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September 21, 2022

Gray Days

Pre Note: After last week's announcement, there's only one spot left in our new Practicing Resilience Playlist. Learn more and join us here.
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It’s been a tough couple of years. And the doom-and-gloom headlines don’t seem to be slowing down. Add hefty workloads to the recipe, and it can feel like gray day after gray day.

There is no silver bullet for making everything better. There's no magic pill or recipe for happiness. But maybe there are a few shifts each of us can make within ourselves.

Watch It Like a Movie

The best place to start is simply: awareness.

Imagine your life is on a movie screen and you're the main character. You're sitting in the front row as you watch the events unfold. What do you see? What are you noticing about this person and the life they're living?

You’re The Main Character

Now go from watching that moving, to stepping into it as the main character. How does it feel? Not just in your mind and thoughts, but in your body?

This kind of self-noticing is the first step to change. It's a reflective mindset — one that values pausing and exploring what's happening rather than just moving aimlessly forward. The more observant you are of what you're experiencing, the more knowledge you'll have about what to do next. If knowledge is power, self-knowledge is the most powerful.

This type of noticing comes from quieting the mind in the morning or evening and writing a few thoughts each day. It doesn't need to be complicated or long, just consistent.

Let It Out Again & Again

Once all of this comes to the surface (finally), there needs to be some type of expression. Talk it out. Yell it out (safely). Run it out. Shake it out. Whatever you do to get it out, do it big. Big forms of expression are why people equate "going to the gym" with "blowing off steam" — it’s healthy to really work things out of your mind and body. It doesn't need to be exercise, but work it out. Because whatever doesn’t get expressed usually gets shoved down until it erupts in a way you never wanted or expected.

Now The Hard Part: Acceptance

Have you ever experienced a child who was sad about a toy being broken, lost, or taken away? Or have you ever sat with a friend who was down about a difficult situation? Your response to those situations was probably to pause, listen, offer a word of encouragement, and possibly even give them a giant hug to let them know it's ok. You didn't yell at them, shoo them away, or put them further down. You accepted them.

Whatever you're experiencing inside of yourself, that's the acceptance you need to offer.

The reason this step is so challenging is because most of us haven't really experienced a lot of acceptance. There have been far more messages of needing to change and improve ourselves rather than accept ourselves. So that's the way we treat ourselves — change, change, change. But we cannot change what we don't embrace. Or as a mentor of mine puts it, "Whatever we disown is dangerous, especially ourselves."

Instead of judging yourself for feeling whatever you're feeling, be kind. Really kind.

All together, this work is the beginning of you holding things more loosely. Most of our internal "graydom" is caused by focusing intensely on certain thoughts and feelings. The act of noticing, expressing, and accepting begins to create channels for the events of life to flow through you rather than build up and fester inside of you. They’re just scenes on your movie screen.

Of course, there is more to do — both in theory and in practice. You’ll still need to lead your team, or care for your loved ones, or work on that injury, or process difficult events, etc. etc. It's not that the pressure and gray days will just vanish. You'll just experience them differently if you know yourself better, treat yourself better, and express yourself more often.

Over time gray days will become fascinating days and spectacular opportunities for growth and learning.

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Learn more about our Practicing Resilience Playlist here. (password: sandbox)

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