Credit: Albert Mallette

I recently had a day that reminded me I am human after all. Those are not my favorite days.

Like many of you, I prefer to be indestructible. But every now and again my humanity creeps in. Don’t tell anyone. We remodeling contractors may not be CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, but on our own small scale, we have ridiculous amounts of daily stress. We seek challenging opportunities. We lead. We manage finances, sales, and production. We brand ourselves for our business and we model ourselves to set a good example for our employees. And we certainly work for love and passion, as this industry isn’t exactly a get-rich-quick scheme. All of this is just part of the deal when you want to be your best and live a full life.

Seeing It

So how do you hold it together, especially on those days when your superpowers don’t seem to be kicking in? You drink lots of coffee and you remember that what you are looking for is what you see.

This was a critical revelation for me. Apparently, my cape was at the cleaners. My usual ability to maintain self-awareness was on the fritz and I was mad and frustrated by everything — a client complaining about improper billing, a neighbor irritated by a truck parked in front of his house, another week of low cash reserves.

As I dealt with these issues, I couldn’t let my heroic facade be shattered, so I got edgy. I blamed others for their inability to cope with the pressures of the job — because I, of course, was coping so well — and I began to sling accusations. Everyone around me was imperfect and incapable. When I closed down on the communication front, so did they. No one wanted to say anything, preferring to get out of a meeting with me as fast as possible.

I lost my ability to see the good stuff and sought out only the bad — and it all looked bad. In retrospect (which, by the way, would make an awesome superhero: Retrospectman — imagine the possibilities), I realized the power of my subconscious. It was looking for stress and negativity to keep me company.

After the fifth bad interaction of the day, I finally stopped and checked in with my body. My shoulders were scrunched, my stomach knotted, and I was breathing as if there was no oxygen. I acknowledged that I can’t fix everything and I had to cut off the negative thoughts.

So if you’re trying to be a superhero and are having a similarly bad day, remember: “What you are looking for is what you will see.” And whatever you do, schedule your cape cleaning for Saturdays.

—Allison Iantosca is a partner at F.H. Perry Builder, a Boston-area custom builder focused on building trust, dreams, and relationships.