Stop ruining your own day: 4 ways to react differently when life gets bad

I love kids, so at my friend's boy's birthday party I decided to show off and impress them, by blowing up a balloon really, really big. The kids were watching in awe as the balloon got bigger and bigger and bigger, until suddenly... BANG! it burst in their faces. Oops.

Aside from being a bit disheartened that my party trick was over, I noticed two very different reactions from the mums: 

One mum turned to her boy and said “Oh, Scary!” and picked him up. He started crying.

The other turned to her boy and said with a smile, “Oooh, exciting!” . He started clapping his hands.

 Throughout your life you will have developed belief systems, values and expectations, which mold your perception of what is happening in the world.

Exciting or scary, opportunity or risk, good or bad. These labels will be placed as a result of the millions of choices and experiences you have made and had throughout your life.

Is your thinking "GOOD", "BAD", or "IT DEPENDS"?

Look at the following list and think about your own personal situation.

Read them out and say out loud whether these events are “GOOD”, “BAD” or “IT DEPENDS”

  • Leaving your job
  • Losing your job
  • Finding a fiver
  • Getting conned out of a fiver
  • Losing your house and moving in with your in-laws
  • Monday Morning
  • Your car breaking down
  • Stood up on a date
  • Getting married
  • Getting divorced
  • Being locked in a cell
  • Going to war

What may surprise you is that not everyone puts these in the same category.

In fact the only reason you have said some of the above events are "bad" are because you think they are. 

And guess who has control of how you think? Yep thats right, its you.

Think of a "bad" event

Now think of something that happened to you recently that you would class as a "BAD" event.  Maybe you illegally parked on double yellows and then locked your only set of car keys in the car with the dog (OK that was mine for last week).

But the big question is... how did you react? Were you effing and blinding? Did you blame someone or something? Did you get angry or feel like you never have any luck? Did you punch the side of a car and sprain your wrist?

How effective was that reaction in helping you get through the situation?

How did that reaction make the rest of your day better?

Choose your reaction

I was in Edinburgh visiting my friend Jen when, as I was running across a road, my phone fell out of my pocket and smashed into a million pieces. I picked the bits up, put them in my pocket and asked her where she wanted to go for lunch.

Why was I not mad?

Well my phone was going to have to get fixed either way, so I realized I had two options:

  1. I could either choose to be mad, curse at the world, ruin the day and bring my friend down, or…
  2. I could choose to put it in my pocket, go for lunch and have a great day out.

Why punish myself with not just a broken phone but a ruined day and a damaged relationship?

Now, what I am not suggesting you do is to ignore the bad stuff, and be a happy optimist, skipping off to war on a Monday morning, clutching a fiver holding desperately to the wisp of a silver lining.

You can be a stressed, anxious, ball of angry flames if you really want.

As long as you have chosen to be a stressed, anxious ball of flames.

And that is the important part. In the choice.

Do you choose to react like this? Is it helping you to deal with or to rectify the situation?

 

Make Change 

Choosing your reaction is hard. So I would invite you to follow this process to help:

  1. Increase the space in time between the event happening and you reacting. Build it from half a second to 1 second, then 2 seconds, then 5 seconds.
  2. In that space be aware of how you are about to react. Don't change anything yet, just start to be aware.
  3. Start to make very small changes to the way you react. Try breathing. If you are standing up, sit down. If your fists are clenched, unclench them. If you rush, walk slower. Ask a question instead of saying your opinion. Repeat what they said to you. Buy yourself some time so you can choose how to react. Change patterns so you don't naturally react on instinct.
  4. Continue to make small changes in your reaction until you have complete control.

Remember this is very hard to do and don't beat yourself up for slipping back temporarily into old ways. Keep reflecting and don't give up.

Victor Frankyl, holocaust survivor, when locked in the concentration camps said:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.” 

He was an inspiration in the concentration camps to the other prisoners with his amazing ability to control his thoughts and reactions whilst in some of the most horrific conditions imaginable.

When faced with a "BAD" situation that seems out of your control, don't ruin your day further by reacting to it in a negative way. Choose your reaction, and choose how you the rest of the day will pan out for yourself and others you meet.

Have a great week,

Jen

CreativeMind Sales Training