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Keep bad news bears at bay with positivity

Keys to staying upbeat

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It seems the "bad news bears" have struck again and more workers have lost their jobs. Frankly, whether it is downsizing, right sizing or whatever you want to call it, "bad news" is simply bad news. And bad news isn't always about a layoff situation: bad news can result from the news that a close colleague has become ill or decided to retire. You can also experience bad news when you are told your performance is not up to par. Or bad news may be when you learn about a work transfer to another location or the fact you may be getting a new boss whom you already know and don't care for.

However, bad news in your personal and work life will continue to come in all shapes and sizes and at any time. Yet, you can't allow a cloud of negativity to develop and take over your life. Therefore, the challenge is to remain positive, but as everyone knows, this in itself takes a lot of work. Not only that, what steps can you take to ensure positive thinking?

First of all you have to realize that moving from negative to positive thinking and then staying positive means managing your attitude and your mood. Once it's accepted that you are indeed in control of how you interpret and "see" things, then you can begin to take the steps to overcome any bad news that comes your way.

So, let's look at some of the steps you can take to erase any negativity and sustain a positive outlook on life.

Review the situation -- review the bad-news scenario and see if you can address the root problem. For instance, news that your boss is retiring will create fear and insecurity with respect to working with a new leader. Your task is to assess your fear while at the same time thinking about the positives that will arise from this news.

Ask what's the worst that can happen -- people have a tendency to think in terms of extremes and to blow things out of proportion thus creating fear for themselves. Ask yourself the question: "What's the worst that can happen?" and you may recognize you are worrying unnecessarily. Instead, identify and focus on what is going well in your life.

Identify the potential for a silver lining -- sometimes when bad things happen, good things can evolve. Examine your situation and determine what potential positive possibilities could emerge. For instance, a new boss might mean new job opportunities for you. Whatever you do, avoid adopting a victim mentality.

Write down your thoughts -- keep a notebook at your side and jot down how you are thinking. Then, read it back to yourself. Recognize any negative thoughts and determine your frame of mind. Talk to someone about your situation: asking their opinion may help to see things from a different perspective.

Challenge your interpretation -- learn and practice how to reframe whatever bad-news scenario has come your way. If the situation is a new boss, instead of negative thinking such as "I won't work well with this new leader," think instead, "I will need a bit of time to learn the nuances of this new leader." This puts neutral to positive thoughts in your mind versus negative thoughts.

Create a balance -- stop for a moment and make a "gratitude list" by focusing on the good things that surround your life. This helps you to create more balanced thinking that in turn will enable you to deal with your bad-news situation more effectively.

Ask for help -- if your bad-news situation is creating a crisis and you can't deal with it yourself, reach out and ask for help. On the other hand, if someone isn't immediately available, ask what you would do if you were the one giving advice. This tactic often helps to calm you down so that you can act rationally and not be overtaken by negativity.

Put the situation into perspective -- many people take the bad news personally and then get bogged down in the details rather than looking at the big picture. Take time to review the situation in relation to all the other things going on in your life. Is it really that important? Does it really matter?

Read, read, read -- reading a novel will take your mind off your current situation. Choose something very different from what you might typically read. On the other hand, read an inspirational article and/or a book. All of these efforts will help to steer you toward positive thinking.

Visualize success -- Whatever the situation, it's really only a blip in your overall life cycle. Focus on your future, where do you want to be? What do you want to be doing? How do you get there? Keep in mind that old saying: "What you see is what you get."

There is no getting around it, the "bad news bears" will continue to poke their noses into your life every once in a while and cause a disruption that needs to be dealt with. However, your real goal should be to acquire and sustain a positive attitude toward life at all times.

A positive attitude attracts people to you and helps to build that strong network of support you can call on in times of need. A positive attitude enables you do deal constructively and effectively with life's situations, to be in control and to create your own happiness and success. A positive attitude creates optimism, motivation and energy to set and accomplish your goals.

On the other hand, moving yourself out of a negative attitude takes work. First it requires personal recognition and awareness and secondly, it requires that you to take concrete and conscious steps to overcome your negative thoughts. But remember, your thoughts become words and words become actions which in turn become habits. These habits become your character and your future.


Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC, CCP. M.Ed. is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She can be reached at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 13, 2014 H1

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