3 Steps to Handle a “Bad” Situation or Experience


Life and business can be a roller coaster of “ups & downs,” “highs and lows,” and what we label “good” and “bad.”

Although I work on teaching my clients how to stop labeling things “good” and “bad”–therefore minimizing the suffering they create for themselves by doing so–this post is about how to better handle things you are currently labeling bad vs. being self-actualized enough to eliminate the perception of something as “bad” in the first place. 

There are 3 questions to ask yourself that will help you gain a different perspective on the situation and shift your response to it (lessening the negative emotion and improving the decisions you make about what actions you take to respond to it), thereby better assuring a positive outcome. 

It’s not the circumstance that makes the man; it reveals him to himself.”
— James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

3 questions to ask yourself to shift your response to a “bad” situation

1. What is “bad” about this situation/event? 

What exactly makes it “bad” in your eyes? How are you seeing the circumstances of the event? What sort of pain are you creating in the moment (physical, emotional)? What future “consequences” are you anticipating that you want to avoid? Get really clear about what you are thinking and imagining.

“There is no good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” — Shakespeare, Hamlet

2. What could be worse about this? (“At least…) Gain perspective over the situation. Look at it from different angles/viewpoints. How might it not be as bad as an alternative situation or in comparison to others in a similar situation? Play the “at least” game–xxx happened, but at least…(something worse didn’t/what is still salvageable or okay). E.g., you get a flat on the side of the road–but at least I have a spare and know how to change it; it’s not raining; it could be a dark, deserted road; I could be without a cell phone to call for help; I didn’t spin out and get into an accident when it blew; etc.)There are two ways to change a situation–change the situation or change
yourself to meet it. 
One you have total control over; the other you may not.

3. What could be “good” about this? 

Look at it from the other end of the spectrum. How can this lead to something better? What opportunity can you create from it? How can you turn this into an advantage? What lesson does it hold to help you to do better in the future? What skill/ability/character trait can you gain from it to grow yourself as a person? What new “meaning” or interpretation or spin can you put on it to feel more positive or hopeful about it? 

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal
or greater benefit.”
— Napolean Hill, Think & Grow Rich

Allowing yourself to get really clear about the situation, seeing the “facts” not the “stories” or interpretations, looking at it from different perspectives, comparing it to a larger view of the world or others’ challenges to diminish its grand appearance of ultimate disaster, and distancing yourself from the initial & defensive emotional reaction to the situation will help to gain a new perspective and see things through a “softer” filter. This will allow you to slow down your impulsive reactionary response, and assess the situation to make choices about your response and be likely to create a better outcome in the end.

It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you choose to DO with what happens that makes all the
difference in which path you take from that point forward and the future you create.