How often does this happen to you: Through a fluke of miscommunication with a colleague, you get stuck with having to do a project that you hadn't planned on. Your boss isn't giving you much of an option, and it has to be done the next day, regardless of everything else on your plate. You've already put your foot down to set that personal boundary, and it has already been shot down. Perhaps some touchy statements have been emailed in a flurry back and forth 50 times. Are you in a bad mood or what?
There are three possible reasons that we may be feeling crummy about this situation:
1. You are angry that someone's emergency affects your planning
2. The world should respect your schedule.
3. The world should respect your schedule (and let's face it, you just don't want to do it!)
Whereas my go-to for breaking out of a bad mood include watching Louis CK comedy videos, visiting the "best of Craigslist" site or gangstering up the web at gizoogle.net, sometimes these just don't get to the root of the crumminess I feel (perhaps you can relate). Here are some tips to deal with the anger and frustration that comes when the world doesn't conform to the way you think it should. They may not bend the world backwards for you, but you will feel better about the situation and not have it negatively affect the other areas of your life.
1. Take a deep breath or 10. If you close your eyes now and just one deep breath, see how you feel. There's something magical about the breath that reminds us that we are still here and everything is going to be OK.
2. Acknowledge and talk out your feelings. You may feel like going into hiding and not coming out for a while and that's OK too. Just make sure at some point you verbalize your feelings to someone you trust. From my experience as a health coach, talking to someone who doesn't give a response right away gives you the space to properly air your feelings so that you confront them in a way that feels true to you.
3. Don't assume that it happens only to you. When I was going through my bad day, I talked it out with my colleague and she was also feeling frustrated with the same issue and so it helped me see that it wasn't personal. This is a good way to know if this is an isolated event that is only happening to you or if it happens to everyone. Which leads to...
4. Know that it isn't personal. The boss just has objectives to be met that are different from yours and they expect to see it carried through. Recognize that you also have your own reasons for your actions. Conflict arises when the needs of both parties differ and that's OK. It's not a reflection of your self worth and you're not less of an employee, it's just the nature of teamwork.
5. Resist blaming. Blaming happens if you're using a lot of "shoulds" in how you describe the situation. This is extremely difficult, as I was shoulding all over the place (She should have told me in advance! She should have given me more time! She should have better scheduling skills!). In doing so, I realized that should statements tend to harden us in our position that we are right and they are wrong, which makes it hard for us to really understand how to deal with the situation objectively. Once I viewed the situation as not as favorable as I would like, rather than what I thought it should have been, it will helped me see the situation more objectively and how to prevent future occurrences.
6. Cooperatively restate your boundaries for the future. In my case, I just said that I was happy to help, but that the earlier I know the deadlines in advance, the more likely that I will be able to make time for future projects. I also informed the boss of the consequences (I had to inconvenience three people to make time for the intruding project). You're standing up for yourself by sending out the message that "you have been forewarned."
Dealing with having to pick up on someone else's poor planning is frustrating, and it's natural to feel this way. By recognizing and voicing your feelings, understanding different management styles, and reiterating your working preferences will help you deal with the situation more effectively. Above all, you make the effort to be heard so that the bad mood vibes don't contaminate other areas of your life or fester inside of you. Remember: you may not be able to change the circumstances, but you always have a choice on how you want to feel about it.
Need someone to talk to about your bad day? Catherine Chen, Ph.D., is a Health Coach who believes that you are important, no matter what you achieve. She works with high-achievers to move past the guilt, frustration, and overwhelm that prevents you from living a life of passion and purpose. Sign up here to get a video series on finding your awesome at http://www.achievewitheasenow.com