Before I became a mum there was one thing that I really, really wanted to do and that was to be able to breastfeed my children. I was able to and was so grateful. Even so, there were moments where I found it hard, relentless even and it was then I turned to my tribe who said: “never give up on a bad day”.
I have followed this advice for all sorts of situations since:
- Mid run when I was hating every second and it felt like my legs were made of lead
- When I felt overwhelmed by the emotions of a family crisis
- As I tried to return to work after my first child
- When I set up my business and no clue what I was doing
- In fact, any time I feel I’m not enough
In my own life I’m generally a stubborn so and so who will carry on way past the point I should have stopped. This isn’t about doing that and I wouldn’t recommend it! (I’m working on it). Nor is it to dismiss any mental health crises. If your mental health is suffering then talk to someone.
Never give up on a bad day
First, you need to acknowledge the feelings of frustration/disappointment/anger/guilt and remind yourself that it’s perfectly normal to feel this way about things…even if you really love something.
Then, remember that other brilliant phrase “this too shall pass” because no feeling, thought or situation stays the same forever. Change is inevitable.
What do I do next?
Next, you need a plan, a strategy to get you through. Now this will depend on how your day is going. If today is a bad day then my advice would be to:
- Give yourself a break, emotionally, mentally and physically. You are important and it’s ok to do whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe today. Watch TV, curl up in a ball under a blanket, call a friend. Just get through today.
- You don’t have to keep trying today. You can stop. Nothing bad will happen. Press pause until you feel a little better.
- If you absolutely have to do something then set a timer and just do ten minutes. Then reassess.
- Remember that you are not alone
If you’re having a good day then here’s the plan:
- Think about what makes you feel better when you’re having a bad day and get what you need together. Maybe it’s an ‘in case of emergency’ box or a stash of chocolate or a nice journal or a friend on speed dial. Have it ready for when you need it.
- Consider your options. Is this working for you? It’s ok to stop, even if it is working but if it’s not, what can you do?
- Could you pause the activity/goal/task?
- Do you want to delegate it to someone else?
- What can you change to make it more manageable?
- What would stopping look/feel like?
- Who can help you? Mentally, emotionally or practically?
- Focus on the next milestone. What do you need to get there? How far away is it? What’s the smallest step you can take to get there? Break it down into smaller steps if you need to or readjust your goals/timelines
- Find someone to talk to – a mentor, coach, someone who’s been through something similar.
- Remember why you started this. Passion for something or a deep-rooted value will get you through many a bad day. Find a picture, quote or something else to remind you when you feel like walking away.
Make a conscious choice
What I love most about this little sentence is that giving up is still an option, if you really want to. The key thing about choosing to stop doing something is that we make our best decisions when we’re of sound mind i.e. we have all the information we need, our minds are clear and we have a plan of how we’ll do it. It has to be a conscious decision, not one made through the fog of negative emotions or as a rash decision. We all have challenges to overcome and in doing so, we get stronger, more resilient and we can choose to grow.