He who laughs has not yet heard the bad news.
– Bertolt Brecht
At some time or another, we all have to cope and contend with bad news. Whether of our own or another’s making, bad news can leave us in pain, feeling lousy, and with a sense of hopelessness. And then there’s the anxiety, frustration, and anger that orbits such news. Being insanely practical, I am not about to suggest that you remain unrealistically cheerful when receiving bad news. However, there are some miraculous “Bad News” management techniques that you can instantly and strategically deploy to keep you from being devoured by the unspeakable.
Without further ado, let’s get started with your new “Bring It On” Bad News Toolkit –
THE “BRING-IT-ON” BAD NEWS TOOLKIT
STEP ONE. Own What’s Real. Most bad news is not really bad news. I’ve always loved the quote from Terry Goodkind: “People are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to it to be true, or they’re afraid it’s true.” (Wizard’s First Rule, 1995, Tor Fantasy) When discovering or receiving bad news, then, the first step is to ask yourself, “Is this real?” and “Is something else really going on?” When you detect that you might not be getting the full or precise story, you have a healthier and more productive state-of-mind and the bad news can be seen in a new light.
STEP TWO. Own Your Bad News, Not Other’s. Many people have substantial misery-boundary challenges; they can’t distinguish their difficulties from the troubles someone else might have. Truly bad news that is YOUR bad news, requires your full attention, energy, and solution creation abilities. You can certainly understand someone else’s bad news but you are not going to help them by entering into and staying in the drama and their feelings to the point where you cease to be a good support system for them. Go ahead and express your sympathy and concern. But don’t let the commiseration last to the point where you can’t help sustain your friend or family member. When it’s your bad news to bear, seek the company of those who will do for you what you would do for others in your situation; namely, surround yourself with those who will help you to reduce your stress, concern, and worry.
STEP THREE. Own Your Emotions. Truly bad news – whether it is romance-, health-, or finance-based is crushing. Keeping your emotions to yourself and securely hidden inside isn’t going to serve you very well. There will be a time for courage later on. Right now, find someone you can talk to or, failing that, start journaling. It’s purifying and liberating to admit that you’re scared or sad. And crying is good for you. Talk or write through your hopes, dreams, obsessions, and fears. Then . . .
STEP FOUR. Own The Positive Side of Things. It’s been said that, no matter how thin you slice the bread, there’s always two sides. Owning your negative emotions is a necessary part of destroying the effect of bad news. Wallowing in those emotions is not. Take 10 minutes and write out all of the positive things that might come out of the bad news you have received. I know this might be challenging. But, there are always affirmations and advantages to be found . . . even if you have received crushing news. You are not the bad news. The bad news is something that you are going through. The one thing that can’t ever be taken away from you is your control over your thinking. If you wan’t some real inspiration to get you going for Step Four, take a look at the following:
Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo
Steve Jobs on Death – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lR6-elnwBmM
Tim McGraw’s Live Like You Were Dying – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiOcW_YR1G8
And then do yourself a real favor and visit Richard Machowicz’s website – Not Dead Can’t Quit – at http://ndcq.com/.
STEP FIVE. Own the Options. Get with the professionals. Get with your knowledgeable friends. Get in touch with those who have been through or are going through the same bad news as you. Use their experiences, understanding, and wisdom to find out what is really going on and what can be done to fix the situation or get peace of mind if a solution is truly out of reach. Taking back your choices rather than giving in to someone’s or something’s dictates is what life is all about. Participate in your own success in fixing the problem. At the very least, participate in how the bad news is going to be dealt with. Remember, “you don’t drown by falling in water; you drown by staying there.” (Edwin Louis Cole)
STEP SIX. Own Your Support System. I wrote earlier about finding someone to talk to and with. Step Six is about taking this aid to the next level. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. You never have been. Now is the time to find those family and friends who will help you with the challenge you are facing and provide you with the proactive support you need to get through your obstacle.
Bad news is never easy to receive and can be tough to deal with. I want to leave you with a couple of quotes to get you moving into massive action designed to change the way you receive, handle, and walk away from bad news:
“In life, things happen around us, things happen to us but the only thing that truly matters is what happens within us.” – Source unknown
“And remember, it’s also very funny, because side by side with grief lies joy.” – Fran Drescher
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