What Do You Do when Bad Days Happen?

My five year old, Alyssa, is having a really bad day. As we all know, bad days happen. It’s been quite a tearful morning. No, she’s not sick and she’s not hurt. Assuming she just didn’t sleep well, I asked, “Why are you so sad today?”
I don’t know,” she said.
Alyssa is typically a high-spirited, funny, creative and playful little girl who is full of joy, so this morning was definitely not herself. She pouted as we went out the door, protested going to pre-school {one of her favorite places in the land, as she’d say} and broke into sobs as we pulled up.
Oh, what a tough morning for her and for this mama.

Encouraging resilience

Part of my job as her mother is to help her become resilient. I am to prepare my children for life, both good days and bad. My role is to build her up, encourage her, teach her and to console. So through my own tears that remained well-hidden behind the surface, I told her, “I am so sorry you are feeling sad today.”
I told her that I know what it’s like to have a bad day I encouraged her to push a little harder through her morning to see if she would find a smile after playing with her friends for a little while and creating her morning art project, which is something she loves to do.
I encouraged her to push through just like we all sometimes have to do.

It’s okay to not feel okay

I also reassured her and reminded her that I’m on her side, that it’s okay to not feel okay. I let her know that I believed with everything in me that her day would get better if she let it and that I am here for her if it doesn’t.
Promising her that I would be back soon and that I would come early to pick her up if she needed and that we would get through it together, I left her to try to fight through it.
I think it’s an important thing to remind that we need to be gentler. Bad days are going to happen, we’ve all had them. Hard circumstances and difficult times will arise where we just “can’t even” and we don’t want to face the world.

Sometimes we need to fight, sometimes we need to feel

Yes, I do believe in fighting it – we need to see if we can push through it, “turn our frown upside down” and get past it. After all, the world is still going to turn, the day is still going to pass into night and everything around us will be business as usual.
I do encourage resilience and a certain level of stoicism, humankind just wouldn’t survive as a whole if we didn’t aim for that.
But sometimes it’s just not going to work. Sometimes we are simply “just sad” and we might need to take a break. We might just need to allow ourselves a day {or more for harder circumstances} to sit in our feelings for a little while, process them and feel them.
Life is hard enough without us being so hard on ourselves.

Feel them out

Feelings are real, they’re ALL going to happen – sometimes all of them over the course of a single day! The best thing we can do?
We need to feel them out. All of our feelings are valid and should be acknowledged, explored and felt. A lot of the emotional and psychological issues {namely, depression and anxiety} that people {waves hand – EVEN ME!} deal with circumstantially? They are due to unprocessed feelings we don’t know what to do with.

Remember - it’s okay

So the next time you’re having a bad day, I want you to try to bounce back. I want you to try to find your joy and turn it around.
But if that’s not working? I want you to know it’s okay. I want you to take a break as soon as you are able, find a friend you trust to talk to and to sit in it for a little bit.
Before the big push, I want you to allow your feelings to be felt.
Chances are that time you take will bring you back around stronger than you were before.
And as for Alyssa? There has been no phone call so I think she found her joy today. If she hasn’t? we’ll snuggle up in a little while and I’ll let her know It’s okay to not be okay today;
There’s always tomorrow.


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