A couple of years ago I attended a resilience training course. The first thing the trainer said to the admittedly dubious participants was ‘life is crap’ (except he didn’t use the word ‘crap’) I was somewhat taken aback by this, particularly as the course was meant to be about how to deal with the more difficult things in life. His reasoning was that this was the principle we should all accept – and it was how we dealt and managed this ‘crap’ that defined how we felt. We all have to work for a living, we all have to go through the daily routine – life isn’t a bed of roses (unless you’re the couple from Hawick who have just won £33 million on the National Lottery – but even then, being a multi-millionaire will bring its own challenges) The trainer emphasised the point that the only person who is in charge of your emotions – is you.
You can choose how you react to life’s challenges. You can adopt a negative stance, blame everyone else and everything else for you being unhappy with your life; or you can take charge of how you feel and make changes which will enhance your life – make it happen.
I mention this because, along with many others, I have long thought of January as the worst month of the year. With its dark, short days, this month can be really miserable.
Many people feel quite despondent at this time of the year, as the excitement of Christmas and New Year comes and goes so quickly - and then the bills to pay for it all start arriving. I certainly felt good wandering around the shops at the beginning of December, buying goodies for the grandchildren and the feel good spirit made me feel flush. But now the credit card company want paying…
That feel good factor has been replaced by a more negative view. I’ve put on a pound or two over the past few weeks and I feel fat and look terrible (what’s that you say? No change there…) The television is full of adverts for holidays I can’t afford, gyms which I can’t be bothered going to and diets which are a waste of time. My front room still stinks of the brandy spilt over the rug on Boxing Day and, despite getting the flu jab at the beginning of December, I’ve got the makings of the dreaded ManFlu (see Rants passim)
A few days off work certainly recharged my ailing batteries but it seems a long time ago now. It will be some time until my next break and as I type this, snow is beginning to fall in Auld Reekie meaning my commute to work tomorrow will be even more arduous than usual.
I’ll bet you’re glad you began reading this now, aren’t you? Feeling down is widespread at this time of the year. As someone who works in the HR profession (although some may contest the term ‘work’) I know that January is the worst month for sickness absence in the workplace.
These feelings can be increased if the notorious New Year resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. I’ll cut back on the alcohol this month. I’ll make it dry January. That lasted until 4th January – the night before I went back to work...Cut back on eating unhealthy food? Aye, sure I will. I’ve cut right back. Or rather I will after I’ve demolished that tube of barbeque flavoured Pringles sitting in the kitchen cupboard (well, I do hate to see waste…)
Slumped back into old ways? Well, maybe I have. But wait…
We all have periods when we feel less cheerful than usual, but most of us seem to be able to weather these periods of downheartedness and recover spontaneously. Even me….
Everyone faces challenges and falls off whatever wagon it is they’ve leapt on as a New Year begins. The trick is to stay positive, get back on board and start again. Easier said than done you might say. And you would be right.
But you and only you are in charge of your emotions. Yes, sometimes things don’t work exactly as we plan. But this where you should at least try to stay cool, calm and collected. Instead of thinking negatively and thinking about failure and the ‘why me?’ philosophy, keep calm, remain focused and think about the positive things in life.
Think about your dreams; what you would like to achieve in life. Staying positive is really important to help you obtain these achievements. Yes, there will be setbacks. Some days will have more setbacks than others. But only you can control your emotional reaction to these setbacks. Negative thoughts and conversations really can have a negative impact on your mind and body.
Life can be crap. But only if you let it. It can be difficult to be resilient – but the rewards are worth it. I’ve put the Pringles back in the cupboard. And I’ve not touched the brandy. Tempted though I was earlier, I decided against it.
Tomorrow is another day. Despite the snow, let’s see what it brings…