How to Take Bad News

It’s not a matter of if, but when. At one point or another, we all get faced with bad news. But it doesn’t have to break us. In fact, despite how it may initially feel, how bad news impacts us is completely within our control. And this simple truth can be a very good thing!

Here are 6 simple ways to take bad news, so that it doesn’t take you down, too:

Resist the urge to react immediately. Instead, opt for patience and pause.
Our reactions don’t just affect others. They affect us, too. A knee-jerk reaction could very well set the stage for even greater emotional stress later. In other words, don’t do something in the moment that you might regret later. Instead, give yourself the opportunity and time needed to carefully think things over before you respond.

Accept that you can’t control everything. Sure, it’s not great. But it’s the truth and the sooner we accept it, the better. When we finally let go of what we cannot—or should not—control, the sooner—and better able—we are to control and affect what we can.

Go ahead and vent. Whether it’s on paper or to a trusted friend, find a safe place and way to explore your reaction to the news. So, don’t fight it. Feel it, so you can heal from it. Just ensure that you’re doing so in a safe, supportive environment before you do.

Unpack the news completely. Bad news has a way of knocking the wind out of us, and then masquerading as something it’s not. Don’t let it. Strip it down and carefully think about each piece separately. Things could very well not be as bad as they initially seem. And even if they are, there are likely hidden opportunities, too. Have you taken the time to adequately unwrap the present to find the gifts that could await?

Keep it in the proper perspective. Will this really matter tomorrow, next week or next year? Make an effort to accurately gauge the situation. Then, only allow it to demand your attention and energy accordingly. Simply put, protect yourself by refusing to treat molehills as if they were mountains. Refuse to be fooled.

Consider what you (really) can affect and at what cost. Take inventory of what—and to what degree—you can affect a situation. Then, consider the cost. Is it worth the energy, time and effort? What will the ultimate costs be? Write it down if it helps. Consider all your options and be honest about your current resources—emotional, mental, physical and financial—before you take any kind of action.

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