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Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored: What Do You Want to Be?

Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored:  What Do You Want to Be?

Within the next few weeks my daughter is going to start college. I remember when she was two or three and people would tease me with warnings of the hell I would experience during her teenage years. Though we’ve had our battles, I’m happy to report that either people didn’t know what they were talking about or I lucked out.  Thankfully she’s been a pretty good kid.

I’d like to think it’s been the values I tried to instill in her while trying to live by a set of values as her father. At some point I established the following hierarchy of or values or house rules to help guide her.

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  1. Self-respect
  2. Respect for others
  3. Family
  4. School
  5. Commitments outside of school
  6. Friends / Social

I made it clear that her ability to live within rules 1 – 5 would dictate her freedom and ability to enjoy # 6. When she kept her priorities in line, she had all the freedom in the world.  When she didn’t have her priorities in line and she wasn’t living by her values, I had to step in.

At some point in her early teenage years I realized I had to stop telling her what to do and what not to do because of me.  I had to talk to her about the benefits she would enjoy with good decision making and the problems she would encounter with poor decision making.

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It was about that time I started talking to her about the concept of “Rewards, Punishments, and Being Ignored.” I would tell her that the world rewards certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  It punishes certain thoughts, emotions, and actions, and it ignores certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  I would repeat that it is up to her to figure out what all that stuff means in relation to what kind of life she wants to live.

You must figure out what that stuff means in relation to living the life you want to live.

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Thirteen years ago, I was 23 years old and I decided that I wanted to spend my life teaching, training, coaching, counseling, and/or speaking. With only an associates degree in graphic design, I knew I had some work to do if I was going to reach my goals and more importantly, have the kind of life I wanted to have.

Rewards

  • Attitude: In order to reach my goals I needed to maintain a positive, optimistic, and forward thinking attitude.  I needed to be patient, but focused.
  • Emotions: I needed to be confident that the choices I was making contributed to me reaching my goals. I needed to feel secure with the idea that I had a lot to learn. I needed to not take personally that some of my friends and family didn’t understand what I was trying to do and weren’t supportive at first.
  • Actions: I needed to learn all I could about leadership and this included formal education, working with mentors, and tons and tons of self study.  I needed to consult with mentors who could advise me throughout my journey.  I needed to make the time and financial investment to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree in a major that aligned with my goals.

Punishments

  • Attitude:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not have a bad attitude. I couldn’t piss and moan that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I couldn’t allow my expectations be unrealistic.  I knew if I wanted to help people change their lives I could not complacent with attitude.
  • Emotions:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not allow myself to become frustrated with myself or the process. I could not consume my mind with worry and self-destructive thoughts. I could not allow people around me who were not supportive to make me feel like what I was doing was wrong, because they didn’t get it.
  • Actions:  If I were going to reach my goals, I could not become stagnant or lazy.  I could not allow my actions to conflict with my words. I could not appear unfocused or confused with what I was doing.

Ignored

If you spend too much time with attitudes, emotions, and actions that get punished or that don’t align with your goals or the life you say you wish to have, eventually you will be ignored by the world around you.  You will be another person who talks a big game, but doesn’t take action.  You will become the person that when you open your mouth, the world around you will give a big ol’ eye roll and shake their heads because they have heard it all before.  You will become insignificant.

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If you want to achieve all that is possible, you must maintain the right attitude and emotions, and you must continue to take the right actions.  Your ability to do so will be the difference between success and failure or meaning and regret.

You have what it takes.  Go get it!

Featured photo credit: Joris Louwes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

“Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

1. Make a Gratitude List

In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

2. Write in a Journal

Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

3. Meditate

Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

4. Do Child’s Pose

Yoga Outlet says:

“Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

     

    Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

    5. Try Positive Self-Talk

    Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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    When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

    Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

    When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

    When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

    Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

    6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

    Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

    You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

    It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

    Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

    If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

    7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

    “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

    If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

    You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

    When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

    If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

    Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

    Final Thoughts

    If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

    Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

    You can invest in yourself via self-care.

    You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

    More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

    Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

    Reference

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