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Coping With Bad News


Sad people

There are times (when things are not going so well) when it would be quite useful to have a ‘Groundhog Day’ movie option. In other words, a re-set button that allows you to keep repeating the day over again, making little changes until eventually things come right. This is especially true when you, or someone you are close to receives bad news. As it happens, our family is dealing with this now and I think many others will be too. Very often, I write about the energetic effect of things. However, I have always been very grounded, blending knowledge from mainstream healthcare (as a Registered Nurse), teaching and assessing, Clinical Hypnotherapist and seeing energy, The result of this is a very practical approach to problems. Which brings me to the point of this blog. It just so happens that I have met several people recently who have been dealing with cancer. This is always a shock to the system and affects people differently.

Very often, a first response is numbness followed by sadness. In the case of the people I am talking about here, this was then replaced by putting on a brave face. In our times, we are flooded with media that tells us to say only positive things. Now, very often, this is a useful coping strategy but not so in this case. Here, it is actually much more useful to acknowledge how you really feel.


If you are angry, say so.

If you are frightened, say so.

If you feel like it’s the end of the world, say so.


Expressing that emotion out loud helps the situation in several different ways. Speaking the emotion means that the brain hears it in your voice. This actually helps the brain to assimilate information. It also allows the mind to find an expression for the emotion and helps acknowledge the need to be heard, primarily by yourself. Speaking about it also releases unhelpful energy created by the situation. Some days will be better than others. There is a very well known expression that says ‘if someone gives you a lemon, make lemonade’. There are times you will actually be able to do that. On other days, you will find that making lemonade is really not top of the list of things to do. Either of these things are ok.


Once you have time to get over the initial shock, then it is useful to get practical and work on a coping strategy. Here, notice what you are doing. Very often, acknowledging feelings is enough to help deal with the situation. However, sometimes, the worry of a situation is overwhelming and a downward spiral of ‘what ifs’ is created - what if it all goes wrong?, what if they don’t do well?, what if it’s worse than we think? Here too, acknowledge what is happening and use reframing to help. Cognitive reframing is a technique used to shift your thinking so you're able to look at a situation from a slightly different perspective. This is not to deny or devalue what you are thinking, the aim is to develop healthy self talk. So rather than saying ‘what if it all goes wrong’, if you are to reframe this, it would be ‘I am worried that this may all go wrong. However, I recognise this is how I am feeling right now. I can safely acknowledge this, whilst working on what is helpful and needed in this situation’. This seems like a small change but it does make a difference.


While there is much that you can do to help yourself, on occasion, you may need some outside help from a professional. If so, do it. There is a lot of help available and talking to others can be really useful, if and when you are ready. On a final note, you never know what life will bring your way, but many small miracles happen every day, so allow yourself to remember that anything is possible.

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