When the Bad Thing Happens

Posted by on Feb 14, 2012 in Bible, coaching, leadership, life, Relationships, success, Wisdom | 38 comments

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“We’ve decided that it’s time for you to move on. Our company is going in a different direction, without you.”

“Hello, this is the Police Department. It’s about your son.”

“It’s never easy explaining this to people, but it is malignant.”

These are conversations that no one ever wants to hear.  It would be naive to pretend though that we will walk through life without having one of them. What do you do though when these bad things happen, when these bombshells go off. As a follower of God, I fully believe that God uses these difficult experiences to bring about greater things. How do you do that?  How do those greater things happen?

  1. Tell the truth, to yourself and a few others who NEED to know.  Pretending like the problem at hand is ‘no biggie’ is a good way to make sure that the ‘bad thing’ becomes a ‘life ruining’ thing.  Telling the truth about it, first to yourself, is the beginning of making the bad thing a greater thing.  Telling the truth to ourselves means taking full responsibility for our part in the ‘bad news’, while fully acknowledging the things that were out of our control, like say the selfishness of others (again see life of Joseph in Genesis 37-50 as an example)
  2. No knee-jerks.  Another great way to jump from the frying pan into the fire is to make quick reckless decisions in immediate response to a new crisis.  Steven Sample, president of the University of Southern California and author of The Contrarians Guide to Leadership, describes in that book that his decision making process delays making decisions as long as possible.  Not out of procrastination, but due to the fact that every day that you can REASONABLY delay action, you’ve given yourself another day for new data about the situation to come in.  You must not use this as an excuse not to act, but as a reason to act wisely
  3. Make decisions based on wisdom and facts, not emotions. Gather some trusted friends and confidants around you. Process through the wreckage, and create a course of action. When we walk through a traumatic event, we don’t know what to do, or even who we really are. Those closest to us in seasons like this may be aware of our values and what is important even more than we do. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that coaches are great at helping you interpret data in the context of what really matters most to you.
  4. Do what is next. Recently I was visiting a church and the pastor closed the sermon with a great thought. It was the inspiration for this post. He was teaching about neglecting the things that keep you from following God. He said “When the bad thing happens, you have a new choice about what you’ll neglect…” When the ‘bombshell’ goes off in our lives, we have a new opportunity to connect with genuine greatness in our lives. We have a chance to re-direct history and become something, make that someone new.  Truthful, reasoned, wise responses insure that the bad thing becomes the greater thing.

Big Question:  What is the ‘bad thing’ you’ve endured recently?  Where are you in moving forward from it?

The mission of Matthew Reed Coaching is “To make the world a more effective and God honoring place, through coaching.” I love to help people genuinely experience the life they have always wanted.


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  • http://deep3rintel.com Tony

    “We’ve decided that it’s time for you to move on. Our company is going in a different direction, without you.” I have heard this before. The initial shock of it can really do you in. All kinds of emotions go through your head, and it can cloud sound judgment. I think these tips can help people with the issue when bad things happen.

    • Matt

      Lots of personal experience in this blog post. The ‘it’s time for you to move on’ conversation led me to exactly what God wants me to be doing though, coaching!

  • http://www.kimgarst.com Kim Garst

    Boy, these are great tips, Matt! We recently had a family situation where we would have been well served to have handled the situation with these tips!

    • Matt

      Thanks Kim. No one wants to walk through the hardest things…but they are inevitable.

  • http://www.swallowtailconsulting.com Lorrie

    Being an American woman, I often wonder what it is like raising children in area torn by war and inescapable poverty…or what it is like to never be able to move about the world independently, or to study. Being grateful for the richness of options in my life is probably the one most valuable spiritual practice I have. The bombs that go off in my life have never been literal, and for that I am most humbled by gratitude.

    • Matt

      One of the things in life that has added a LOT of perspective is travel on missions trips. Serving those in need in another part of the world provides so much depth and keeps flawed priorities from emerging. It certainly revs up gratitude as well

  • http://www.sherievenner.com Sherie

    Matt, we all have times when bad things happen and yes, it is unrealistic to expect that they never will. That is part of living. Your writing has really touched my heart. These are very important tips and I thank you so much for sharing. My favorite tip that you shared was making decisions based on facts, not emotions! So important…

    • Matt

      Emotions are real, no doubt about it, but we have to lead them and not the other way around!
      Thanks for the encouragement!

  • http://www.thecommoncents.com/blog/ Joyce

    great tips for any bad situation – turns it into an event to process instead of a stage of life. again, great tips. Thanks.

  • http://tipsaboutcats.com/ Claude West

    Matthew I could not agree more that we humans react illogically to events of “bad news”. We first scramble looking for some one or thing to blame for the cause. Being true to our self and facing the reality of bad events (both in and out of our control) is a great first step.

  • http://acruisintravel.com Joyce Martin

    Even Jesus demonstrated this delaying of reaction, when he was given the news that his good friend Lazareth was sick and dying. He waited three days before going because he knew (through the Holy Spirit) that his Father would meet the need of his friend. Thus he remained where he was till he was told to move on. He did not stress himself over the fact of his ill/dying friend. Matthew this is well written. Kudos!

  • http://www.MissingSecretToParenting.com denny hagel

    “Make decisions based on wisdom and facts, not emotions.” This is by far many get tripped up! Great article! Thanks!

  • http://www.socialmediajen.com Jennifer Bennett

    Great tips! It can be so easy to believe that our situations are not a big deal, thus ignoring what it taking place but really, we need to confide in those that we trust, telling them the truth and ourselves the truth. What a difference that one step can make! Thanks for sharing these wonderful tips!

  • http://sharonoday.com Sharon O’Day

    Matt, I look back over the decades and see the string of heavy hands I was dealt, some of them at a very young age. (I know no one is immune to them!) I didn’t always have the support structure you suggest, but I did learn early on to be gentle with myself and give myself time. Now, if I look at who I am today, I can see what I learned as I traversed each challenge without shutting down. In hindsight, while I wouldn’t have volunteered to experience them, I realize how much I benefited from them.

    • Matt

      What a depth of wisdom in your comment. I didn’t want any of the hard things that I have walked through to have happened, but I know that the process of walking through them has made me better at life!

  • http://NormaDoiron.NET/ Norma Doiron @Living Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

    We no longer require your services… yeah. Heard that before. But know what? When I look back, it was always a blessing in disguise, bringing me to the next step in my career. Sometimes we stay where we should go because it is familiar & comfortable and we need to be “kicked” out! (-_-) Thanks for sharing your insights. x0x
    The LEARNED Preneur @ NormaDoiron.NET ˚ .ღ 。

  • http://www.lindajojenkins.com Linda Jo Jenkins

    Great tips on handling the situations when bad things happen. The bible tells us we will experience these things not if but when. Being in God’s army we will experience the trials of war and we might not win. We should have the willingness, thoughts, actions and words of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego “The God we serve is able to deliver us, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:18

  • http://www.patriciaogilvie.com/ Patricia Ogilvie

    Excellent advice – I love the part about moving on… too few hold on to the pain and frustrations… that’s the energy that needs to be released! thanks and great job!

    • Matt

      I think moving forward is the most challenging part. It determines how long the ‘bad thing’ continues to press into us.

  • http://www.betterbusinessgrowthfaster.com AJ Perisho

    Nice post!
    I agree, these obstacles can give us a chance to grow.
    They are not fun, but we do grow.
    Thanks for sharing :-)

  • http://micheletremblay.com Michele

    Giving yourself time…what good advice. Living through a number of these unfortunate circumstances, using time to get clarity and make good decisions is great advice. It is not always so easy to do.

  • Stacy

    Wonderful advise! You are a thinker. I had to bookmark this one!

    • Matt

      Thanks Stacy! I appreciate your encouragement

  • http://www.pristineperception.com Suzanne Jones

    Matt as usual another great article. I used to be a reactor and I was always emotional. Bad mix. I agree we should talk to others who do not have an attachment as we do however I would advise being very careful who we take this kind of advice from. This is where we really have to trust ourselves with knowing just the right people to look to.

  • http://howtobeasuccessfulteacher.com/ Lori

    Great information! I particularly like your advice to make decisions based on wisdom and facts, not emotions.

  • http://www.mikemcdonaldfitness.com Michael McDonald

    Thanks Matt. I’ve had these situations arise and my choices in the past haven’t always been the most positive or productive. Through my higher power today I am better able to react in a more positive way and use the tips you’ve laid out. The one I heard was my doctor giving me my diagnosis and it can definitely be a life changing experience either way depending on our reactions.

    • Matt

      Thanks Mike for sharing about some of your struggles. Taking responsibility for who we are and what we do is how we turn it around!

  • http://www.theacornstash.com/how-well-do-you-know-yourself-six-tips-for-building-self-awareness Helena

    Great tips Matt. I’m a firm believer that there’s a lesson in everything and that when one door closes it’s because it’s time for another one to open. It’s not easy to deal with bad stuff, but there’s always a shred of good in there somewhere.

  • http://ronaejull.com Ronae Jull

    Thank you for a great article! Having gone through more than a few “worst things” recently, I especially appreciated your tips; each has served me well!

  • Vicky Savellis-Grant

    Great advice – especially tell the truth to yourself… Thanks for sharing Matt.

  • Carol Giambri

    Growing through these situations help us mature ever greater. Thanks for great tips.

  • http://marieleslie.com Marie Leslie

    Some important principles to remember any time we face challenges in our lives. Following these steps will definitely keep those “moments” from turning into something much bigger and help us to move through them in a way that will strengthen us rather than tear us apart.

  • http://www.theonlinepublicspeakingacademy.com Tina Sibley

    Great Tips Matt – most of us dread these kinds of conversations but, in truth, we’re all stronger than we think. I like the saying that ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’.

  • http://cookthisgetlaid.com Mona

    What a GREAT and eye opening opener! Nicely done Matthew, you’re an excellent writer.

  • http://www.positivecalm.com Solvita

    So true, when we make our decisions based on emotions only…it will never lead us to a good solution. I liked all of your tips! Great work! Thank you!

  • http://SusanCanHelpMe.com Susan Preston

    Great article, Matthew! When I have challenges with adversity, I always try to give gratitude from that experience. While I am trying to work through the situation, I ask God for his guidance and help, it always seems to work out in the best possible way for that particular challenge. Thank you :)

  • http://www.JenniferHerndon.com Jennifer

    Great tips for handling the inevitable “bad” Matt, thanks. Fortunately, I haven’t had anything bad happen for awhile, but I always try to look for the lesson, and to learn and grow from it. Usually I find that most bad experiences can lead to good things – eventually.

  • http://HelloScent.com Designer Rob Russo

    Bad things happen to us all. It’s a fact of life. But I agree, God uses them to make us stronger or draw us closer to Him.

    Thanks for sharing your 4 points…

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