The Effects of Bad News
Posted on 1st June 2022
Everyone experiences bad news throughout their life. It’s inevitable. Adversities, unfortunately, are a part of our existence. Things do not always go as planned; reality does not care about our emotional reaction to it.
It's so interesting how each person can view events differently. Our ability to reframe and view from a different perspective is a super power when used correctly. This is why it’s a fundamental technique for any therapist to use.
There are social and biological tendencies that differ from person to person. Some people are more predisposed to catastrophise bad events - this is the tendency to exaggerate events much more than the reality of what they are. This does not mean that we cannot all benefit from developing our coping strategies and learning how to deal with life’s adversities in more efficient ways.
Fortunately, we are never locked into one way of thinking, although it can often feel as though we are.
The thalamus (referred to as the junction box of the brain) often brings back 80% of added information that may not be relevant to reality.
We take information from our senses, then we can misinterpret based upon our beliefs and assumptions.
Below are the three P’s that Martin Seligman, the creator of positive psychology, believes contributes towards a person feelings helpless, stuck and well….miserable.
It’s important to note that even the creator of positive psychology views himself as a natural pessimist and has to work hard to overcome this.
"This is going to last forever!”
This can prevent us from solving the problem because although sometimes there is nothing we can do about a situation externally, we can always influence ourselves internally and change our thinking about the situation.
There are things we can change and things that we can’t. The only way to truly know if we can change our circumstances is to give our best effort to make change. If we realise we can't make a difference, we abandon the pointless persistence in favour of an alternative solution.
“This bad thing that has occurred now undermines ALL that I have accomplished”
Humans have a natural tendency to focus on the negative and disregard the positives (known as negativity bias.)
For example, you create a great new video for your YouTube channel, you get plenty of likes but that one person who leaves you a negative comment is your focus.
You fixate on that one negative and forget about all the positives that led to the creation of the video, your creative mind-set, your ability to be able to engage with others.
“I’m a failure!"
This is when you blame yourself for a situation, even though you couldn't possibly be control the outcome.
Yes, you may have had an influence but there were many things that occurred outside your control?
Was that one thing really your responsibility? Will beating yourself up over what has happened really help?
Personalisation is when even though something happened outside of our control we relate it back to ourselves, someone else goes through something difficult, yet we tell ourselves that it’s our fault and take that responsibility on.
Have a think of any times you've experienced these types of thinking. Awareness will help you be on the lookout for these unhelpful thoughts. Evaluating our thoughts can have a huge effect on how we respond to negative events. We’re not limited to a particular thinking style though. With hard work and practice, we can always work against our biases.
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