Kyle Lawell, LPC

There are days where we wake up and know that something is “not right.” From the moment you woke up, there was something holding you back from being your authentic, happy, and caring self. Maybe you had troubling sleeping, maybe it was the shouting from your kids in the back seat of your car as you dropped them off at school, or maybe there is absolutely no identifiable reason for you to feel down, but here you are.

Let me start by saying, “hello, I am sorry that you’re having an off day and I wish I could make it go away.” Unfortunately, that is not very helpful or realistic. Often, the best thing to do in this situation is acknowledge the discomfort that we are feeling and accept it for what it is. When we try to pretend or ignore that we are feeling sad, irritated, or frustrated with something, it typically makes the problem worse.

It is also important to recognize that you have a choice when you are put in this situation. You can choose to continue feeling this way and allow the discomfort to eat away at your day, or you could ask, “what am I doing in the here and now that is keeping me in this rut?” It is an old belief that the body uses more muscles and energy to smile than it does to frown. This same concept holds true for handling and modifying our emotional state. It may seem strange that we can sometimes find comfort in our sorrow, sadness, and frustration, but it important to realize that these are very familiar feelings that we experience frequently throughout our lives. In this sense, it makes sense why we may feel as if we should continue to ruminate on these feelings and let them consume our day. It is easy to admit defeat to waking up on the wrong side of the bed, but the reward for challenging those negatives thoughts and feelings far outweighs the consequences of not trying at all.

Take a moment to notice everything that you accomplished today despite not feeling well. Maybe you prepared and took your kids to school, went to work all day, ate something tasty that you definitely deserved, or indulged in some much-needed self-care by watching TV, making brownies, or having a relaxing bath. Regardless of what you did, it is important to recognize that you did so in spite of the negative thoughts and feelings that were trying to weigh you down today, and that should not be overlooked.

Take another moment to step back and ask yourself, “what could I do differently in this present moment to change my frame of mind?” When I find myself waking up on the wrong side of the bed, I have a tendency to frame the rest of my experiences throughout the day in a negative light. Recently, I was walking along a crosswalk during my commute to work and for whatever reason, the car waiting at the stoplight randomly jolted forward and understandably startled me as I was standing right in front of it. In that moment, I immediately became angry and frustrated with the driver because I perceived his actions as irresponsible and uncaring. After walking away from that situation, I realized that it was not fair for me to frame the driver’s actions in such a negative light. Maybe his foot slipped accidentally and quickly regain his footing as I was passing him. Maybe he was on his way to get his car checked because the breaks are not functioning properly. Regardless, it put my mind at ease to reframe the experience more positively than how I initially perceived it.

The same can be done when you are having an off day. It may take a bit more patience and energy, but instead of perceiving the aggressive driver behind you as reckless and rude, try to understand what that person might be thinking. Maybe he is on his way to the hospital or he is late to his daughter’s dance recital. Actively deciding to look at your present experiences in a positive light can help us move away from the negativity that started our day. I challenge you to try this when you find yourself saying, “of course this would happen to me today!” or, “today is just not my day.” If you find yourself waking up on the wrong side of the bed on more days than you would like, consider seeking services with our counselors at Symmetry Counseling, where we can help you get back to waking up on the right side of the bed.