Often times when we’re confronted with bad or negative news or any external circumstance, our initial reaction can be one that is not always healthy or positive.
For me, one of my strongest qualities is an extreme and passionate commitment to whatever I put my mind to. But the polar opposite of this is also true. It can be my kryptonite—which is an extreme commitment to the same level of passion in a response to a negative event or emotion.
I don’t always step away, compartmentalize and move on as quickly as I would like to.
I’ve been working on this. There’s a lot of benefit to being more aware of our reactions and thoughts rather than actually in them.
Mindfulness exercises work well, developing a stoic attitude when you can keep an even-keeled equilibrium despite negative or external circumstances or events that might ordinarily cause you to lose focus and attention on what is at hand.
I know we all experience this, things that may happen in our business or life that are completely unexpected. These things can put us in a bind or an uncomfortable position.
However, we always have a choice as to how we will react to the news and deal with that situation
The strategy and tactics I’m embracing to try to improve how I deal with events like this are born from a traditional theory in psychology known as cognitive behavioral therapy.
It’s based upon the idea that a thought that comes into our head invokes an emotion, which produces a behavior. It is the realization that for any negative, unpleasant, or regrettable behavior, we have to trace back to the emotion which elicited and prompted that behavior. From there, we must ask, “what was the initial thought that created that feeling or emotion?”
We have an ability to train ourselves through breathing, meditation, trigger words and other mindfulness hacks. This pulls ourselves out of the immediate reaction that we have following a negative event.
We need to remove and look at our thoughts as if we’re outside of our body from afar looking in.
The theory goes that we can replace the negative thoughts that come into our minds, which then trigger the emotions and feelings of frustration, which then lead to the behavior of overreacting or losing focus.
So, if we can catch ourselves and replace that initial negative thought with a more positive thought, it will have a ripple effect down the line from the emotion and the behavior that manifests.
I can begin to get outside of my body and my framework. Even if I don’t agree with another point of view, I can at least appreciate it.
I can see what they believe and what they think is true based on the lens that they’re looking through from their life experiences and unique circumstances.
By doing this, we can realize that our thoughts do not have to become our actions and our entire world. We have options about how we respond to negative news.
We can let thoughts come into our minds and just as easily leave our minds when receiving bad news
But we can train with discipline, if we choose to. By doing that we can start to create a more balanced, a more reasoned, a calmer and more productive response to those negative external events that will always come into our lives.
When we do this, we can have better reactions, relationships, and interactions. This allows us to not lose focus on what we need to be concentrating on just because something came up that was unfortunate and unforeseen.
“Change your thinking, change your life.” —Ernest Holmes
We always have a choice as to how we will react and deal with negative news.
Think of an instance in which you were being criticized by another person. How did you feel? Now think about how the other person felt. If you were that person, how would you feel? Put yourself in another’s shoes.
How did you calm yourself down from a stressful situation today? Did you stop and think, or react in the moment?