Repairing a Bad Day

The other day, I received an extremely disappointing e-mail.  As I read it, I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  In a few short paragraphs, six weeks of work disappeared down the drain, leaving behind untold extra hours, inconvenience and aggravation.

I could have cried. In fact, I almost did.


And then I caught myself. Cliched as it sounds, I realized I could choose my response to the news.  I could fall apart, throw a fit, or have an attitude. Or I could decide the e-mail wouldn’t ruin my day. Here are some things I did to make that happen:

  • Caught myself. Made the decision to have a good day.
  • Hit the ‘pause’ button. I made the executive (and might I say very wise) decision not to respond to the e-mail until my emotion passed.
  • Decided not to obsess. Whenever I found myself thinking about the e-mail, I consciously redirected my thoughts elsewhere, with a ‘rinse and repeat’ caveat.
  • Decided not to turn the situation into a moral issue. Decided not to feel like the aggrieved party victimized by the Bad Guy. Decided just to let all that judgment that go, as much as I could; just to fix it and move on.
  • Made some positive connections. After getting the email, I went out to do some quick grocery shopping at lunch.While out, I made a point of having fun, light, positive interactions with the deli counter and produce  staff. I came away from each interaction feeling happier. Along the way, I enjoyed Safeway’s 80′s musical selections and smiled at a couple babies.  I surprised myself by actually feeling–there’s no other word for this–joy. Within 15 minutes of my devastating news, I felt peace and happiness, though my annoyance wasn’t completely erased.
  • Used humor. I found myself making more jokes than usual at lunch.
  • Remembered these ups and downs and challenges are all part of the game–the HR game. One step forward, two steps back, one step to the side….   I shouldn’t get too caught up in any throw of the dice, any chess move, because really, it’s all in a day’s work and it will all work out all right. If HR was an easy profession, it would be boring. I’m in it because it’s challenging, exciting and ever-evolving.

When I stopped in the kitchen at lunch, my boss shared a presentation he’d just seen, which coincidentally included this quote by Viktor Frankl:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

I wish I could always respond as graciously to set-backs as I did that day, but the truth is that I do sometimes allow disappointments to dampen my mood. Maybe remembering this post will help me continue to learn how to bounce back as quickly as possible; as a minister used to say, “I preach what I most need to hear.”

How do you recover from hurts and disappointments? Share your tips!

photo by Mimi_K

If you liked that post, then try these…

Fun at Work by Kfrancis on February 5th, 2010

Why it Pays to be Civil at Work by Krista Ogburn Francis on November 22nd, 2010

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