Things are rarely as bad as they first appear. Not usually. When bad news strikes we often assume that there'll be unbearably terrible consequences. We let our thoughts run away with us and jump to unnecessarily pessimistic conclusions. But that's not usually how situations work out. Just because something really awful could happen doesn't mean that it will. Real life is rarely as dire as our first thoughts suggest.
Things are rarely as bad as they first look. The reason why you can't find your front door keys might be because you left them at home, not on the bus. That brown envelope on your doormat might be junk mail, not a bill. Just because your train stopped between stations doesn't mean you're going to miss your connection. The bland-looking meal your mother-in-law just served up might actually taste quite nice. The row you just had with your partner doesn't mean your relationship is over. That glare your boss just gave you doesn't mean you're about to get the sack.
Things are rarely as bad as they first seem. That newspaper headline hinting at mortgage meltdown might just be the same old story repackaged. Those two lost data discs are probably misfiled in a store cupboard somewhere, not in the hands of evil online crimelords. Sudden plane turbulence usually ends in the air, not on the ground. Eating processed meat probably won't kill you, it'll just make you feel unnecessarily guilty. That lad in a hoodie advancing towards you up a dark alley is almost certainly holding a mobile, not a knife.
Things are sometimes far worse than they first seem. That first swear word your child just uttered might mean they'll grow up to be an uncouth brat. That crack you've just spotted in your wall might mean that your house will soon be worthless. That gathering storm cloud may contain a lightning bolt that strikes you. That lump you just found might get bigger. All these terrible things happen somewhere, to some people, in the evil lottery of life. But usually these worst case scenarios are exactly the things we fear might happen, but never do.
Sometimes bad news is merely the herald of instability. You've been used to your world running one way, but suddenly there's an unplanned diversion ahead. You thought you knew where you were heading, but you were wrong. That exam you didn't pass, maybe the failure will set your career on a different, more appropriate track. That worrying diagnosis your doctor just gave you, perhaps it'll finally encourage you to change your lifestyle and prevent the onset of something far worse. That job you're about to be made redundant from, maybe losing it will be just the kick you've long needed to find something better. Bad news might rock your boat, but it probably won't sink you.
When faced with bad news, always stop and consider how bad that bad news really is. If, genuinely, the worst has been confirmed then grit your teeth, hold tight, and try to ride out the storm. But if things aren't yet really bad, or if this is merely unconfirmed speculation, then don't panic. Hold fire, and wait to see how events pan out. Because things are rarely as bad as they first appear. Most probably. Fingers crossed.