5 Tips for Coping with Black Friday Disasters

Black_Friday_Shopping_linesHappy post-Thanksgiving, my friends. I hope you had a wonderful day yesterday and are enjoying your leftovers today. (Thanksgiving leftovers are the best.)

We’re talking disasters this week, and I’ll tell you what would be a disaster. Me. Today. In a mall. The last time I attempted a shopping spree the day after Thanksgiving — years ago, when Black Friday was mild compared to what it is today — I ended up elbowing a women in the face to get at the last cashmere sweater. Did I break her nose? Doubtful, but, man, was it bloody. The craziest part of it was that the women barely blinked. She tilted her head back, covered her nose with her scarf, and grabbed the cashmere sweater right out from under me because, stupidly, I’d stopped to apologize profusely.

I kid you not.

I bloodied a woman and I was chump enough to lose the sweater. I spent hours obsessing over this disaster, when, in reality, the sweater stealer didn’t care and the sweater was a horrible color anyhow. Let’s face it, most of our so-called disasters are our reactions to events rather than the events themselves. (OK, burning down your house, that’s a disaster … but I’m only talking about perceived disasters.)

In writing and in life, we often get caught up in our crazy head crap. We get down and anxious, stressing over things we can’t control, or we flog ourselves over little slip-ups and imperfections. We can end up feeling like our whole lives are Black Friday disasters, when really we’ve only accidentally elbowed a goldarned sweater stealer in the nose.

So how to deal with difficult moments that feel like disasters? Here’s what helps me:

1. Get out of your head and into your senses. Take a breath and notice what’s around you. The way the windshield wipers swipe away raindrops. The scent of bar-b-cue wafting out of the restaurant you just walked past. Here’s where you practice thankfulness. For the raindrops. For the scent of bar-b-cue. You’ll be amazed at how being in the moment can provide a much-needed reality check.

2. Ask yourself: Will this matter five years from now? Of course not. You farted during downward facing dog in yoga class and it smelled and everyone knew it was you and now your so mortified you never want to show your face again? Disaster! No … five years from now you’ll have forgotten about it — or at least it will have become a hilarious anecdote.

3. Remind yourself of the old proverb: This too shall pass. Right now isn’t forever. Everything is temporary and this is actually a blessing in disguise.

4. Smile. Did you know that smiling even when you don’t feel like it has a positive neurological effect? True. It works for me coupled with #1. I suggest performing this one at home so you don’t come off as a crazy person. Wait, forget I wrote that, because five years from now (#2) will it matter that a stranger saw you smiling at nothing and thought you were off your meds? Nope.

5. Eat chocolate. Wait, did I just write that? Hmm … It stays. Chocolate helps. Chocolate always helps.

Remember, however abnormal you feel in your head-crap moments, you’re not. When I compare notes with my friends, I realize just how normal I am. At times, everyone feels like they’re walking disasters. It’s so normal, it’s not worth stressing over.

And in our writing lives? Your story isn’t a disaster, it’s a work in progress just like you are.

How do you cope when you’ve got the head-crap spins going?

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Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

15 thoughts on “5 Tips for Coping with Black Friday Disasters

  1. “Will this matter five years from now?”

    This is the key. So many things seem terrible at the time, but only some of them really matter in the long run. I remember a couple of relationships where I was really torn up when they ended, but in retrospect I can’t figure out what I was doing in them to begin with. And, with some perspective, sometimes you can learn valuable lessons to keep that particular disaster from happening again.

    For example, I learned this valuable lesson about relationships, and it’s helped me ever since: Don’t date anybody whose stated sexual preference doesn’t include you.

    Because sometimes the worst disasters are the ones you have to go through again because you weren’t paying enough attention the first time.

  2. Wow, Lisa. I can’t believe that woman took an elbow to the face and then freeloaded the sweater! LOL. People are rabid dogs on Black Friday, which is why I steer clear. A great list of tips!

  3. I am SO not a Black Friday person. I’d much rather spend the day the way it was meant to be spent: eating leftovers and taking naps and talking to family and watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

    And I love your #1. It’s something I always try to remember, and something we can never be reminded of too often. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

    • I had THE BEST nap today. 🙂

      Gotta say, number 1 didn’t work for me yesterday … Almost got hit by a driver as I was walking, and after a little yelling, I seethed and obsessed for awhile until the adrenaline wore off…Only then could I breath properly again. Adrenaline is so powerful.

  4. That story is hilarious, Lisa!

    I love your tips for staying calm, too. I’ve used them all from time to time, but this is a great refresher to keep them in mind (and needed with the holidays almost upon us!!)

    Also – chocolate is ALWAYS the right answer!

    • Thanks, Susan! Writing this post was a nice refresher course for me, too. God knows I never forget chocolate :-), but lately I’ve been forgetting the five-year question.

  5. Thanks for the timely reminders, Lisa. Re Blessings in Disguise, or Oh, oh. Here comes another FGO (Fucking Growth Opportunity). I really do try to look for the lesson, or as more spiritually advanced friends say “look for the gift” in difficult situations. I say I try, but mostly I curse God and as you so wisely suggested, eat chocolate.

    • Hi Christina! Yeah, FGOs, can suck big time, can’t they? 🙂 I actually had occasion to use my own tips last week and I failed. I wonder what the learning lesson in that is?

  6. Now that I’ve reached the ripe old age of 55, I can see that life is a roller coaster. Ups and downs. I’ve been through enough downs to understand that, as you say – this too will pass, – and we will survive. It’s good to know that. I could impart my knowledge to all the angst ridden teens, and stressed out twenty somethings out there. Thanks for this post. Good to be reminded.

    • Homage anime, sorry I’m so late responding. Thanks for visiting! What’s that saying, If I knew then what I know now?

      I just visited your website — so cute and inviting! I’m a library fan for sure. 🙂

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