Well, part of me says “that sounds easier than it is to pull off.” I think for some folks, they can actually turn a bad situation into a positive with the click of the switch. And for others, not so much. I’m in the “not so much” group.
Those of us who come from traumatic childhood homes react distinctly different than those who came from healthier, supportive homes. Trauma rewires the brain. If you have that in your background, I encourage you to seek out therapy. Well worth the effort.
It is said that the brain is like Velcro to negativity and Teflon for the positive. That said, we have the power to change this sticky arrangement. We have to learn some things and practice them and voila, our life changes. This is why you are reading my work; you want to see how I did it.
Here we go.
What is on the list of things that can go “bad” or be considered “negative”. I want you to notice that I am depersonalizing this topic by putting it on the list. It is not in any way to diminish the problem or it’s effects. I want to hold compassion. At the same time, we can wallow in the darker, lower level, non-life-giving energies. So, let’s make at least a partial list.
1. Getting stuck in traffic
3. Project gets delayed or canceled
4. Bad day, “everything is going wrong”
7. Loss of Job
8. Family issues
When negative experiences happen, a lot of feelings start showing up. We might feel confused, overwhelm, frustrated or angry. Some folks hop from these too things like rage, or depression. Feeling overwhelmed, with spinning the wheels an going nowhere is common. When I’m in what I think is a bad situation, I do that confusion, overwhelm and spinning the wheels tactic. Doesn’t work all that well.
Feelings are meant to be a barometer to alert you of what is going on. We are better served to keep feelings in that realm rather than being overpowered by them. In resilience practices, it is about being able to have a coherent and happy life, even in the midst of a negative situation.
Why are we set up this way? What did we learn as a child? How did our parents and caregivers behave in a stressful situation? They were our teachers, and we are good students. If you come from an abusive family, the brain is wired to expect the worst. It was a survival mechanism back then. Now as an adult, a confrontation means a fight, flight or freezing. It’s really hard to have loving relationships when your brain goes into its “survivor program”.
When we fall into the survival program, our defenses get fortified, hormones of cortisol, adrenalin start flooding our system. Frankly, you will get an adrenalin high, which feels good and is addictive. Do it often enough, you will go into adrenal fatigue.
What are some strategies to survive and thrive a negative situation? I’m glad you asked.
First, stop and do some deep breathing. Take a deep breath in and exhale. It is good to do a 3-4 second inhale and 3-4 second exhale. Repeat. Ten times is good. That is about 80-90 seconds or a minute and a half. It can begin to restore your balance. If you practice this technique, over time you will feel the benefits and choose to do it.
When things are going wrong, you can feel out of control. Not that we have all that much control in life. But we do have control about our reactions. When you are feeling so out of control, it feel like you have no boundaries and become ungrounded. One thing you can do is to give yourself a hug. As you are hugging, run your hands down your arms. The body is a wonderful container so connect with it. Another thing could be to tap your body (arms, torso, legs) to help really define the boundary of the body. This will also help you to ground.
Once you feel a little more control of you, start a gratitude list. It is as simple as feeling your feet or going for a short walk. Be thankful for the walk. Be present to what is around you. Could be the sound of birds or smell or a sounds/sights. The situation could be worse. The more gratitude you can muster, the easier it will be to get through the situation. As you practice gratitude, you will notice the presence of calm. You will also notice that calmness will come even in a bad situation if you practice “gratitude” regularly.
There is a practice of waiting. Carolyn Myss, on one of her programs, said something to the effect of “when you get stopped in traffic, it may be the angels holding you back. You are traveling too fast and will miss a connection you are divinely scheduled to meet.” I try to remember this. I need to be at a certain place in my life for something to happen. That allows all the other parts to come together. I may not be there yet. If I can muster some patience and enjoy the wait, I will be much happier.
Interestingly, I have had patients tell me “if this _____ didn’t happen, then I wouldn’t have gotten _____.” This includes cancer patients. They consistently tell me that they are better off for having gone through something very tough. I have found this to be true in my life. Over time, your thinking becomes reordered in a wiser, healthier way.
Then it is easier to flip the switch from negative to positive.
If you like my writing, consider working with me. Or just enjoy the message. Be well. Be wise within.