“The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.”
~ Richard Carlson
I’m sure everyone has days or weeks when everything goes to plan. When you seem to jump out of bed in the morning and have a spring in your step and a can-do attitude. It is on days like this when nothing seems to get in your way and ticking things off your to-do list is as satisfying as it is commonplace.
I’m even more certain that there isn’t a person on this earth whose every day is like this. For whatever reason, these glorious runs of high-performance and super-positive productivity don’t last forever and are inevitably punctuated by their counterpart: the low, the downturn, the downswing or the rough patch – usually characterised by a lack of energy, an undercurrent of negativity and a general all-pervasive apathy.
I’ve often asked myself why this happens and I’ve come to believe that the lows (as well as the highs) are just the way of things – the natural ebb and flow of life. If this is the case, what, if anything, can we do about it? One of my fundamental beliefs in life is that we cannot control or change what happens to us, but we can control or change how we react to things and that is the principle that applies here for me.
Because feeling low is completely normal and unavoidable, what becomes important is not trying to eradicate the lows, but learning how to better navigate them when they occur. In this post I want to share with you the primary way I do that in my life and business.
Recognising the low
Our lows have a tendency to sneak up on us. One day, we simply get out of bed with more of a shuffle than a spring, we head to our office and sit down at our desk with our shoulders a little more slumped than usual and as we begin our working day, often without us even realising it, there is a low-level hum of negative thoughts running through our mind. If we don’t get wise to what’s happening, before long, our inner critic is on the rampage with thoughts like: This is hopeless, I’m never going to make this business work. I’m just not cut out for this. Who am I to help people anyway? I can’t even help myself! It doesn’t matter what I try, nothing seems to be working and so on and so forth.
Before we know it, we’re googling jobs or funny cat videos (or both) and our work for the day has gone out of the window. At times like this it’s essential that we recognise that we are having a bad day because when we don’t acknowledge what’s really going on, we start to believe the nonsense our inner critic is feeding us. It’s on days like this that I like to acknowledge that I’m having a bad day. It doesn’t necessarily make me feel better to do so but it does make me conscious of the fact that my thinking will be off and that I therefore can’t trust it. So when the barrage of negative thoughts begins, I can say to myself the line an old Coach of mine taught me: “I hear what you are saying but I thank God it’s not true.”
You see the negative thoughts and feelings can be there without influencing what we do. If I believe that it’s all useless and that what I’m doing doesn’t matter then I’m much more likely to throw the towel in and give up for the day but when I get what’s going on, I can adjust my expectations of what’s possible for the day, depending on my level of consciousness at any given time.
Another metaphor that really helps me with this comes from Transformational Coach and Author, Michael Neill, who refers to the glass elevator of consciousness (sometimes also referred to as the ladder of consciousness):
“As individuals we all experience life at different levels. It’s like being in a glass elevator – the world looks different depending on what floor we’re on. And the elevator of our personal consciousness goes up and down all day long. When our level changes, our view changes right along with it: the higher our level, the clearer our view.”
~ Michael Neill
I like to think of it this way, if our elevator has stopped on the ground floor, then our view is limited – perhaps we can only see the walls of the adjacent building and with no view of the horizon and little sunshine, it’s dark and our view is obscured. At this level, our awareness of what is possible is also limited and we may experience feelings of depression, sadness and stuckness.
As we raise a few levels we might be able to see the streets around us and more of our local neighbourhood. Here we have a higher perspective but still a very personal one and also somewhat limited. We see more possibility, but not all the possibility that exists.
Now imagine going high, high up in the elevator, where your view takes in more than the surrounding buildings and streets but also the surrounding cities and even higher still has you able to see the horizon off into the distance and the wider world around you. At these higher levels, you have access to much wisdom and you see the bigger picture of life.
You’re no longer stuck in personal or negative thinking and can see that there is a wider perspective available to you. Possibilities are limitless here.
When we find ourselves in a lower level of consciousness than we’d like to be, rather than worrying about how to get to a higher level, resting in the knowledge that whilst we’re at this lower level, we’ll have limited access to all of the information we need, is our doorway to wisdom.
Knowing where we are at any give moment is wisdom, in and of itself. It’s also important to note that no level is right or wrong. We can change our level of consciousness multiple times a day and doing so is a natural part of life. It’s important not to beat yourself up if you find yourself temporarily at a lower level. Simply by being aware and accepting where you are right now will see you moving in no time at all. What has people getting stuck on lower levels, is self-judgment and self-loathing for being there.
So this is what I like to remind myself of when I’m having a bad day. Knowing that when my mood drops all that has happened is a shift in my level of consciousness, really helps me not to get sucked into the drama of it all. These days I’m much better at patiently waiting for my elevator to move on up a level or two and it always does. When we can truly embrace the idea that “this too shall pass” we don’t hang out in the lows for quite as long, we don’t buy into our negative thinking or make regrettable decisions while we’re there. We just wait for our elevator to move again and get on with our day as best we can.
How about you? How do you navigate the bad days? I’d love to hear what works for you, so do let me know in the comments below.
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