8 Things to Do (and Not Do) When Things Go Foul

So, it’s been a foul week.

Things just haven’t gone as planned…unexpected tax bills and gross flu symptoms and canceled projects and back-pain that’s led to sleepless nights. They’ve all happened this week.

The kicker? My beloved Jeep, the topic of more than a few recent posts, sent a signal that its own foul-ness might not be over…

Blog - check engine

(Am I the only one who loathes that foul check engine light?)

No, none of this is fatal…nor particularly tragic. I know lots of people are dealing with far, far worse.

Yet the combination of it all at once has felt pretty foul, and so my mood has been…well…


The good thing? This little bout with foul has given me the opportunity to reflect on what to do – and not do – when foul-ness pops up.

I present them to you now.

Deirdre’s 8 Things to Do (and Not Do) When Things Go Foul

1. Do not bark up the wrong sympathy tree

Far too often we go to family members and friends for support because we think they should be able to help us…yet we know deep down that they won’t. Or can’t. They simply might not have it in them to validate us…or they might spout off unhelpful advice…or they’ll just take the opportunity to talk about their own foul-ness.  Think realistically about the people you go to when you feel foul. Know that the wrong choice will make things even worse.

2. Do pick the right foul supporters

Conversely, a few special people will know exactly what perfect words you need to hear. Go to these people. It’s what they’re there for. Just choose a few, though. No need to spread drama all over the place by creating a whole network around your foul-ness.

3. Do not unnecessarily expose your foul-ness to others

Our moments of foul are not someone else’s problem, so there’s no need for us to show up at a meeting and spew off. There’s no need to have a foul-laden conversation with a staff member or client or friend because we can’t hold it together. Avoid these conversations as best as you can until you feel less foul. Cancel meetings if necessary. You’ll be glad later.

4. Do what you can to fix it…

Sometimes there are things you can do to make the situation better (like taking meds for your aching back) and so you may want to give them a try. If nothing else you might feel productive.

5. …but don’t expect it to completely remove the foul

Sometimes no task will help, and you just need to let the foul work its way out. So give it a little time and know that the foul will run its course. Promise.

6. Do create a separation between you and the foul events

To be clear, letting it work its way out doesn’t mean you just sit there and feel foul. Talk/write/scream it out at first if needed…then allow yourself to be. Distract yourself. Watch TV, read a book, take a walk. At one point this week I literally just lied on my bed for a half hour to ground myself.  I didn’t let myself think. I may have dozed. Whatever the case, it created a distance in time. The latest foul events were now in the past and not the present. Better.

7. Don’t be foul to yourself

It may be very tempting to say hateful things to yourself when you’re in a foul mood. Resist this. Know that everybody feels foul now and then and you’re not a bad person for being in a mood. Say something nice to yourself. Force it if you must, but do it.

8. Do be nice to others

Sometimes getting out of our foul mood is about forgetting about ourselves for a while. Focus on somebody else. Smile at a stranger. Buy someone’s coffee at Starbucks. I swear, this one can raise anybody’s foul mood, even if only a little.

As I write this, things are better…but certainly not perfect.  My back still aches and that foul check engine light is still lit.

But now at least now I’ve got a better attitude about it all, and feeling better as a result.

All because I dealt with it as best I could, and came out less foul on the other side.

This week…

Know that moments of foul will happen, and do your best to deal with it in a way that doesn’t damage you or others.

And know that, no matter what, the foul will pass.

After all, foul-ness doesn’t have enough patience to stick around forever.

Now, go do good…and do it well.

5 thoughts on “8 Things to Do (and Not Do) When Things Go Foul

  1. I like the spirit of your recommendations….mostly that you seek not to spread the “foul” around. For the separation you recommend, I would add to remember that all of those events pale in importance to the scope of your whole life…none of it is likely to get into college history books and that, until we’re all perfect, imperfect things will happen to us. Better to put your energy into how did my decisions get me here so I can go around it all next time. Even then, you have to forgive yourself for not seeing – despite all your efforts and intentions – how to keep things good. And, of course, the next step is to remind yourself that everyone else is in the same shape.

    1. Thanks for some great points, Mark. You’re right, of course, that none of these will matter for a scooch of our lives, and it’s so important to remember that (even when they somehow feel like the most tragic thing ever when they’re going on!)

  2. Your fresh approach to understanding the foul ball of life on certain days provides additional approaches to correct the foul experience to become a benefit in the future.

  3. Patty says:

    Deirdre I commend you on your ability to take 3 very important steps in any life situation: awareness, acceptance and action. It can’t get any better than that and you come out on top.

    1. Great way to summarize the tips Patty! Thanks for your great thoughts!

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