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When Everything Goes Wrong: Getting Through One of Those Days

Stressed

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” ~Maya Angelou

Sometimes you just have one of those days, where things happen to you over and over again, as if someone up above is testing to see if you really want to have a good day. Unfortunately, 95% of us give in and decide that it’s just going to be one of those days.

What if one of those days really meant the happiest day of your life, despite the fact unfortunate events temporarily plague your existence?

A few weeks ago, a highway patrolman took pity on me because I was having one of those days.

It all started with a trip to the accountant. After spending a decent amount of time procrastinating on finding an accountant to dive into my complex taxes (freelancer, two businesses, consultant, full-time job, multi-state), I was finally behind the wheel hopeful for a decent return as I drove myself to a small town an hour away because of a terrific referral from a friend.

Rushed as normal due to an extended, discipline-extinct session on Facebook, I didn’t notice that the address I entered into GPS was not actually where I wanted to go.

(Note: Whenever dealing with directional streets, make sure your GPS doesn’t drop the actual name of the street and decide to take you to 109 West Street instead of 109 West Main.)

Because I was listening to a business podcast, trying to multitask instead of wasting precious time in my day, I didn’t notice my final destination was a dirt road in the middle of a ranch until I actually arrived there. Now I was lost and very late.

I called the accountant’s office for directions, mad at myself for not realizing earlier that something was not right. Because I had no idea where I was, the accountant’s office couldn’t tell me where to go. I begrudgingly re-trusted my GPS, extra careful to double-check that the directions were taking me to the real address.

Operating with a faint trace of panic in the pit of my stomach, I pulled back out onto the highway from the dirt road, only to find myself in between an oversized truck and his escort car.

The truck driver was not pleased that I broke his chain, and passed me a little too zealously. While I don’t think he intended to run me off the road, he did lack a basic understanding of how oversized his load actually was and off the road I went to save my car (and my life) from damage.

Slightly annoyed, I pulled back onto the road, knowing I would now be a little later than I already was—except this time I was in between the oversized truck and his exterior escort. Not wanting to be a part of this relationship any longer, I decided to pass all of them. At 85 mph…on a 75mph highway.

Enter the state patrol. At this point, I laughed. I really just wanted to get my taxes prepared; I wasn’t expecting getting lost on a dirt road in the middle of a ranch, getting run off the road by a wide-load truck, and getting pulled over by the highway patrol. It gets better.

Obviously unhappy, the highway patrolman brusquely let me know that I was breaking the law and he would have none of that on his watch.

He requested my driver’s license as standard procedure. As I rummaged through my oversized purse, I tried to explain that I was lost, late, and had just been run off the road by that wide-load truck in front of us, and I was just trying to get out of the way. My wallet was missing.

With a smile, I politely informed the patrolmen that I didn’t have my driver’s license. It was at this point that he chalked up the events of the previous hour to one of those days.

I nodded and proceeded to produce every form of document I had to help him find me in their “system.”

We eventually found it, though it took a good ten minutes (hint: provide your full name, including middle initial if you’re ever in a situation where a police officer needs to find you in his “system”).

I luckily got off with a warning, and went on my way. Miraculously, I arrived at the accountant’s office only thirty minutes late for my appointment.

The meeting was easy because my rudimentary organization for filing my income and expenses was apparently all that the accountant needed. In less than fifteen minutes I was headed home.

It was at this point that I realized how nutty the past hour and a half had been. It was only 11:00am. I had a full day ahead of me. It’s also at this moment when 95% of the population would have chosen to let these events define their day. I had too much to accomplish to let that happen.

The secret to making it out of those days with a sense of peace and calm? A sense of humor, deep breaths, and an appreciation for the story.

The thing is, I was able to understand that I am not my stories. I have good ones, but they don’t define me. They make others laugh and they make great blog posts and Facebook fodder, but they do not define me. I am more than my stories, my body, and my mind. I am better than that.

Give yourself more power than your stories. Rewrite them, edit them, trash them, and rearrange the plot. Allow what comes to come as it may, and then take what works and let go of the rest.

My story is a battle scar, but I cleansed my mind to allow the wound to heal quickly. I didn’t hold on, hold grudges, or hold back. I experienced it all—the panic, the fear, the laughter, the despair. And I moved on.

The rest of my day was not bad at all, but it was funny to watch the reactions on Facebook. To the commenter who observed, “What a day,” I simply replied, “That was only the morning.”

Don’t be so quick to bundle your unfortunate moments with your entire day. Think of all the moments you’re missing out on if you pre-assign them to the same fortune that found you in the past.

P.S. It was worth it. My tax return will pay for a plane ticket to Europe!

Photo by andronicusmax

Profile photo of Ashley Josephine Herzberger

About Ashley Josephine Herzberger

Ashley Josephine Herzberger believes each of us was born with a purpose in life. She helps Gen Y women rediscover their soul work using yoga, meditation, and other inspiring practices on her website. Her idea of a perfect day involves yoga, writing, good food, friends & family.

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  • Vid

    My one of ‘those’ days has been going on since 2007, I dont know when will it end. Surely I do not believe in miracles like you do. Things have been pretty ugly and unstable.

  • TommyGirl

    Having power over the story – amazing tool! Thank you for sharing this inspirational lesson.

  • Ashley Josephine

    Glad you found it helpful TommyGirl!

  • Ashley Josephine

    Hey Vid! Sorry to hear you’ve been having a tough time. For sure some things happen in life that are really, really crappy and at a much more extreme level than my petty little story. But no matter what happens we can only control one thing and that is how we react. It’s a choice. This is not to deny the crappiness of what happens to us. It is just to say that we acknowledge what has happened and choose to move past it. Certainly easier said than done. My guess is you’ve been doing this more than you might give yourself credit for.

  • That story made me laugh because I can look back and remember days exactly like that. They do make good stories…eventually. 🙂

  • Rachna Bobade

    I agree with you but sometimes such events may go on and on for days, months or years when nothing seems to go in your favour

  • Byron Go

    You point out in your post that you created this day. There’s great responsibility in that. And–I feel like it’s stepped over in the post to celebrate the result and your amazing ability to reframe and recover from the situation. There’s no denying that you made lemonade from lemons, with the help of an understanding patrol officer. In the end, that’s a great ability to cope with a presenting issue, but how does it attenuate to the problem that got you into that situation in the first place?

    You realize in your post that you had created the situation where your presence was spread so widely between podcast and timing and driving and accounting that you ended up in an unnamed dirt field, lost and late. I guess I just would love to hear you share the steps one can take in their life to ensure that that doesn’t happen in the first place.

    Is there inherent value in doing more, do we glorify a full schedule, do we put ourselves in a place where we get to clean up the mess we made when one of the spinning plates falls? Did this day happen to you? Where do you think you can make a difference in how this goes next time?

    Thank you for letting me express my concerns–the space for this conversation is so appreciated.

  • ashley josephine

    Hi Byron. Really great comments. You are right, I created this situation and if I had been more present I wouldn’t have gotten lost, wouldn’t have been late, wouldn’t have been speeding, etc. Many of us live in hyper-busy worlds where our presence lacks and we end up with “those” days. In this particular article, I was looking at exploring how to not get caught up in those days even when we create those situations for ourselves.

    Obviously, if we are present from the get-go, we probably won’t have as much crap happen to us, but even then, we can’t always control what does happen and it still can be crappy so starting with the awareness to move past the crappiness whether you created it or not is a huge step.

    In terms of things you can do to stay present, breathing is the best tool I’ve found. Also, I read once about someone’s daily reminder in their calendar that popped up and asked them the simple question: “where am I focusing my attention right now?” It served as a keep me on track type of resource.

    I hope this is at least a start for you and thanks again for reading and providing such great commentary.

    With gratitude,
    ashley

  • Byron Go

    It’s awesome. It’s not just one or the other, right? We can actually do both! In those moments of spiraling, give ourselves space. That helps from difficult becoming untenable.

    And in order to shift the overall problem, there’s reshaping

  • ashley josephine

    Hey Rachna,

    It’s true, sometime things go on for a long time. Same rules apply though, as much as it is not fun. What can you learn from each situation?

  • growthguided

    “Operating with a faint trace of panic in the pit of my stomach” is something I think most of us can relate to. A great way to describe that negative anticipation we all carry in our solar plexus when we are in startling situations!

  • Vid

    thanks

  • I loved reading this! “Don’t be so quick to bundle your unfortunate moments with your entire day” — excellent quote. It’s something I have to continually remind myself of…it can be tempting to write off an entire day and feel indignant/let that color other things that happen later.

  • aries

    Great post Ashley, first time reader here. Will follow you from today.

  • Akshitha

    For me, today started with the exact same notion. Things did go downhill and I was so low in the dumps when I came across this story of yours. I have renewed hope now that the rest of the day will be better and it’s all for the best.

    Thank you, Ashley!

  • Linda

    Hi Byron.. its been a year you wrote this and you will not likely found out about this.. your “though love” kind of got my ears… I have been in the days Ashley describes for years now.. many of the things that happened in the last 5 years have nothing to do with me.. but I guess, some of them have to do with me.. mainly “not giving myself space”, running around for work, trying to live a “normal life” (I mean work at the same pace, read, do all kinds of stuff) when sooo many out of control things are happening (legal, financial, family, psychological and physical – health-related events for me and my close ones and even two losses from immediate family).. even now.. I am writing this at 12:17 am.. after my appartment flooded earlier today and I am exhausted… but felt a bit desperate and wanted to read something to feel better.., I had only one meal.. was busy with work things that changed unexpectedly and I had to plan a trip due to this change… how can I expect to feel rested and be productive tomorrow? you have nailed on the head something I needed to hear.. even if hard.., I appreciate it… I need to create for me better things even when everything else seems to not help…going to bed right now.., good night… and thanks Byron, thanks Ashley for writing about these things..

  • Byron Go

    Linda, two months ago, this popped up in my inbox. The website does a good job about that. And then I intended to write back to you, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, and then x and y happened, and here I am. I know how it is, as do you.

    And I wanted to honor your message and share the gift your words gave me. I am so grateful, for you. For your candor and honesty, for how much you care and pick yourself up to make it all work even when it doesn’t look like it does and you don’t know how it’s going to go. I admire you for hunkering down and putting day after day together, even if things don’t seem to add up or make sense. And for letting ME know that my words can make a difference. That they’re all worth putting down.

    I can’t wait for the time when you take all of that drive and energy and life and apply it toward something that truly lights you up and brings you deep joy.

    And in case you’re looking, in case it helps, I’m here Making them in the moment, for the moment, changes your life and experience of it IMMEDIATELY. Instantly. And them making them for the moments in the future, even if it’s just a couple minutes of moving in a different direction…it’s amazing how two minutes over a year becomes over 12 hours of time spent. Moving you in a direction that you are excited for, that you care about, that moves you. And that’s only with a couple minutes in a day…how about if you gave yourself 5? Or 10?

    Start wherever you are at–all that you’ve done prepares you for all that you can be. Your experience leads you to connect and help others who have been in the same space.

    You have a dream for the world. When I say world, that might be everyone on this planet, or just a couple folks. Whatever you regard, you have a dream for it. Will you allow yourself to dream, and take just one tiny step in that direction? See where it takes you? If you want support in that, if you want to be led through it, let’s do it!! Truly, please let me know. 🙂

    Big love.
    Byron

  • ellie

    Funny, I would’ve considered this a good day by getting off with a warning. Shows how much perspective weighs on our sense of happiness.