Negative experiences happen to us all. Learning how to deal appropriately with negative experiences is an invaluable skill. Our natural instincts can often get us into trouble. We overreact, say things we regret, fall into depression, and lose our confidence. Negative things are going to happen. It only makes sense to become better at managing them.
Deal with negative experiences appropriately:
1. What can you learn from the experience? Whether the love of your life left you, or you lost $50,000 in the stock market, you can learn something from the experience. Make a list of the lessons you’ve learned. Consider how you can prevent a repeat performance.
2. List the advantages of the negative experience. Maybe you can now ask out the cute barista or spend more time on your hobbies. Even the worst experiences have a few advantages.
3. Remember that trial and error is the key to all success. Life isn’t easy. If great relationships, money, and a spectacular body were easy to acquire, we’d all have them.
4. Take moment. Before you speak, jump off a bridge, or sell all your worldly possessions, take a moment. There’s no rule that states you must react immediately. Maybe you don’t need to react at all. A couple of deep breaths can avoid making the situation worse.
5. Accept that sometimes, bad things happen. Even with the best of intentions and preparation, things can go wrong. People become sick or injured. The wind drops a tree on the garage. You step on the VPs foot and ruin his new shoes. It’s part of life. Learn to move forward from these unfortunate events as best as you can.
6. Change your beliefs about the negative experience. Was it a negative experience, or is it an opportunity for something better to come into your life? Is it a failure or a learning opportunity? Perhaps it doesn’t have any meaning at all.
7. Distort the experience. Change the memory in your head. If you can’t get over the memory of your girlfriend dumping you, change the memory. Imagine her wearing a clown costume, and her words are in those balloons you see in comic books. Her hair is orange, and she sounds like Daffy Duck. Now run through the conversation. It doesn’t feel the same.
8. Distract yourself. Sometimes the best medicine is a healthy distraction. Go see a movie with a friend. Visit a family member. Spend time on a hobby or take a short trip out of town. If you can’t repair the situation and you can’t forget it, find something else to do.
9. Be accepting. Just accept the experience and let it go. Our negative feelings come from the need to change things or for situations to be a certain way. If you can accept the situation, you’re free of it. This is easier said than done, but everything gets easier with practice.
10. Get another perspective. It’s easy to take things personally. Imagine how you would advise a friend or your child, if they faced the same experience. Reach out to a friend for advice. You might be taking things a little too seriously.
11. Let it out. If you need to cry, yell, or pout, let it out. Give yourself an appropriate amount of time to acknowledge how you feel, and then get back to living your life.
Negative outcomes are a part of life. In many cases, it’s possible to turn a negative experience into something positive. The ability to bounce back from challenging times is pivotal to your happiness and success. Use every strategy at your disposal to move on.