Unexpected news can be positive or negative, depending upon its nature, and whether it’s the news we want.
Unexpected news arrives when we’re least ready, takes us by surprise, and asks us to accommodate to change we didn’t ask for and may not want.
In 50 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve found most people don’t like change. When change is needed, even when it’s wanted change, we avoid making it. That’s why we get “invited to make change” (through our experiences) over and over again. Every time that “invitation to change” is presented again, it’s accompanied by stronger levels of pain. Most people only make change when the pain they’re in is so great they decide it couldn’t be any worse than the pain of making the change.
“Unexpected news” usually means we need to make change. If the change we’re pressured to make as a result of our “news” is not the change we want to make, it can cause us pain and consternation. The pain results from our resistance to both the emotions we experience and to what the change unexpectedly demanded of us.
When unexpected news is positive, winning the lottery, getting the job we want, receiving unexpected gifts, or a performance prize at work, we easily allow our emotions expression. Whooping, smiling, shouting, dancing, or singing, we accept the unexpected news with free movement of the accompanying emotions.
But when we perceive the unexpected news as “negative,” as news we don’t want, we close down emotions. Sometimes we become angry and cry, yet we just as easily can become depressed, jealous, afraid, or feel victimized. We put the lid on these emotions, holding them inside, denying them as much movement as we can. The problem with this approach is that emotions are made to move. Holding them down and restricting their movement causes emotions to grow and causes us problems.
What if we allowed the emotions connected to unexpected “bad” or “negative” news just as much movement as the emotions that show up with unexpected “good” or “positive” news? Then the emotions don’t choke inside of us, growing in size or intensity. The news and emotions cause us less disturbance and trouble. (For more about emotions, see Emotions in Motion, www.emotionalmasteryforlife.com)
What do we need to do to allow emotions to be there, to move, then to move all the way through us?
Take time to hear and feel the news, to accommodate to it
Our first reaction is disbelief. We can’t believe someone we love is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, was in an accident, has declared bankruptcy, or is permanently leaving the area. Allow time to accommodate to the unexpected news. To feel stunned, to refuse to believe what we’ve heard, and to allow the feeling to return to our body or brain before we go further.
Make time to feel the loss
Often, “unexpected news” involves loss. Someone has died, something is lost or destroyed, a tiny virus requires us to stay home and “distance” for months. We’ve been transferred (or promoted!) at work, and we don’t really want the change. We’re suddenly thrust into the limelight, stand out from our peers. Even though some of these are seen as “positive,” if they require us to make changes in ways we don’t want to change, we’re going to experience the loss and react negatively.
Make room to mourn what you’ve lost
Mourning is part of the process of change and can follow receipt of unexpected news. Grief and mourning require we make changes in how we live our lives every day. We resist those changes. We don’t like change, don’t want someone or something to be missing from our every day, or are upset because we didn’t get a choice. It’s okay to resist. Once the space inside us has been opened up by the unexpected news and the reality of our new situation, our whole system will adjust.
Life is easier if we acknowledge that adjustments need to be made because of our “unexpected news” and embrace them.
The least stressful way through is to accept our unexpected news, allow ourselves to feel and accommodate to it, and embrace the changes required. Where do we go next?
Pay attention, not to what you want to overcome, but to what you want to BECOME. Wherever we focus attention we feed energy. What we focus our energy and attention on grows. As we start moving forward after digesting and accommodating to our unexpected news, we need to focus our attention on new ways of being and living.
Most people focus on what they want to overcome. The depression I feel, the anger I have about feeling betrayed, the problem I’m experiencing from the same story repeating in my life. Whenever we focus on what we want to overcome, we feed it energy. It grows in strength and presence in our lives.
It’s okay to take a good look at what we want to overcome, but then move on. Focus instead on where you want to go, on what you want to become. “I’m having a good life no matter what news I get!” What does that feel like to you? Concentrate your attention there and bring it into reality.
Gratitude is the Law of Increase. When you’re grateful for what you have, you get more!
What happens when we focus on what or who we want to become is that we feed that energy. It grows. As it grows and takes up more of our daily experience and life, the “problem” atrophies and falls away. We don’t have to “work on” that which we want to overcome, it just atrophies and falls away as it is deprived of energy. We move toward “becoming.”
And for this process, and our understanding and implementation of it, we can be grateful! Gratitude, as we know, supplants fear. It brings us more of what we really want in life.
Focus on gratitude and unexpected news loses impact.
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Ilene Dillon, MSW, has dedicated her life to helping people resolve personal challenges once and for all, then design life to be what they want it to be. A Transformation Specialist, she has worked 50 years as a psychotherapist and 15 years as a coach. She is a global speaker, Amazon International Best-selling author (The Wellness Universe Guide to Complete Self-Care, Volumes 1 and 2), podcast guest, and plans to give her first TEDx speech (on Anger) later this year. Ilene is also the author of Emotions in Motion: Mastering Life’s Built-in Navigation System and End Manipulation: Stop Being Jerked Around by Toxic, Energy-draining People. With her little dog, Pi, Ilene lives and travels full-time throughout North America in her RV, writing, teaching, and speaking along the way.