How To Be OK with the “Sad Days”
I admit, sometimes I’m afraid to feel sad. People have always seen me as enthusiastic, upbeat, mostly positive, and pretty darn happy most of the time. And when I’m not “on,” I get concerned.
Here’s a recent example. After a wonderful vacation in the Caribbean, I came home to an entire week of just being able to work from home. The plan was to make progress on my happiness events. But I just didn’t feel good. Instead, I felt unmotivated and, well … I guess, depressed (even though that word sometimes scares me).
I wandered around the house, played on social media, read a little, pondered life, and spent a lot of time berating myself.
My inner monologue went something like this: “Am I getting depressed? What’s wrong with me? I haven’t accomplished anything today! I spent all day basically doing nothing. I am a producer, but I’m not producing much of anything. Great, now my business is going to fail. Get your ass in gear, Kim! What the heck is wrong with you? Good grief … you’re a Happiness Coach! Are you going back into the darkness? Is this the beginning of a depression?”
Wowzers, my mind is really something else at times! I’ll just admit right now that I have some “cray-cray” in me.
I’ve walked through plenty of darkness in my life—lots of anxiety, panic disorder, disappointments, and other challenges. Because of this, I’m super-sensitized to letting myself return to this darkness, even for just a moment. So, when I start to feel down or sad for more than a couple of hours, I get concerned, and then I try to fake my way through it. I have the completely unrealistic expectation that I’m always supposed to be “on” and that I must be happy all of the time. Such crazy-ass expectations we put on ourselves!
So, I had to coach myself last week … a lot.
I thought back to a conversation I had in January with my new friend, Dr. Kay Corpus. She’s an MD and the founder of “The Center For Integrative Medicine” and “The Yoga Loft” in Owensboro and Henderson, KY. She focuses on women’s health and empowers them to heal their life in really big ways. She also teaches self-compassion. (And she and I will be doing a LIVE 2- hour event in Owensboro this year! More deets to come later …)
Anyhoo, she was explaining to me that a woman’s cycle works like this:
Days 1-14: This the first part of the cycle. Estrogen is at it’s highest, and because estrogen is very energetic, we can feel more social, connected, and gregarious.
Days 14-28: This part of the cycle is more progesterone-dominant. Progesterone is more of a sedative and helps us to “go within” and be more introspective.
It’s like the Yin and Yang of life, or understanding the cycles of both solar (sunny, active, masculine energy) and lunar (moon, feminine, contemplative). The two sides are necessary in life. They remind us that, at times, we need to be in our darkness to rejuvenate and restore ourselves—and that we will soon come back out in the sunshine to play.
So, as I was struggling last week, I looked at my calendar and discovered that the previous month, I had also experienced three “sad days”—and they were the exact same three days I was feeling sad this month! I took this as permission to practice some compassion with myself. I told myself that perhaps I need to be OK with not producing all of the time. Maybe my body just needs time to rejuvenate, to go within, to feel comforted and nourished and taken care of … WITHOUT SO MUCH JUDGEMENT. So what if I’m not the best wife, mom, daughter, friend this week? Can I just let it be what it is for now?
Is my self-worth tied to what I produce in a day? Unfortunately, my answer to that question is yes (I’m working on it though!). But for these recent sad days, I decided to just let myself feel unmotivated. I took two naps, read, got a massage, and had a soul-filled lunch with my 93-year-old gram. I listened to my worn-out body and mind and took a break from producing—even though it felt “wrong” after having just enjoyed a beach vacation the week before.
And guess what? I woke up Friday morning ready to kick the world’s ass! I felt like myself again. Happy, motivated, and smiling at the world around me. The cloud had lifted. And it made me wonder: How can we be OK being totally imperfect? How can we loosen the grip of the outrageous expectations we put on ourselves? How can we give ourselves the downtime we need—without punishing ourselves for actually taking that time?
I don’t have it all figured out yet. But isn’t it comforting to know that you’re not alone, that others (including the Chief Happiness Officer herself) aren’t always 100% happy? We all have our struggles. And to be totally truthful with you, the reason I chase the light so fervently now is because I’ve known darkness. Will I still stumble back into that darkness from time to time? Heck yeah, I will. But I’m not alone—and neither are you.
Kim: What a fantastic message. I have been beating myself up lately as well. I made a choice (leaving my teaching job 3/4 of the way through the year). The decision haunts me every day: Not because I don’t know the decision was absolutely the right one for me, but because of what other people think. Then I reminded myself of Brene. Those people are NOT in my arena. They don’t know what I was going through, or the way that job was hurting my teaching soul. Thank you for this message because we all have to remember it is OK to be human.