It’s summertime! Time for road trips and festivals and family outings and new experiences and traveling and late nights/early mornings. This is a beautiful time to step away from the hum drum of everyday life and really dive into our highest, most Radiant self. Stepping away from our routines, we can focus on and cultivate the qualities and life we desire by focusing on our own unique gifts, traits, and life blessings. We can establish new practices to live from the best parts of ourselves and find the space to hold the goals we want for ourselves. This is the essence of the Law of Radiance.
But it is also a time that is often filled with traveling stress. We don’t have our kitchens (or coffee/tea pots) near by. We step away from our body’s happy schedules. Not to mention, we often are gifted with a constant togetherness which can even get overwhelming for the most extroverted, people-loving person (i.e., me). Which makes it prime time for grumpiness.
Whether you are working long hours, traveling across the country, feeling pressure from work or your partner, there are times when you may get really tired and grumpy. And sometimes you may get hungry and grumpy (aka “Hangry”). Sometimes you may get tired and grumpy. Sometimes you may not have worked out like your body wanted and are grumpy. Sometimes you are just plain old mad at the world.
In these moments, we are not acting anywhere close to our highest, most Radiant self–the one filled with gifts and talents and rare qualities and beauty and love. Instead, we are acting from our close-to-Lowest Self. The one who doesn’t care about anything but our basic needs. The one who does not help us build stronger, more loving relationships, but rather can break down the love and trust and joy we have built and want to cultivate. The one who is not creative and responsive and bubbling up with our life’s calling but rather is insecure, pessimistic, discouraged, and discouraging.
When we are grumpy, we lose our filter and say things we don’t mean. Or we say things that we do mean but say them in a mean way. We lose our commitment to use kind words. We get overcome with the grumpy monster and now our Radiant self is hidden under a bushel.
One of the hardest things to do when you are grumpy is to contain your grumpiness and then let it pass, before you do any real damage to yourself, your dreams, and your relationships. But the good news is there are some things you can do to help yourself–and your loved ones–when your bad mood begins to take the wheel. Here are a few tactics to help you navigate those moments of crankiness so that you can soon be back on your Radiant, loving path.
- Preventing the grumpies from taking over in the first place. This seems easy enough, but it takes planning in advance and communicating your needs to those around you. For me, I need to bring snacks wherever I go and take lunch breaks. But I don’t always take snacks and lunch breaks. I get busy and time flies and I’m not home and I think it will be fine until it is totally not fine and I spiral downward. You know what you need–those essentials you can’t compromise– whether it is time alone, a morning run, caffeine, prayer or meditation, Game of Thrones, yoga, food, or sleep. Whatever it is we need, we need to do better for ourselves and ask others to support us in doing better. By preventing ourselves from getting grumpy by taking care in the ways that we know are important to our emotional state of wellbeing, we can save ourselves and our loved ones all kinds of grief.
- Take a break. Sometimes you may not realize it, but what you really need when you are having a grumpy breakdown is a break from everyone and everything. Take a moment to get out of the situation and be by yourself. Take a few moments to reconnect to yourself. Say a prayer; do a little meditation. Take a walk alone. Step away from your loved one to remember how much you love them, even if they did just spend the last five hours driving you completely insane. Take a break to come back into your Radiant self wherever you are. Take a break to get some peace and quiet. And then do that–get some peace and quiet in your heart so you can come back with it shining.
- Start Over. This is when we are already in deep. We are cranky, hungry, tired, upset. We are short with our partners or our children or our traveling companions or total strangers who happen to cross our paths. We are feeling out of control and already guilty about what we just said (or at least we know we will feel bad about it later even though we are determined in the moment that we were justified). We feel like we are past the point of no return here. But we aren’t. At any moment, we can get a grip and start over. Here’s an effective way to “win” an argument– simply end it. Ask for others to let you start over or join you in starting over. And apologize– there’s nothing much more disarming than that. Extra bonus points if a hug accompanies your request (NSFW). Try again. Sure, everyone remembers what you just said and how you acted, but they want you to do better too. So try it. Begin again and this time let your Radiance guide your words and action.
- Have a Mantra ready to help you bring yourself back to your Radiance. Have a pre-programmed mantra you can say to yourself in challenging times. During those moments when you feel like your brain is just not thinking clearly, you have something to grasp onto, a little reminder to help create a window for your Highest Self to shine through. Maybe your mantra could be “In this moment now, I am thankful.” Or “I see love in all places.” Or “I am radiate love and acceptance.” Or “Even now, I choose love.” You can even repeat four or five of your best qualities in a sing-song voice. (For instance, try to remain grumpy if you repeat your best qualities ten times in a happy voice: “Patient, friendly, loving, creative, insightful.”) Choose a mantra that resonates with you, and say it to yourself over and over when you are battling with the grumpies. And say it over and over when you’re not battling with the grumpies to help it really get programmed into your head so when you are grumpy you will remember to use it. I write my mantras and key words on post-it notes and stick them on my bathroom mirror and my computer monitor–a great little reminder I see throughout my day.
- Give someone a hug. Hugging is powerful; slow hugs are even better. Hugging brings us right back to our priorities–to give and receive love. Hugging helps you get back to your Radiance in an instant. You actively are connecting with the love and light within and giving it to someone else. And what you are giving to them you are also giving to yourself. Hugging can help interrupt the cycle of grumpiness–that thought process that is filled with frustration, and then taking that frustration to mean something bigger and more important–like when your partner didn’t wash his dishes and suddenly you are convinced it is because s/he doesn’t value and respect your time and space. Stop the cycle! Give someone a hug. When your friend or family member is the grumpy one, it helps them to reconnect with their own Radiance. Suddenly, you are checking them in their grumpiness, and they are reminded of the love you have for them and the love they want to give to you but momentarily cannot.
- When you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. As a talker, there’s nothing I like to hear than to be quiet, but seriously… Take a deep breath and just be quiet. Sometimes there are moments when you just really need to do what grandma always said and bite your tongue. You will save yourself and others a lot of pain and disappointment if you can just manage to not say mean things when you are feeling grumpy. If you can’t say anything encouraging and kind or productive and you’re feeling out of control and cranky and like you just want to be alone in your bed with a cheese pizza, one of the best things you can do is just to remain silent until the moment passes.
- Forgive yourself and others. This can be a hard one. You’ve let yourself down. You promised yourself to always be in a good mood, and eat snacks, and get good rest, and now you’ve gone and thrown all of that away, and you’re cranky and irritable and annoying to everyone around you. You’ve been short with your loved ones, you complained about something that bothered you, you blew it way out of proportion. Again, no excuses here for poor behavior. But there’s no need to hold a grudge against yourself. Try to be understanding and compassionate. We all say things we don’t mean sometimes. It hurts and it sucks and we all wish we could take them back. Just forgive yourself, forgive your friend or family member or loved one. Help them find their Radiant self, and ask for help in finding yours. Be patient and loving and gentle with yourself and them. And then be more Radiant next time.
We all have moments of grumpiness, but they are only temporary. The better we identify them, the easier it is to move through them with gentleness, compassion and patience. Allowing them to pass with self care and kindness eases our path back to Radiance.