When Bad Things Happen


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Everyone wants their lives to be filled with good things and joy. Ideally we all should be able to live in our own utopia. There should be no disappointments, no heartaches, no tragedies, and no disasters. Each day should be nothing but happiness.

Unfortunately, bad things happen. Sometimes very bad things. Bad things don't discriminate when they strike. They can strike very good people who didn't do anything to deserve them. They can strike without warning or reason.

The death of a loved one, crime, murder, rape, suicide, disease, wars, and terrorism are among the bad things that happen. Bad things can turn lives upside down and inside out. Their effects can be devastating. When bad things happen there are many more questions than answers.

People who encounter bad things experience emotions they never knew they were capable of. Extreme grief, despair, guilt, anger, and blame are common reactions. People who experience bad things can be changed forever. Their world never appears the same.

Perspectives and priorities are radically altered. There are feelings that one might want to share. But most others won't understand what they are going through. It feels as if there is no escaping those emotions that one never wanted to experience.

There are unwelcome thoughts and feelings that pop into the mind without warning. Waves of intense emotions can hit unexpectedly. A person can be feeling OK one minute and then the next minute nosedive. There are thoughts of “why me?" “what did I do to deserve this?" or “what does it all mean?"

If you have experienced something bad, you can feel trapped in a waking nightmare. Is there anything you can do? How do you live your life? How do you deal with indescribably intense feelings? Will life ever be normal again?

There is hope and you can and will move forward. You can't rush or avoid going through your feelings of grief. As extreme as they are, they are real and you do feel them. You need to experience your feelings. It's all right to do so. If you try to deny them, they will only surface later and can be detrimental to your well being.

Whether you like it or not, a certain amount of time must pass before you are ready to start moving ahead with your life. How much time is needed depends on the circumstances and the individual. There is no appropriate amount of time. Don't allow other people to tell you what you should or shouldn't be feeling or what you should or shouldn't be doing.

You may feel guilt. It's normal to think that if you only had an opportunity to do things over, or make different decisions, there would have been a better outcome. You can't turn back the clock. You can't go back in time even one second. You have to accept what has transpired because it can't be changed. You shouldn't feel bad about feeling bad. Your feelings are what they are. There are no right or wrong feelings.

It is extremely helpful to find someone to talk to about your feelings and emotions. Trained professionals and/or support groups of people with similar experiences are good options. Your ultimate goal is to begin living again. You may be changed. There may be feelings that will never totally go away. But you will be able to move forward. Even with these feelings, you will feel happiness again and bring joy to others.

Unless another person has experienced what you have, they don't have a clue as to what you are going through or experiencing. As well meaning as others’ opinions might be, you have to go through your own grief and healing process in whatever way works for you.

You can strive to be a better and stronger person for what you have endured. If you can use what you have learned from your experiences to help even one other person overcome adversity, then you have squeezed some good from otherwise awful circumstances.

However, there are certain behaviors that you must avoid. Turning to alcohol or illegal drugs only make things worse. They will never help you in a positive manner. You don't want to engage in self-destructive behavior. You don't want to lash out at loved ones.

There are people who love you and who depend on you. You may not grasp how much influence you have on others and it's probably more widespread than you are aware. More people care about you than you realize. Within you lies greater strength to survive and go on than you comprehend. But the strength is there. Have faith in it.

You will get through and survive the bad times. The journey might be hellish but you will emerge. Unfortunately, there is no magic remedy or solution. Life is precious and you must make the most of it. If you can use your experiences to help others dealing with similar circumstances, it will help you and the other person to heal.

Like the grief phase, the healing process also takes time. Helping others can assist the healing process and allow you to focus on something positive. Critical to the healing phase is starting to move forward with your life. Even though you may feel that you will never be or feel the same, continuing with your life is necessary for your well being.

Get through each day. Don't worry about tomorrow, just deal with today. If it's too overwhelming to get through an entire day, work on an hour at a time. Find a strategy that works for you. Don't be concerned about the directives of others telling you how you should feel, what you should do, or how much time you need.

Other people have continued living in spite of bad things. You can and will too.

Copyright 2005 Bryan Golden

Bryan Golden is a self-development and motivational expert, author, and professor. He is the author of “Dare to Live Without Limits, " and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column. For more information please visit: http://www.daretolivewithoutlimits.com or http://www.bryangolden.com


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