When everything’s about to go downhill

downhill

Raise your hand if you’ve ever woken up first thing in the morning and somehow known, Ugh, it’s going to be one of those days.

{Raising my own hand.}

Maybe you can hear the torrential downpour outside, and you know there’s no way you’ll get to work without getting soaked. Or maybe you’re dreading a meeting with your boss later that day. Or you might’ve just woken up in a bad mood for no good reason.

Somehow you just know it’s going to be a miserable day.

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL

It’s always on those mornings when you spill the whole pot of coffee all over the counter top. Or burn your hand on your curling iron. Or trip and skin your knee when you’re taking the recycling out first thing in the morning. {Uhh, that last one might’ve just happened to me last week.}

Then the day just gets worse from there.

Whenever you start the day out with bad momentum, it tends to build and build all day long … until by the end of the day, you’re ready to bury your head in your pillow and scream.

It’s like the snowball effect from hell.

THE BEST ANALOGY FOR NEGATIVE MOMENTUM

Momentum, like gravity, is a pretty simple law of nature (even for someone like me who mostly just sat cross-eyed in confusion during high school physics class): It starts slowly, then keeps building up speed and power indefinitely, until something forcibly stops it.

I recently heard the best analogy for momentum, especially as it applies to negative emotions.

Imagine standing next to a car that’s resting in neutral at the top of a steep hill. If you noticed that car ever-so-slowly starting to roll, all you’d have to do is step directly in front of the car and let it bump up against you to get it to stop. No harm done.

If, however, the car started to slowly roll downhill, and you decided that you’d once again stand in front of the car to stop it, but this time at the very bottom of the hill … well, that wouldn’t work out quite as well for you (or for the car).

Once the car is rolling down the hill at full speed, it’s pretty much impossible to stop it — all you can do at that point is get out of the way.

THE SAME THING HAPPENS WITH YOUR MOOD

If you can catch your negative emotions right when they start, maybe first thing in the morning when you think, “It’s going to be one of those days” … you haven’t built up much momentum yet, so you can more easily decide to shift your focus to a more positive track. And you’ll likely change the course of your entire day simply by stopping your negative thoughts right when they first show up.

{Side note: The very best way to stop negative thoughts when they first appear is simply to focus your attention on something else that’s more positive. The more bandwidth you give the negative thoughts, the more momentum and miserable feelings they create.}

If, on the other hand, you wait until you’re right smack in the middle of your day from hell, and then you try to change your mood … well, it’ll be MUCH harder, if not impossible. At that point, you’ve built up so much negative momentum that the best thing you can do is go to bed early and start fresh the next day.

GOOD MOMENTUM WORKS THE SAME WAY

The good news is, momentum isn’t biased, and it works just as easily for good-feeling emotions.

A few weeks ago, a client (I’ll call her Reese) was telling me about one of the best days she’d had in a while. Nothing particularly amazing happened, but she simply felt happy, energized, and peaceful all day long.

Reese told me:

“I woke up before my alarm, the sun was shining in my window, and I automatically felt excited for the day. I didn’t have anything in particular I needed to do that day, so I decided to make my favorite breakfast and then take a walk outside. After that, I felt inspired to go to a bookstore, which I love to do, but hardly ever make time for.”

She went on to describe all the simple pleasures of her day, which just kept getting better and better as it went along.

The best part was when she told me that, midway through the afternoon, she got some not-so-great news from a friend. Normally, hearing that bad news would’ve made her feel terrible and wrecked her whole day. But because she was already feeling so great, it hardly bothered her, and she surprised herself by responding really positively.

Because Reese had built up so much positive momentum throughout the day, her good mood became a buffer against unexpected negativity.

twitter-birdBuilding up good-feeling momentum is the best buffer against unexpected negativity.

WHAT IF YOU DECIDED TO USE MOMENTUM TO YOUR ADVANTAGE?

Since momentum works just as well for negative emotions as positive ones, you can (and should) use that to your advantage.

What if you intentionally started out the day focused on feeling good, and kept building up that positive momentum all day long?

Well, first you’d start to notice and attract more amazing stuff — just like that snowball rolling down a hill, gathering more snow and getting bigger as it goes.

Then, if something not-so-great happened to you later in the day, you’d have a built-in “buffer” of positive momentum, and it wouldn’t hit you so hard.

The great part is, momentum can start really small. If you just focus on one small, good-feeling thought in the morning, you’ll start to attract more positive things, and the momentum will grow exponentially.

twitter-birdOne good-feeling thought in the morning can jumpstart positive momentum that’ll grow all day long.

How can you stop negative momentum right when it starts (before it grows into something unmanageable)? And how can you purposely create more positive momentum? Leave a comment to let me know!

Much Love,

Kristen (+ Rachel)

 

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