You get fired from your job. Your mom dies. You get dumped. You don’t get the sale. Your offer is rejected. You get a DUI. You think your spouse is cheating on you. You find out you have cancer.
There is a vicious cycle, a terrible downward spiral that far too many people are caught in at this very moment. You might be one of them.
Something terrible happens to you. Something like the list above. You’re hurt, crushed, disappointed, saddened, angry, devastated, or some combination therein. And because this negative thing has happened, you are now required to DO something. Choose something. Decide something. Action is necessary. And because this awful thing is consuming all of our thoughts, down to our core, we want to react NOW.
Scientific studies (and our own anecdotal experiences) tell us that we literally lose IQ points when we are in a negative mood — being sad, angry, disappointed, etc. makes us dumber, by as much as 50%!
We end up in this situation where we need to decide what to do after this awful thing has happened to us, we feel compelled to act immediately, but our minds are functioning at partial capacity. The path forward is challenging, uncertain, and requires us to be at our very best, but we are so far from it. What often happens next is a decision is made, with our incapacitated mind, and we do the wrong thing. We react incorrectly. And then the consequence from that makes us even more upset, cripples our ability to find intelligent, creative, thoughtful solutions, we do something dumb yet again, and the cycle continues. And it can continue for YEARS.
But it doesn’t have to. This entire downward spiral can be avoided by doing one simple thing that is tremendously easy to say, but far more difficult to do.
Wait. And do nothing.
It is absolutely imperative that you avoid making important decisions or reacting to a scenario when you are in this corrupt state of mind. You’re not as smart. You’re not as creative. You’re going to miss solutions that will be obvious later when you’ve had a chance to calm down, sleep, put some time between you and the problem, and improve your mental state.
Don’t skip over that sleep step, either. There’s a reason people suggest “sleeping on it.” Your brain does a fantastic job of coming up with good solutions while you’re sleeping. Sleeping also serves as a natural emotional reset, giving you back some of the IQ points lost by being upset.
So, that’s the lesson here: do everything possible to avoid making important decisions or taking new action when you’re mad or upset, when you are literally 20-50% dumber than normal. In most cases, the consequence for waiting won’t be as catastrophic as the fallout from doing the wrong thing. Give yourself time to get your mind as positive as possible, sleep on it, and then you’ll see the ideas and solutions start to come to you.
And then maybe you’ll realize it’s not so bad after all.