When Bad Stuff Strikes
There’s little we can say with absolute certainty other than: stuff happens.
Stuff happens to all of us. Sometimes good, often times not so good. Trying to only have good stuff is a sure way to be miserable as the bad stuff will surely come—it’s a fact of life. As author Andy Andrews says, “We’re either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or heading for a crisis.”
So if we can accept that a unique blend of good stuff and bad stuff is intrinsic to life, what can we do to “smooth out” the ride so that the bad stuff doesn’t consume our attention? Put simply, what should we do when bad stuff happens?
We have two options when bad stuff strikes: we can blame others and play the role of victim OR we can take responsibility for the bad stuff.
The benefit to playing the victim role, as most of us know, is that we don’t have to consciously feel shame or guilt. Blaming others and therefore absolving ourselves, we neatly tuck away all those nasty, painful feelings that could be directed at ourselves. A martyr of circumstance, the world may be against us, but at least the bad stuff isn’t our fault.
Now to our second option: we take responsibility for the bad stuff. Taking responsibility doesn’t mean we become self-loathing, hurting our self-esteem; it simply means that we take ownership of what happens to us—whether we’re aware of what we did or not.
Four Steps to Transcending the Bad Stuff
That’s Step 1: Accept responsibility for the bad stuff. Step 2: Address the negative emotions arising around the bad stuff. There are numerous ways to discharge negative emotions: meditation, breathing exercises, releasing, EFT, and so on. After getting in an argument with a friend, don’t waste time trying to analyze the argument when you’re simmering with anger or upset. As we’ve said before, negative emotions hinder our executive function: we can’t operate rationally and access intuition when we’re subsumed with negative emotions.
Once we’ve discharged the negative emotion (through acceptance or letting it go), we’re ready for Step 3: Examine the experience for life lessons. What did the experience teach us? How might we act, behave, or think differently if the situation presented itself again? (If you skipped Step 2, this line of questioning will be fruitless.)
And, finally, Step 4: Let it go. Move on. Good stuff, bad stuff: Allow it to all be as it is. Let go of trying to change it. This stance brings peace and equanimity. It facilitates growth and maturation. There’s no value in carrying the memory of bad stuff around with you like luggage. Travel light and liberate your life adventure.