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.

bandaids

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