Five Steps for Handling Negative Circumstances

“Now that all your worry has proved such an unlucrative business; why not find a better job.” ~ Hafiz

Nowadays it seems like a lot of people are telling us that no matter what is going on in our lives, we “should” see it in a positive manner.

I don’t agree. Sometimes negative circumstances are just negative circumstances. Resisting “what’s so”, regardless of whether it’s negative or positive, is futile and will keep you stuck.

A friend who is experiencing relationship challenges gave me a call. She’s been making herself crazy thinking she should be able to “handle” her feelings of anger and resentment. Her situation consumed her to the point where every part of her life was impacted, including her work. By the time she called, she had just about reached the end of her rope.

There’s a difference between acknowledging what’s so about a situation that feels bad – like unexpectedly losing your job or hearing a difficult medical diagnosis or finding out your spouse or life partner is leaving you – and wallowing in it. Speaking as a recovering “wallow-er” I’ve learned that wallowing is as useless for solving problems as is being eternally and excessively cheerful. Both extremes let you off the hook for proactively dealing with whatever knocked you off track.

How DO you deal with negative circumstances, such as career transitions, economic impacts and other life changing experiences?

1. Dr. Phil often says “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Acknowledge the facts of your situation, including your feelings about it. You feel what you feel and your feelings are valid and true for you. Verbally acknowledge or write down everything you are feeling. Focus on keeping your language simple and personal. State each feeling with a sentence that starts with “I feel…”. Then name the emotion you are present to, such as “I feel angry” or “I feel sad”, or “I feel alone”. Keep going until you have named each and every emotion you are experiencing.

2. Don’t embellish on your feelings. Leave out “because” and your list of reasons for feeling what you feel. Reasons take you away from being in the moment as you process feelings and they aren’t effective for this exercise.

3. “Save the drama for your mama”. Let go of judgments or opinions about whatever emotions you are experiencing. Give up that it’s not fair or someone else is at fault or you or others “should” feel or do something differently. The fact is that they did or felt whatever they did and so did you.

4. Imagine alternatives. By this time, you may start gaining objectivity and clarity about your negative circumstances. Play with possible alternatives that might bring your situation to a viable resolution. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Don’t censor yourself. Jot down whatever new ideas or actions you identify.

5. Take action. Pay attention to what feels right to you in the moment. If you feel like calling someone or taking a walk, then take action. If you get an idea to attend a networking event, job fair or party, then take action. You never know who you might meet who can help you move your situation forward, whether it’s a contact for a great job, a new idea you hadn’t considered, or support you hadn’t anticipated.

When I took my friend through this process, she got clear about the conversation she intends to have with her partner. She sees which needs are not being met and she feels confident about her ability to state what she wants in a straightforward manner. I could feel the shift in her energy as she went from feeling victimized to feeling confident, strong and in charge.

There’s no guarantee my friend will get the result she wants. What seems certain, however, is that by taking responsibility for her feelings and her life, she’ll feel great about herself no matter how her situation turns out.

Are you facing a challenging career transition or life situation? Call Coach Sue today to schedule your complimentary “get acquainted” coaching session or send an email to [email protected] to start the process of turning negative circumstances into positive outcomes!