Keep bad news bears at bay with pos­i­tiv­ity

Keys to stay­ing up­beat

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

IT seems the “bad news bears” have struck again and more work­ers have lost their jobs. Frankly, whether it is down­siz­ing, right siz­ing or what­ever you want to call it, “bad news” is sim­ply bad news. And bad news isn’t al­ways about a lay­off sit­u­a­tion: bad news can re­sult from the news that a close col­league has be­come ill or de­cided to re­tire. You can also ex­pe­ri­ence bad news when you are told your per­for­mance is not up to par. Or bad news may be when you learn about a work trans­fer to an­other lo­ca­tion or the fact you may be get­ting a new boss whom you al­ready know and don’t care for.

How­ever, bad news in your per­sonal and work life will con­tinue to come in all shapes and sizes and at any time. Yet, you can’t al­low a cloud of neg­a­tiv­ity to de­velop and take over your life. There­fore, the chal­lenge is to re­main pos­i­tive, but as ev­ery­one knows, this in it­self takes a lot of work. Not only that, what steps can you take to en­sure pos­i­tive think­ing?

First of all you have to re­al­ize that mov­ing from neg­a­tive to pos­i­tive think­ing and then stay­ing pos­i­tive means man­ag­ing your at­ti­tude and your mood. Once it’s ac­cepted that you are in­deed in con­trol of how you in­ter­pret and “see” things, then you can be­gin to take the steps to over­come any bad news that comes your way.

So, let’s look at some of the steps you can take to erase any neg­a­tiv­ity and sus­tain a pos­i­tive out­look on life.

Re­view the sit­u­a­tion — re­view the bad-news sce­nario and see if you can ad­dress the root prob­lem. For in­stance, news that your boss is re­tir­ing will cre­ate fear and in­se­cu­rity with re­spect to work­ing with a new leader. Your task is to as­sess your fear while at the same time think­ing about the pos­i­tives that will arise from this news.

Ask what’s the worst that can hap­pen — people have a ten­dency to think in terms of ex­tremes and to blow things out of pro­por­tion thus cre­at­ing fear for them­selves. Ask yourself the ques­tion: “What’s the worst that can hap­pen?” and you may rec­og­nize you are wor­ry­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily. In­stead, iden­tify and fo­cus on what is go­ing well in your life.

Iden­tify the po­ten­tial for a sil­ver lin­ing — some­times when bad things hap­pen, good things can evolve. Ex­am­ine your sit­u­a­tion and de­ter­mine what po­ten­tial pos­i­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties could emerge. For in­stance, a new boss might mean new job op­por­tu­ni­ties for you. What­ever you do, avoid adopt­ing a vic­tim men­tal­ity.

Write down your thoughts — keep a note­book at your side and jot down how you are think­ing. Then, read it back to yourself. Rec­og­nize any neg­a­tive thoughts and de­ter­mine your frame of mind. Talk to some­one about your sit­u­a­tion: ask­ing their opin­ion may help to see things from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive.

Chal­lenge your in­ter­pre­ta­tion — learn and prac­tice how to re­frame what­ever bad-news sce­nario has come your way. If the sit­u­a­tion is a new boss, in­stead of neg­a­tive think­ing such as “I won’t work well with this new leader,” think in­stead, “I will need a bit of time to learn the nu­ances of this new leader.” This puts neu­tral to pos­i­tive thoughts in your mind ver­sus neg­a­tive thoughts.

Cre­ate a bal­ance — stop for a mo­ment and make a “grat­i­tude list” by fo­cus­ing on the good things that sur­round your life. This helps you to cre­ate more bal­anced think­ing that in turn will en­able you to deal with your bad-news sit­u­a­tion more ef­fec­tively.

Ask for help — if your bad-news sit­u­a­tion is cre­at­ing a cri­sis and you can’t deal with it yourself, reach out and ask for help. On the other hand, if some­one isn’t im­me­di­ately avail­able, ask what you would do if you were the one giv­ing ad­vice. This tac­tic of­ten helps to calm you down so that you can act ra­tio­nally and not be over­taken by neg­a­tiv­ity.

Put the sit­u­a­tion into per­spec­tive — many people take the bad news per­son­ally and then get bogged down in the de­tails rather than look­ing at the big pic­ture. Take time to re­view the sit­u­a­tion in re­la­tion to all the other things go­ing on in your life. Is it re­ally that im­por­tant? Does it re­ally mat­ter?

Read, read, read — read­ing a novel will take your mind off your cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. Choose some­thing very dif­fer­ent from what you might typ­i­cally read. On the other hand, read an in­spi­ra­tional ar­ti­cle and/or a book. All of these ef­forts will help to steer you to­ward pos­i­tive think­ing.

Vi­su­al­ize suc­cess — What­ever the sit­u­a­tion, it’s re­ally only a blip in your over­all life cy­cle. Fo­cus on your fu­ture, where do you want to be? What do you want to be do­ing? How do you get there? Keep in mind that old say­ing: “What you see is what you get.”

There is no get­ting around it, the “bad news bears” will con­tinue to poke their noses into your life ev­ery once in a while and cause a dis­rup­tion that needs to be dealt with. How­ever, your real goal should be to ac­quire and sus­tain a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­ward life at all times.

A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude at­tracts people to you and helps to build that strong net­work of sup­port you can call on in times of need. A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude en­ables you do deal con­struc­tively and ef­fec­tively with life’s sit­u­a­tions, to be in con­trol and to cre­ate your own hap­pi­ness and suc­cess. A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude cre­ates op­ti­mism, mo­ti­va­tion and en­ergy to set and ac­com­plish your goals.

On the other hand, mov­ing yourself out of a neg­a­tive at­ti­tude takes work. First it re­quires per­sonal recog­ni­tion and aware­ness and sec­ondly, it re­quires that you to take con­crete and con­scious steps to over­come your neg­a­tive thoughts. But re­mem­ber, your thoughts be­come words and words be­come ac­tions which in turn be­come habits. These habits be­come your char­ac­ter and your fu­ture. Bar­bara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP. M.Ed. is pres­i­dent of Legacy Bowes Group. She can be reached at barb@


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