Although I don’t do a great deal every day I have recently renewed my resolve to have at least one complete day when I don’t do any work whatsoever. Last week on my day off I was driven to a beautiful Shropshire valley for a gentle walk. Unfortunately I was feeling a bit grumpy. I didn’t really know why I was feeling a bit grumpy and I wanted to make the most of my day off and be grateful for the opportunity of being out in the countryside. I felt I should be enjoying myself, but unfortunately that was just making me feel bad about the fact that the beauty around me just wasn’t getting through to me. At first I felt guilty about it and I tried to force it, but the more I tried to enjoy myself the more painful it was that I just couldn’t. And then I remembered the importance of self-acceptance.
I realised that it was OK for me to be having a grumpy day. So what if it coincided with the day I’d chosen as a leisure day? It couldn’t be helped. I was feeling grumpy and that was that. I gave myself permission to be just as I was. Within about 10 minutes everything changed. All of a sudden I was noticing the beauty that a few minutes ago had been totally eluding me. What was previously a grey, dull and familiar landscape was literally shining with green grass and beautiful trees. Nothing externally had changed, then sun was still behind the clouds, the sky was still cloudy and grey, it was only my perception that had changed. My decision to try to enjoy myself had not been enough, but my acceptance that I wasn’t enjoying myself, that today I was having a grumpy day, moved me on!
Resisting our emotions is a sure fire way to feel stressed or miserable. We often feel that we shouldn’t feel grumpy, especially if it coincides with a rare opportunity to enjoy something or when there isn’t any glaringly obvious reason why you are feeling like that. Sometimes we’ll even spend precious energy trying to come up with reasons to justify why we are grumpy and just fixate on the things that could be making us miserable. If there is something that’s bothering us, that we know that we can tackle, then it’s best to try to do so. However some days I’m just inexplicably in a bad mood.
Generally I think it’s my responsibility to be happy, it’s about my choices and about actively seeking out joy. But there are days when life just doesn’t work like that. When all that we can do is accept that we are grumpy or miserable today, allow that to be OK and just make ourselves as comfortable as possible until it passes. With true acceptance it’s surprising how quickly it can pass!
If genuine acceptance isn’t helping to move your mood then it’s likely that something needs exploring and airing. Acceptance isn’t always enough, especially when there are issues that need tackling. But it can be a very powerful way of dealing with the grumpiness and misery that has no other remedy.