This weekend I had the pleasure of speaking on the topic of success at the Thin Air Summit in Denver. Part of the experience was a Q&A session where my friend Brian asked, “What do you do when you have a bad day? How do you get out of it?” Well, today is one of those times so I thought I’d answer the question best by sharing the process with you.
Most mornings I wake up and write. This morning I woke up to an early telephone call and felt like someone not only threw the book at me, but expected me to jump in and play the part. Please allow me to explain.
In 1983 when I was a stressed, overworked VP for a real estate firm, I hired a temp named Donald, who also moonlighted as a spiritual teacher. After working with me for three weeks, he decided to give me a needed education. He explained that life is like a book, where each day we make the choice to either wake up and jump into the book or to take a step back and realize that we are actually the author of this book, not just an actor. We are so much bigger than our stories- those crazy, overly dramatic situations we create in our lives. He realized that I was deep “in the book” of this new job, experiencing all the stress and drama possible. And I wasn’t having any fun either!
He explained that when we are struggling to pay the bills, when we get fired from our job, or can’t find enough hours in a day to get everything done- that may seem very “real” and may appear to us as that’s who we are, but on a deeper lever, we know it’s not. More accurately, that experience may be something that’s showing up in our world, but it doesn’t define who we are. He reminded me that first and foremost, I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I do have a choice in everything, everyday- even when it appears that I don’t.
I know that what I focus on grows and I was only focusing on the stressful aspects of life. The only way for me to get out of that situation was to consciously make a choice to do so and change my focus. I now know that as the author of my book, I do have control over my life. And as good as that sounds, that doesn’t mean I remember this every day or in every moment either.
What seems to be the determining factor on the quality of my life isn’t how much stuff comes at me each day, but rather my reaction to it. The telephone call this morning interrupted my normal routine of writing in my journal, meditating, visualizing and setting the intention for the day. The book was thrown at me and I was expected to jump in and play my part. Unfortunately, I jumped right in and played the game acting as a player in the drama. I so wanted to get into the “he said, she said” of the situation and prove I was right. The entire conversation was frustrating and uninspiring. When I hung up I felt resentful for the interruption and then angry with me for allowing myself to get sucked into the drama.
And then finally, after a few minutes of pouting and virtual stomping, I laughed and felt grateful for remembering that I know better. Just because the world is hurled at me- I don’t have to catch it! I have the choice in that moment to jump in and play, or not. Once I remembered that I am the author, everything became easier. Nothing was as serious as it seemed just moments before. I have the power to make the choice to play the game or not- and today, I’m just not playing. I shut the book and put it down. There are more fun things to do, so instead, I’m rewriting the script to fit the day I choose to experience.
So in answer to your question Brian, “Yes, we all have ‘bad days’, or difficult moments”. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you forget who you are, what matters most is how quickly you remember the your true magnificence. Change the pattern. And like exercise of any kind, the more we do this, the better we get at it, and the shorter the virtual stomping time has to be.
Do I still have to deal with this situation? Probably. Does it have the same emotional fire over me that it did earlier this morning? Not a chance. See it for what it is- just a little drama and nothing more. I am responsible for my world. I choose to step out and remember that I’m the writer of this thing called life. Let’s go write some really good stuff and have fun! ☺