, everything takes longer than it should and you hate every moment.

What if you were creating these “Bad Days?”

If you were to discover that you are creating these bad days would you be willing to do something new? You don’t necessarily mean to create bad days but if you are doing something that gives you this result, would you be willing to try something different?

If you have somehow learned to behave in a certain way and the result of that behavior, the actions you are taking, are creating those awful days then you have some choices. Anything you have learned to do can be unlearned.

You may have slipped into a habit that is causing all these difficulties. Habits are entrenched. We aren’t always aware that we are doing something in a habitual manner but if you start paying attention you can change those habits.

Your brain believes what you tell it.

What you tell yourself becomes the basis for your actions. You don’t have to say the words out loud but if you repeat that thought enough it becomes an automatic thought. Thoughts become beliefs and your brain does its maximum to make your beliefs a reality.

Your brain will make things go wrong if that is what you are expecting, it wants to please you. Say over and over to yourself that “I can’t do this” and all the energy will drain out of you.

Tell yourself that “I am going to have a bad day” and you create it.

On some level, we all know this stuff. You have heard about the power of positive thinking but you can’t bring yourself to disregard those feelings that you are having that today is going to be a bad day. The more you think that today will be a bad day the more likely you are to create one.

You can’t change this by lying to yourself.

You wake up and you are on edge. Things are going to happen at work today and you are expecting this to be a problem-filled day. Your appraisal of the situation is that today will, despite your best efforts, “Be a bad day.”

Being a Pollyanna and telling yourself that life is perfect when you, in fact, know that there are troubles ahead will not fix this one.

This is one reason people will say that positive affirmations do not work. They pick things that they wish were true, that they would like to have happen or qualities they wish they had, but they have picked something that is so beyond where they are that they do not believe this affirmation. The result of these unrealistic affirmations is that you feel more hopeless than before.

The words you use to describe your challenges matter.

Mostly our thoughts are words. Our memories are largely stories saved by using words. Our nervous system can store pictures or emotions but when you think, say to yourself “This is going to be a bad day.” You are telling yourself a story using words.

Change the words and you change the story.

If you were to tell yourself that today will be difficult, could you believe that? What if you say today I face challenges? These ways of expressing what is ahead are not rose-colored glasses but they are a lot more optimistic than saying you will have a bad day.

Telling yourself that today will be hard is not the same message as telling yourself that today will be a bad day. Especially if you also tell yourself that you will find ways to cope.

Move from telling yourself that “this will be a bad day” and try saying to yourself “this will be a challenging day” and watch failure turn to opportunity.

Difficult times you can handle, you will get through this and you may grow or prosper.

Try this way of changing your life story and see what happens. If you find a set of words that helps you please share that with the rest of us. I am always on the lookout for anything that will help move me along the road to happiness.

Your self-talk does predict the future. 

Remember Self-talk and affirmations change your life. 

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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5 thoughts on “You’re creating your bad days

  1. Reblogged this on Overcoming Generalized Anxiety Disorder and commented:
    Great (and realistic) advice from David Joel Miller. There is a lot to be said for expectations and difficulties shaping our narratives -even day to day.

    “The words you use to describe your challenges matter.

    Mostly our thoughts are words. Our memories are largely stories saved by using words. Our nervous system can store pictures or emotions but when you think, say to yourself “This is going to be a bad day.” You are telling yourself a story using words.

    Change the words and you change the story.

    If you were to tell yourself that today will be difficult, could you believe that? What if you say today I face challenges? These ways of expressing what is ahead are not rose-colored glasses but they are a lot more optimistic than saying you will have a bad day.”

    In trying start overcoming my anxiety, I initially latched on to some life mantras of varying perspective and source that were great conceptually, but left me feeling like something was missing. Life just didn’t seem so clean as to be aptly described in a sentence or two without overgeneralizing. It was (for me) another way to avoid my fears. Rather than worrying when faced with uncertainty, I was latching on to interesting ideas that I thought might serve as a way to “solve” my negative response to life’s challenges and opportunities. Some helped me form a more comforting narrative for myself that sometimes allowed me to wriggle out of my portion of responsibility for making healthy change. I like the suggestion by Mr. Miller to simply knock the predictive narrative down a notch, with a more realistic aim, and go about your day.

    While I still value the insight I gain from exploring the sort of existential bumper sticker phrases we toss around, I’ve found it more helpful to me to acknowledge the hardship or the unique circumstances of so many of life’s events in a way that is more specific to that event. I think that lack of acknowledgement of hardship and the uniqueness of events was part of what sparked and fueled my anxiety in the first place. If I made a mistake it was either fate or that I was a screw-up as a person. Notice how both of those options excuse me from making any changes that I’m in control of? Of course, when I realized that wasn’t getting me anywhere, I resorted to worry -excessive thought about what changes I could control- and that didn’t work out well either.

    Saying x,y, and z were difficult today, rather than saying I had a bad day allows me to better understand where my difficulties come from, change what I can, and have an easier time with those difficulties as I move forward. It sort of feels more organic to me to look at things this way. I’m not trying to frame my experiences using some awkward tool, but just trying to see them for what they are. It’s a difficult habit to change, and I can’t say I’m anywhere close to 100% successful, but I like it.

    Like

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