I heard an unusual dose of bad news last week. You’ve seen some of it too, from Facebook friends upset about the election results to more sensational news stories that only reflect the personal disasters coming to a head at work or home. The real gut ache for me is when I feel actions are unjust, not only for me, but for others. So how do you handle bad news?
My husband always said, “You learn a lot about someone when the s–t hits the fan.”
This proves to be true. A long history of quotations from famous people prove that overcoming obstacles is part of life and character-building. You will be judged by your actions and reactions.
“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters,” Epictetus (Greek philosopher, 55-135).
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power,” Abraham Lincoln (American President, 1809 – 1865).
“There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time,” Malcolm X (American activist, 1925-1965).
“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities,” J.K. Rowling (English author, born in 1965). She has many other great quotes too, like, “If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
What did I do when I arrived home with an upset stomach and skin buzzing with anger? I cleaned. The first thing I did was hug my dogs, of course, but then I immediately filled with sink with hot bubbly dish water and scrubbed away grease. I vacuumed dog hair dust balls. The laundry machines in the basement got their work out too, while I attacked the refrigerator and threw out tubs of one-week-old food. I broke out the water pic and turned it up to full blast on my gum line.
I rode my bike to a hot yoga class and groaned and growled in my hot shower afterwards. I reached out to new and old friends, casual and professional friends, accepted every social event invitation, and filled my calendar with support and connecting times. And then I did that stupid thing women do when they stare in the mirror too long, which for me is any time at all. I started to scrub my face, squeeze blackheads like they were menacing intruders, and pluck the few stray eyebrow hairs that no one would ever notice anyway. Physical pain, self-inflicted pain, somehow briefly triumphs over searing emotional pain. But shortly afterwards I felt more idiotic than before, all red-nosed and teary-eyed.
I think I feel hungry for sensory experiences opposite of the seated receiving end of bad information. Long walks and bike rides in cold November air feels like an arid version of a cold shower, rinsing away any hot-headed anger or violently passionate thoughts. Snuggling with husband and dogs to a movie at night thaws the heart again. Hugs from best friends works a special kind of magic on the soul. And then there is cooking and eating with my husband in our cozy kitchen that heals all. At least for a moment or two I feel the security and love of home until the offending thoughts sneak into consciousness again and stir my stomach for the umpteenth time
To ultimately soothe my mind, I remind myself that I’ve been through much worse, and I owe it to myself and my family to find my best case scenario. I asked myself to find a more rewarding situation and now fate asks me to challenge that very task.
What do you do when you sting with bad news? How do you react to a nasty swallow of tough luck?
What mantras do you chant in your head? Do you rely on any sage advice or age old wisdom we should all know?
Here’s to better days to come!