“You’ve had an attack day,” my husband said when I shared my day with him last week.
“Attack day” summed it up perfectly. From bad dreams, to skipped God-time, to tough relationships, to disheartening e-mails, I couldn’t seem to escape the negative events outside of my control. I don’t usually pin bad days on the devil, but there was certainly a pile of negative occurrences that were more than “coincidence.” Some little demon seemed to be flitting around me all day, turning happy moments into discouraging ones.
I know we all have days like this. How do you handle yours?
Want to know my magical method? I quit.
Yes, I full-out quit. Just for a day, mind you. I learned this during graduate school when I was studying to be a speech therapist, working, and trying to write a book all at the same time. I failed a test. I had a bad day at work. My supervisor told me I was a disappointment. An editor told me my book was boring. Etc. Etc. Etc.
“Today, I quit school,” I would say to my husband. Or, “I quit being a worker. I quit being a speech therapist. I quit being an author, just for today.” Saying it out loud would allow me not to think and feel that I could, for a day, just un-be whatever I was.
It didn’t always work, but most of the time it gave me a nice freedom to just live out the rest of the day as whoever else I wanted to be — usually that meant a chef or a writer or a movie-goer. The next morning, I would un-quit and tackle the problem again, usually finding a fresh sense of determination.
I often encourage others to do this when they are discouraged. I don’t say, “Just quit.” because that can be taken wrong (and I’m sure some people reading this blog post may still be taking it wrong. For that, I apologize.) I say, “Take a step back and don’t think on it until tomorrow.”
It’s hard returning a manuscript to editing clients, knowing that they have a lot of work to do. No matter how kindly I state my feedback, sometimes it’s just hard for them to take in. I understand. I’ve been there before. I’ve urged those clients, when they tell me they’re disheartened, to set aside the edits for a day (maybe two) and don’t even think about it until the next day. I had a client who first said he was so discouraged he didn’t even know if he should continue working on his book, and then the next day he e-mailed me saying he was excited and ready to dig into the edits.
Music to an editor’s ears!
So last week, I quit for the day. The next morning, I woke refreshed, journaled out some clarity, and tackled every single problem with some pretty supernatural peace. Ah, the magic of sleep. It separates us from the negatives of yesterday.
Now please don’t hear me saying that you ought to give-up when something goes wrong. (This is my attempt to tackle the misunderstanding that some of you readers may be having at the term “quit.”) When I choose to set aside problems for the day, it’s with the full knowledge it’s for a day. I don’t see it as procrastination or complete giving up, it’s just giving my head a little extra space in which to rest until I tackle the problems the next day. There’s a freedom in that space. We can’t all swallow bad news and then fight it head-on in the same day. That’s when we start venting feelings or writing e-mails we shouldn’t or making bad decisions.
Still, sometimes there’s not time to take a day of rest. Sometimes we have to respond to the awful e-mail or talk to the mean person or retake a test. And on those days, the only rest we can take is through prayer.
So how do you handle “attack days”?