It’s Not All Bad, It’s Not All Good: The Art of Balancing Conflicting Emotions


Practice holding two seemingly incompatible emotions at the same time and balancing them, to break out of feeling like a situation is all-or-nothing.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series that explores the psychology of “rebounding” from setbacks in life, and provides four mental skills that you can use to help sharpen your response to injuries or other disappointment. 

There’s no doubt about it: Getting hurt sucks. It’s painful, of course, but it also involves far more than muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments—it’s a full-body physical, mental, and emotional experience. And it’s often the mindset to which you approach the disappointment that will determine how quickly and successfully you bounce back.

Experts have long studied the psychological impact of injuries and other life setbacks, and through their research and work with athletes, they have identified mental skills and tools that can help anyone build more strength and resiliency in the face of any challenge.

In our book Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger From Sports Injuries, we provide 15 essential mental skills for injury recovery—plus hundreds of stories and interviews with athletes who have been there—to help you chart a more positive comeback. This is one of those simple skills you can put into action right now.

Mindset to Master: Holding Both Good News and Bad News

Contrary to what we’re told in TV commercials and social media quotes, we aren’t supposed to be happy all of the time. We aren’t supposed to be anything all of the time. However, sometimes you’ll feel as if you’ve been hijacked by your emotions and that you are stuck in them; as much as you want to feel differently, you’re trapped. Unsticking yourself involves making sense of those moments when you’re experiencing conflicting emotions. For this mental drill, take any challenging situation and see if you can fill in the blanks to the following two sentences:

1. Well, the bad news is …
2. But the good news is …

Here are a examples of this drill in action

The bad news is … I have to bow out of the race this weekend because my hamstring flared up.
The good news is … I’m going to get the chance to binge-watch my latest Netflix obsession.

The bad news is … I’m not going to be able to take the field until my shoulder heals.
The good news is … I’ll have more time to study tape and truly understand my role in critical plays.

The bad news is … I may be looking at the end of my athletic career as I know it.
The good news is … I’ll be able to help younger players from an experienced perspective.

Click the links below to continue reading more mindset tools:

Mindset to Master #1: Labeling Your Emotions

Mindset to Master #2: Going FAR

Mindset to Master #4: Seeing Through the “Funhouse Mirror”

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