Mindfulness, Personal

When Tragedy Strikes

There are so many ways that people react in times of tragedy. Some people struggle to process it, while others can seem to process it a little too well. There are also people that seem to go into an auto pilot and just “get things done” in bad times. However, there is one type of person that I decided to look into further today. This is the “obsessed with tragedy” kind.

Do you know the people I’m referring to? They are typically the ones that are always tweeting up an RIP storm when someone unrelated to them dies. They share multiple Go Fund Me pages, and seem to be overly focused on the bad in life. Why? What is going on with these people?

From what I could find, it starts with the brain (shocker). On Psychology Today they discuss our brain’s “negative bias.” This is the fact we are more likely to react to negative images and situations. Our bodies are physically wired to be “more heavily influenced by downbeat news than good news.” From an evolution stand point it makes sense, but why now? We are struggling much less for survival now, aren’t we? To those who focus on the negative, read on in Psychology Today, because it’s amazing how negative bias is tied to our relationships. 

Finding balance

“Numerous researchers have found that there is an ideal balance between negativity and positivity in the atmosphere between partners.”

Hara Estroff Marano, Psychology Today, 2003

I found another researcher on Psychology Today who states, “But in between these two extremes [gawking for a cheap thrill or stunned trauma], morbid curiosity can sometimes inspire us to imagine ways to transform life’s necessary darkness into luminous vision.” So, maybe that’s it? The people who are so focus on the darkness are trying to find the light. 

In my life, I am encouraged to focus on finding solutions. Not to highlight events as negative or positive, but to assess a situation, decide where I stand on it, and find a solution. Assess whether the situation is good or bad, and then if I need to “fight or flight”. Ultimately, negative thoughts and obsessing over bad events can actually ruin your life

Don’t let negative thoughts ruin your life

“While self-reflection can be a key ingredient to a happy, mindful life, these new findings seem to drive home the point that rumination is just not good for us.” 

Lisa Firestone Ph.D., Psychology Today, 2014

Dr. Firestone says that, “While I encourage people to pursue self-understanding as a means of overcoming personal struggles and becoming their truest selves, I strongly believe that this must be done with self-compassion.” It’s all about battling the inner critic; that little voice inside that can cause us to focus on the negative and develop negative thoughts.

I believe it is a challenging situation and not an easy one to battle. It takes time and sometimes help to achieve a focus on the positive and to be able to battle your inner critic. Personally, I am the “auto pilot” type of person during tragedy. I help, I remain level-headed, and I always focus on the outcome. Dealing with negative situations and people happens; I don’t need to focus on it, but I can work through it and move on. 

Today I ask you to take a moment for self-reflection. Do you find that you are focusing too much on the negative? Are you the first person to jump on the RIP bandwagon? Do many of your conversations with people start with the challenges in your life, or do you social media posts constantly focus on negative events? Life isn’t always positive, but obsessing over the negative isn’t helping you either. 

For the negatively-focused during tragedy, I hope you discover the importance of self-love and “transform life’s necessary darkness into luminous vision.”


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