Bad Things Never Have Good Timing
Updated: Mar 13
By Michael Whaby
“When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad… you should do what I do! Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more… oh, ever so much more… oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!” – Dr. Seuss
As a sophomore in college, at age nineteen, I lost my dad to suicide. This is never something that anyone, let alone someone my age at the time, could be prepared for. And truly, there is no proper way to deal with these situations. Certainly, there are precautions that should be carried out to prevent it: notice the signs, offer help, find help. But once it’s too late, what then?
I had two options: to let it define me or let it refine me. There was little clarity in the days, even weeks following the incident. I couldn’t choose what to do with it or how to deal with it. For a while, I felt broken. I’d laugh, I’d cry, ignore it, embrace it, retrace it, displace it. But then I began to realize that I was thinking about it in terms of myself. That’s what many people do when things, especially bad things, happen to them. Wait… To them?
One of the greatest epiphanies I had that helped me cope with this—and many other situations in life—was the realization that things aren’t happening to me, they are just happening. Upon this realization, I actually felt bad that I had been acting so selfish. Here, something terrible had happened to someone that I love, and I was thinking about it in terms of myself. That frame of mind would soon be altered. And because of that, I chose the latter option: I let it refine me.
When life throws a curveball
Life tends to do this a lot. One moment you feel like you’re on top of the world, and the next you’re at the lowest you’ve ever been. There is never a good time to be fired, or get in a car accident, or burn your dinner, or lose a loved one. Life isn’t like, “Hmm, seems like Michael has a light week. Might as well give him a flat tire now while he has time to deal with it!” If only…
The truth is, bad things can happen at any time. There is never a good time for bad things to happen. Most of life is pretty consistent. And for most of us, this means that we’re usually pretty busy. These things just happen, and that’s all there is to it. All we can do is think of why it happened, and then learn and grow from it.
We must have the persistence to see things through in the easiest, and more crucially, in the hardest of times. Most of the time, you are not the only one affected by tragedy. Take my situation, for instance: I lost my dad, but I wasn’t the only one to lose him. He had a big family and lots of friends that loved him just as I did. More importantly, he lost himself. Nobody would benefit from me losing myself to depression, anger, blame or guilt. I know deep down that my dad wouldn’t want to see anyone whom he loved to be ruined because of his flaws. For this reason, I decided to own it.
To be there for others, including myself, required immense self-work. I only gained the power to see things through and build myself—refine myself—when I realized that nothing had happened to me. The situation was tragic, unfortunate, and heartbreaking, but I picked myself up because I’d be damned if I let life kick me around. It may take some time, but everyone has the power to refine themselves and see things through in the face of life’s shit.
So, what are you going to do about it?
The next time something makes you mad or depressed, just take a minute to think about what you’re feeling and why you’re feeling it. The most underappreciated skill that applies to everyday life, in my opinion, is emotional intelligence. Do you control your emotions, or do they control you? I truly believe that this is a fluctuating skill, too. It requires constant attention. Some days I can sit in traffic for over an hour, for what should be a twenty-minute drive, and feel peachy; others I’ll be punching the steering wheel and yelling at the person in front of me for stopping at a yellow light. I am not perfect.
There is one thing that I try carry out every single day: not to sweat the little things. From the example that I gave above, you can see that I do, at times, sweat the little things. I did say try. I’m talking bigger things that people tend to beat themselves up over. The “bigger” things that we beat ourselves up over are not the biggest things that are going to happen to us. We should save our energy and mind for those moments. This will help us to make more of the best moments of our lives, and also to better deal with the worst moments.
Life is going to kick you down. The likelihood is that you’re going to fail a test, you’re going to get denied, you’re going to face loss. But what are you going to do about it? Understand that you’re not the victim. How you feel when bad things happen is 100% a result of how you react to the situation. Because bad things will happen, but its up to you to decide how to react.