Last night, in the middle of the night, I got one of those phone calls you never want to get. Nobody was killed, and no one has a terminal illness, but there is a serious relationship issue that is hurting my 3 kids. As far as the involved parties are concerned, I cannot set them straight, I cannot give them a piece of my mind, I cannot show them how they are co-creating madness. It feels rotten, as I’m sure you know. It’s a situation where there seems no positive spin or helpful perspective. I know you know what I mean.
Feeling outrage is helpful, perhaps, for a little while The only useful conclusion I can draw at this point is….how can I contribute to making some tiny change to make this world a better place? How can I help a few people process pain in a way that limits a bit the potential for damage?
Hubris aside, here are some ideas for damage control when you get bad news:
1. As far as possible, forget about getting things done for right now. For heaven’s sake don’t make any decisions.
2. Feel the awfulness. Pretending that it doesn’t hurt is what makes people overeat, drink, and partake in other sorts of crazy behaviors. Just sit down and take some time to wallow in it.
3. Acknowledge whatever goodness you can. It could have been worse. You still love the parties involved. Wounds do heal. Pain and disappointment seem to be part of life.
4. Sigh deeply. Getting more oxygen into your body really does help.
5. Be exceedingly careful about discussing the situation. Choose your confidantes carefully as the more people get involved, the greater the potential for collateral damage.
6. Let it go. I once read somewhere, “When God takes something away from you, just let it go.” Recall the prayer where you ask for the wisdom to know the difference between what you must change and what you cannot change.
7. Love them anyway. At the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote, “People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered. Love them anyway.”
Got anything to add to this list? Please share your wisdom by commenting below.