When things go bad…you have a choice

John Wooden on when things go bad: “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

What do you do when things go bad? I mean life’s a bitch sometimes. Right? Think back to when something negative happened over which you had no control. And it seemed as if things were slipping away. You had choices. That's where self-responsibility comes in. You can make matters worse or better according to how you handle your thinking and your emotions.

So, what about now? What will you do if anything terrible happens today?

There are four alternatives. To begin, you may start feeling sorry for yourself while doing nothing to address the problem. That is something that some individuals do. Others, on the other hand, complain about their position while doing nothing. O thers participate in the blame game. They find a way to blame others for their difficulties, they stomp their feet, and, sadly, do nothing to improve their situation. Finally, some people make the most of their situation. It is not acceptable to them, so they become determined to take action in order to better their situation.

That is what John Wooden was talking about in the above quote, and this article is about that fourth possibility. The possibility of taking initiative to turn a situation from bad to good.

As for me, I remember when I was told I had Crohns Disease. I remember the doctor saying how sorry he was to have to tell me I had Crohns and that there was no cure for it. This was back in 1981 right after I'd had a resection of my small intestine (they took out 1 1/2 feet).

I realized, before long, that stress made my Crohns symptoms worse. I knew I had to do something. I learned two techniques that made all the difference in the world. The first technique was to relax all the muscles in my body one muscle group at a time. It took practice, but I got really good at it. And when your body is relaxed, you will experience less stress.

The second technique was to learn how to calm my body through visualization. I had a great time visiting an island off the coast of Georgia. I'd been there many times before.

So, whenever I felt stressed, the first thing I knew I needed to do was relax my body.  I'd imagine myself sitting on a pier watching people fish. I would picture a lovely day with ideal weather every time. Using visualization I would attain complete bodily relaxation.

Those two techniques really worked well for me to reduce my stress level when things go bad. You might want to work on those techniques yourself.

What To Do When Things Go Bad

The first thing to do, and the base upon which everything else depends, is to face reality. You can’t fix something you aren’t looking squarely in the face. It is only by analyzing where you are that you have a chance to fix it. When things go bad, start there, don't go into denial. See the obstacle as it is.

Then, ask yourself, "What if I succeed? What if I find a way to fix this?" Answer those two questions and you will find yourself with more energy. Your answer to those two questions will leave you more optimistic. There's hope. That will help you develop the mental toughness you will need.

Make no mistake about it, whatever it takes to fix the situation is not going to be easy. And you will have to go outside your comfort zone. It is at this time, you must take initiative to get things going in the right direction. After all, what is the alternative? To stay in a bad place? No! This situation is binary. It is one or the other. Choose wisely.

OK, now what? You have to start looking for possibilities and thinking through them. Is there something obvious you can do? Has something like this happened in the past? What did you learn from that? Where can you get the information you need to get to a better place? Is it in a book? An Internet article? A YouTube video? Is there someone you can go to for help? And finally, do you need to be creative? (Note: I’ll be creating a new section in this website for creativity.)

Judge what you think will work and take action. Maybe you have figured things out correctly and you will soon be in a better place. You will never know until you try. And if it doesn’t work, what then? Because this is important, failure is not an option. That being the case, you try something else, only this time you have learned something that doesn’t work. You have improved your odds for the next try.  Repeat, try again.

I know all of this seems very obvious and you might be wondering why I would talk about something so obvious. Consider this: How many people do you know who complain and complain and complain? How many people do you know who are depressed about their life? And in neither case are they doing anything about their situation. They aren’t even making a choice. When things go bad, they seem paralyzed.

Yes, it is true that what I’ve written is obvious and makes sense, but that being the case, why doesn’t everyone do it? Simple answer: Because it is easier to talk about a situation than to actually doing something about it. The person has to think and search for an answer. And they're never sure the answer they have found will work. It also requires the individual to go outside their comfort zone and most people don’t like doing that, even when it causes them discomfort at times.

So, this article is a reminder of what you know you should do. And, the good news is you can practice the steps. When there is something you don’t want to do…do it anyway. It builds muscle. You develop additional mental toughness. And then, when things go bad, let the moment it happens be like a light switch going off in your mind. You know the steps you need to take and so you begin.

When things go bad, you will learn a lot about life, and more importantly, about yourself. Leaning from your past changes you in ways that can help you handle your future. The purpose of life is to live as good a life as you can and to reach as much potential as possible. It takes effort and consistency.

You might like these

Go to the top of this page about What To Do When Things Go Bad.

Go to Article Index.