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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Bad news

So, I was thinking about this on my overwhelm day. I sensed that I understood what I felt... er... if you see what I mean... but I am not sure that I can put it into words. Here goes my best effort.

We do not like bad news.

We think that the news is bad.

But the news is just information; it is words. The words are not bad. What may be deemed bad is the content of the information - and that is importantly different.

Example: Because we need to start recording early, you need to be in London by 8am.

Yes, I know: I have chosen something trivially bad. But the point is, once I had this (trivially) bad news, I was (trivially) badly impacted. That is stupid, because the news was about something four days away. Nothing had happened! The (trivial) badness only occurred when my alarm rang at 5am after I'd only had five hours sleep.

Yet I had felt (trivially) bad for days - every time this bad news came into my mind.

Why do we allow ourselves to place so much power on information that is irrelevant unless or until bonded with the event?

Now... I suppose there is a concomitant and opposing benefit to this irrationality in that we may feel good about good news. That is no less irrational, as until the good thing happens there is nothing to feel good about.

The problem, of course, is that we have a negativity bias and are more seriously moved by the bad than the good. Various analyses suggest that we need more than three and up to, I think, as high as eight good things to counteract a bad thing.

So, overall, we would gain much and lose little by not being moved emotionally by information and only by events.

One could argue that physiologically we need to be prepared for flight or fight - but not four bloody days in advance!

I guess we need to live in an informational time frame that aligns with our physiological responses.

Thus, the news 'There is a tiger coming' is useful at the point when you can prepare to flee. The news that you will be made redundant in eight months gives you time to find a new job - but nothing bad happens until you do not have the old or the new job. Instead, we are likely to feel stressed until the situation is resolved. Hence, stomach ulcers and hypertension.

I realise that all I am saying is to repeat the Serenity Prayer or some of the tenets of mindfulness. Yet I only realise that now that I have gone through the process of writing.

There is nothing new in the world.

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