Dealing with Negative Events

Do you ever find yourself turning off the evening news because watching one more story about something bad will shoot your stress level into the stratosphere? Global warming, terrorism, record home foreclosures and of course, murder, crime and scandal are the prevailing stories of the day. We live in a world where we're constantly bombarded by bad news. While you can't bury your head in the sand and pretend these problems don't exist, can you prevent the state of the world from stressing you out?

Louise Lewis, a "self-growth junkie" and author of the inspirational the book, No Experts Needed: The Meaning of Life According to You! believes we can learn to protect ourselves from feeling overwhelmed by negative events. "Many of us, whether we're consciously aware of it or not, absorb all of this bad news and it chips away at our sense of security and balance," says Lewis. "So how do you prevent the state of the world from completely stressing you out? You focus on changing the state of your world and on touching the lives around you in a positive way."

For example, if your life is a daily routine of getting up, going to work and then coming home and watching TV each night, you can become isolated. That makes it easy to focus on the very negative things that are going on in the world. On the flip side, if you seek out opportunities to socialize and show compassion towards others you achieve multiple positive benefits.

"When you build bonds with other people it's like weaving a safety net for yourself," says Lewis. "The ability to commiserate and laugh together establishes a healthy foundation for you emotionally. And when you feel anxious about the world-at-large, giving to others can help. Your giving spirit can simply lead you to talk to someone who looks lonely in a coffee shop. Sometimes chance encounters where you take the time to reach out on a human level can have a profound impact on others -- and yourself."

Reaching out to others can be a key coping strategy when things in your own life get rough -- and the reality is, they will get rough at some point. Whether you're dealing with a divorce, death of a loved one or some other drastic, life-altering event, Lewis believes it is possible to prepare yourself for adversity.

"I'm not saying you should walk around in a constant state of anticipation waiting for bad things to happen to you," says Lewis. "But realistically speaking no one is immune from problems. So if you work on fortifying your life, you'll be in a better position to handle those major events when they do happen."

So how do you "fortify" your life? For starters, you spend time figuring out what's important to you -- essentially determining what your personal meaning of life is. If you gain a sense of what matters most in your life and then focus on those areas, you'll have an anchor when the storm hits.

"Deciding your own meaning of life gives you strength and it also gives you a freedom to break down barriers with the people you love," says Lewis. "Once I began following my own sense of purpose, I was able to talk to my family in a new, more open way. They sensed the honesty of it and its changed the dynamics of our relationships. It put history in its proper place -- the past. And our improved relationships fortified my buffer zone against the bad things in life."