Don’t shoot the messenger

I’m sure we have all experienced some bad news being delivered to us and immediately an emotional reaction takes place and we lash out: “How can this be?!”, “This can’t be right!”, “What the h*ll are you saying?!”. We want to yell at the news deliverer, let her/him know the depths of our fury, disapproval och discontent. It is fine getting upset. If we get upset, we get upset. What I want to invite you to here though is: and what do you do next? How do you take care of your reaction? What do you choose to put out there in the world that will affect you and those around you? 

I am not talking about liking the bad news. Heck, I might not even be talking about accepting the bad news. Some bad news is wrong and needs to be questioned. Some news though is very matter-of-fact and simply the nature of things, like someone passing away. But the same questions apply, what do you do with that? 

Is it possible to be compassionate towards yourself by reacting the way you do? Is it possible to be compassionate towards the one delivering the news? Is it possible to be compassionate to the news itself? In a world with endless possibilities, endless “bad” pieces of news are possible too, after all. 

Today I got some bad news. I was told one thing some time ago and now it seems that that might not be true and as consequence, this can get very costly for me. Did I get upset? Sure did. I felt my heart sink to my stomach, weighed down by my anxiety. I felt anger surging, tensing all my muscles to be ready to attack. I noticed my mind starting to spin with possible scenarios of how to fix things, catastrophizing, and so on. 

Bad news is going to keep on hitting us. With practice, “reaction mode” has changed for me. I don’t jump there as frequently and I don’t stay there as long if I do get into reaction mode. Not saying I got all this down, there is always work to do, but there is a difference (age and experience probably also played a part – but isn’t that just part of practice after all?). I also neither feel the need of telling people my bad news to have them feel my misery nor hiding it from people because of shame that this happened to me. I know that we are all humans, and stuff happens to us – I am not alone. Did I screw up? Ok, I will do my best to take responsibility for that. Did I get wronged? Ok, I will do my best to get clarification and resolve things. 

The messenger (the person, the text, the events…) is showing us more possibilities: “This too is possible”, even if we don’t want to believe it. Challenges can be rough, but this is how we learn and grow. How will you take care of your growth? 

Originally posted on 24th of January 2023.

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