The Good, The Bad, The Thankful

Ever get bad news? Not just the, “you need a new transmission,” news, or the, “that color doesn’t look good on you,” news. But, life-changing bad news. The kind of news that can send you into the fetal position in a corner, fits of crying or anger, or, perhaps, seclusion.

Sometimes crying is very therapeutic—a great release, and ‘reset’ for your emotions so you can think more clearly. Anger on the other hand, isn’t always the most therapeutic emotion, unless, it’s used in a more constructive manner. When I think of the word, seclusion, I immediately think of Maria in The Sound of Music—she went into seclusion to pray and think. Also something some people find healing.

Think about this—have you ever felt thankful for bad news? Truly thankful. Tough one, right? What possible good could come out of bad news? But, often times, what helps us get through bad news is just that—looking for the good in it, the potential for good, or just being thankful it wasn’t worse.

How many times have we said in life, “Hindsight is 20-20.” When we say that, we’re basically acknowledging that our vision of a person or a circumstance, is crystal clear. We have clarity. And, often times, we’re thankful when we have this level of clarity—it’s kind of like closure.

Being thankful in the midst of a crisis, bad news, or life-changing event—whatever you want to call it, takes practice. Practicing thankfulness doesn’t always come easily. We all have the ability to be selfish, narrow-focused on ourselves (think Erickson’s Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt!), versus the big picture. Practicing thankfulness is intentional, and it takes focus. Ever hear of The Happiness Project? How about starting a Thankfulness Project in your own life?

A Thankfulness Project in your own life may look something like, “boy, as difficult as this is now, I’m glad it happened now, and not 5 years down the road.” Or, “I’m just thankful that I had this jolt, which has allowed me to be more introspective.” Think about this for a moment—without practicing thankfulness, what would a statement or response look like for you?

Somehow I doubt this comes easily for anyone. Being intentionally thankful requires a bit of vulnerability to our weaknesses, and flipping them into something positive. Owning our story is part of this—owning our hurts, our difficult circumstances, and being thankful for them. After all, it’s these circumstances that help shape who we are.

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About Janet Belford

Janet Belford, RN, CLNC, has been a registered nurse for over 24 years, having worked in the pediatric and adult patient populations in critical care, outpatient, case management, and hospice. She is also a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. She brings to the table a passion about patient rights, informed consent, healthcare integrity, domestic violence, patient and family education, mentoring for fellow nurses, and end-of-life care. It is part of Janet’s mission to ‘be real’ with patients and families, not shy away from ‘difficult conversations,’ and to advocate for patient rights.

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