Whether its losing a job, a loved one, a disagreement or a promotion, how you deal with the loss is what really matters. Some people appear better equipped to deal with disappointments, moments of crisis and negative events. And if you are like me, you undoubtedly know some people whom bad news tends to immobilize for long periods of time.
If we look at minor setbacks first, such as waking up feeling tired and aching all over but not really ill, some people will get up and shower, go through the routine of getting ready for work and gather their strength on the way to work. On the other hand, some will do what’s easier at that moment of waking and call in sick and go back to bed. In neither situation is the person really ill, but the two reactions to the same situation are different. Over a period of time, whichever decision you make of the two tends to perpetuate and repeat itself; so you generally push yourself through mornings like these or you develop a pattern of satisfying the immediate urge to stay home or go in late.
Any pattern of behaviour when noted by others becomes your reputation. “Jim’s off work again today everybody”, or “I appreciate you coming in even though you’re not at your best just now.” I can tell you that there are some mornings I wake up feeling groggy, and it’s dark outside, and the bed I’m leaving is warm and part of me wants to go back to sleep. But I know that if I get up, have a cup of tea, shower and get dressed, I’m well on my way to arriving at work with energy and enthusiasm.
But let’s say your confronted with news of a more serious nature. Suppose you’ve just been told that the job you were hoping to get has been offered and accepted by someone else and your still out of work. The relief employment would have brought you is gone, and you’re under immense financial pressure to pay your bills. The strain on your mind and your self-confidence is tremendous and you’ve got to somehow find the motivation to keep looking for work when a growing part of you wants to just pack it all in. Give up or get on with it?
There’s an old saying that goes, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” That saying means that if you can struggle through adversity and problems, you’ll be better of character and have developed survivor skills in the process, making you ultimately better prepared to deal with future adversity in the end. Seems awfully appropriate in this discussion.
We’ve all experienced situations where we see two people faced with similar situations and they handle it very differently. I personally think the reason that some handle these events differently is because of how they’ve dealt with many situations in the past; and those past situations have built upon one another, in essence preparing the person to deal with the situation a certain way. From the outside, you and I might get pretty accurate predicting how a person will react to ill news based on how we’ve seen them deal with adversity in the past, even when that adversity was for minor events. Therefore, we can say how someone reacts to bad news is in or out of character.
So you won’t be the first or last person to lose a loved one, get fired, be overlooked for a promotion, have a car accident, miss a deadline or some other negative event. What is of greater significance therefore is not the event itself but how we react to the news.
Okay so take the loss of a loved one. If you are old enough to read this blog, you’ve survived childhood. People around you are going to pass away sooner or later. You’ll be confronted with such news every so often over your lifetime, and yet the world will keep turning, the sun will keep rising, and things will still need to get done. How you get through those minutes, hours, days and weeks will be unique to you, but you’re not the only one impacted. You’ll be counted on by employers to get back to work, by family members for support, possibly by your children for guidance and ‘how’ to deal with such events.
While an employer may look at a manual and say, “Your entitled to 3 days off with pay”, the human psyche doesn’t operate the same for everyone where we, ‘get over it’, or ‘deal with it’, in the same way. Some people I know who are out of work tell me they aren’t ready to look for work because they are still dealing with the loss of a parent; and the parent passed away more than a year ago. So is that a genuine impairment or as some see it a convenient excuse for not looking? Does it depend on your own inner strength, past experiences or how you’d deal with such news?
For your own mental and physical health and well-being, find ways to work through your lows. All of us experience highs and lows, good and bad; it’s HOW we deal with events that’s important. Unable to cope? Seek out counselling and share your issues with others that can help you through.
Reaching out shows others your wisdom, not your weakness.