Positive responses to life help and negative responses harm. When bad things happen, it makes sense look for positive ways. Of course, many ways that seem positive have a seed of negativity. Here are six poor-to-okay ways that each contain at least a bit of negativity and one good way that’s a pure positive response to bad things.
We can wallow, complain, worry. or hate (WCWH). Pretty much all negative, these reactions have a scary tendency to reinforce or repeat the problem. Hate, by the way, includes blame of self and/or others.
We can go numb. Not bad as an alternative to WCWH. Going numb gives us time to catch our breath and not overreact. We will still be holding on to the WCWH deeper inside so we won’t want to stay here too long.
We can paste over, pretend it’s not there, put on a happy face. Deep down, despite appearances, we don’t believe ourselves. This reaction is WCWH hiding behind a smiley face.
We can look for the message or meaning. We can learn from the situation, find wisdom, and maybe prevent it from happening again. This is okay as long as we don’t slip back into WCWH; seeking a message or a meaning can imply we are still stuck focusing on the bad thing.
We can try to find the silver lining. Not bad. We can use this as a stepping stone to feeling good. Of course, to focus on a silver lining means we are convinced of the existence and power of the storm clouds.
We can go neutral. Having no particular reaction, this is a good alternative as long as we don’t slip into “numb.”
We can feel good, for real. I recommend this reaction because feeling good–yes, in the face of the bad things–gives us access to the best possible solutions. And feeling good has the happy tendency to reinforce or repeat itself. Start by simply acknowledging the facts. Then use any of these tools to help you get to feeling good: the flip, the ladder, telling yourself a different lie, the keep-or-toss, focus on the good stuff, and this is me.
In your corner,
PS: Extra credit if you can find a way of not judging the situation as “bad” in the first place.