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Use This Technique To Make A Bad Situation Better FAST
Last Updated July 17th, 2014

Bad things happen.

Sometimes REALLY BAD things.

Maybe your product launch flops. Maybe someone leaves a scathing review on your Amazon book page.

Or maybe some unforeseen technical glitch will cost your business thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of dollars in revenue.

As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”

This is the reality of business and life. The question is, when these bad things happen, what should you do?

How to Benefit From Bad Experiences

You can let them eviscerate you…

…or as the experts say, “You can just let it go and move on.”

But that’s HARD.

That’s why, if you’ve ever struggled with a bad experience in your business or life, then you’re going to love this new video.

I’ll share a simple technique I use to move past bad experiences, and how I learn from them. I’ll also share the research behind why it works.

How To Make a Bad Situation Better FAST

When something bad happens, you have a decision to make:

You can let it cripple you or you can move on as fast as possible.

The latter is obviously the better answer, but it’s easier said than done.

When something bad happens, you’re upset. You’re frustrated. You’re stressed.

How could you possibly move on quickly when in that state of mind?

I’m Derek Halpern, the founder of Social Triggers. And in this video, I’ll reveal a simple little technique that can help you turn that frown upside down.

Earlier this year, I had a bad couple of weeks. A few of the companies I’ve worked with were letting me down. They kept making silly mistakes. They weren’t following up.

This happens a lot when you’re working with a lot of different people and companies. But it was really dragging me down.

Then, I decided to end my business relationship with one of these companies. And even though it was over, I was still bummed about the entire experience.

However, I asked myself: “How did I benefit from this experience?”

And I realized something: I learned that the old adage was right: “Fire fast. Hire slow.”

And even though the whole experience was a BIG headache, reframing it from, “AH, this stinks!” to, “this was a valuable lesson I benefited from” made me feel instantly better.

Now check this:

I recently stumbled on some research from the University of Miami. In the study, volunteers were asked to describe something bad that happened to them. Then, they were asked to list the ways they benefited from this bad experience.

What happened?

The researchers discovered that the simple exercise of writing at least one benefit of a bad experience made people feel happier, less stressed, and it seemingly had a positive effect on their health.

It turns out, when something bad happens, asking yourself, “how did I benefit from this experience?” is a surefire way to feel better about it.

I saw it first hand. And now there’s research to back it up, too.

Now I have a question for you:

Have you ever used this strategy? Unknowingly or knowingly? Share your experience in the comments. I Would love to hear it.

Plus, do you know someone who’s going through some big headaches right now? Pass this video on to them and help them feel better about it.

If you’re new around here, make sure you subscribe to my channel, and pop over to Social Triggers and get on the email list.

I send videos just like this each week. You don’t want to miss them.

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46 comments Leave a comment
AJ & Serenity Services

Hey Derek thanks for another awesome video!

Before I got into the world of making money online, I was involved in real estate. I came across an online home study course for sale about commercial bird dogging (in a nutshell, getting paid finder’s fees for bringing property deals to real estate investors). Out of respect and confidentiality, I will not state the author’s name.

I remember I went ahead and took the plunge and invested $97 in the program. Then I was shown two upsells: one to bird dog for the author and bring her property deals, and another for DVDs on even more info on commercial bird dogging. I went ahead and took the 2nd upsell.

To make a long story short, I was very disappointed with the main program. It was very disorganized and had no step by step program I could follow. I was lost and confused as to what forms were for what. The program gave no direction on how to effectively find the property deals or find the investor buyers. I got the overall impression that the author was more interested in how much money she could make off me. I was so disappointed I requested my money back (which I did get back).

The main lesson I learned here was be careful not to get too seduced by the ability to make lots of money within a short period of time. Also take the time to do your research and due diligence before parting ways with your hard earned money.

I can honestly say I’m happier now being an online entrepreneur. I don’t have to deal with any confusing forms or paperwork. My partner and I take pride in helping other online entrepreneurs succeed.


Nice Derek!
What a great way to turn things around and look on the bright side.
We all have bad experiences in life but I really loved the tip of picking up the pen and writing down at least one good thing I’ve learned from it, it instantly switches your mind from negative to positive and you’d be surprised how many good things we can find from one bad experience.

Thanks a lot Derek, I will embrace this one and make it a habit.


So true Derek. If only we could remind ourselves this in the middle of a crisis!


Hi, great techniques ! I watched your video and it gave me a different perspective on how to make bad situations better. Thanks for sharing. Great post!


Taking the “what can I learn from this?” approach to bad situations has helped me both personally and professionally.

With a difficult client or getting ripped off, I improve my social skills and client handling skills or make my contract stronger and vow not to work so fast and loose.

Learning from life is a big part of why the winners win and the losers don’t.

Harry Scott

Great video Derek. I’m also a firm believer that there are only lessons to be learned from bad situations and failure. Having been in business for 5 years I’ve had more failures in that time, than in the past 25 years working in business. But… I’ve learned from every single one of them and guess what? I’m still in business and even better, growing and prospering. I think I unconciously use that technique after that many failures, but having it explained is really helpful. Thanks again for the great advice.

Gabe Johansson

I’ve run a full on ad campaign to a landing page where the subscribe form didn’t work properly, and wasted about $50 in one go. Because of that mishap, I’ve always tested forms and haven’t had it happen since.

Great video, and it’s great that you reference studies too!

The Get In Shape Girl

Incredible. Amazing, amazing timing. Right now my bf and I are about to make the move from Boston to Tampa. The plan is to leave in the first week of October. Well, our landlord sold the house we live in so now we have to move twice (our place in Tampa won’t be ready yet.) It sucks and it’s incredibly inconvenient especially since I’m going to Europe in the middle of all that.
Also, I took my car to a mechanic last week to get a new clutch. $1800 later I get my car back and the horn no longer works and the light for my airbag is on and the mechanic says it’s not his responsibility although it happened on his watch.
Needless to say, I’ve spent a lot of this week crying, drinking wine and yelling at people and it sucks, but I keep telling myself there’s a lesson to be learned here. I’m not really sure what it is yet, but I know I will learn something.


Love this advice Derek!

It’s something I’ve been doing more and more in the last few years. I realised that being annoyed, angry, sad, down etc. didn’t do anything productive so now I immediately turn it around with (as Marie Forleo says) “What can I learn from this?”

The last very annoying thing that happened was my laptop suddenly dying without notice (duh!) while I was working. It was on a Saturday afternoon with a deadline on Monday and I hadn’t backed up what I was doing.

After a crazy run to the computer guy who couldn’t do anything on the spot, I calmed down and took responsibility for the lack of backup. I decided that I needed a system to backup everything weekly both on external drive and online. I took the rest the day off and decided to redo all the work the next day with the right mindset, which I did. I respected the deadline, awesome computer guy could retrieve everything on my hard drive and now I have a system in place to lessen the damage if this ever happens again. Also, I am fully expecting this to happen again.

So all-in-all, shifting my mindset not only allowed me to deal with the situation at hand but also improved my business.

Marsha from YesYesMarsha.com

This is GREAT.

I’ve been trying to use this mindset when finding that I’m beating myself up about something I did or didn’t do. What did I learn from making the mistake? What would I do different next time?

Barbara Kaplan

In 2009, I talked a friend into hiring me to help sell for an annual expo she ran. I learned a lot about how to run an expo from her. She taught me how she cleverly worded things to her benefit – a great lesson in business. I also learned how NOT to treat customers, and especially employees (me), as she was quick to yell or YELL IN EMAILS when she was “in a mood.”

Although I only worked for her for a half year, and I lost a friend in the process, I benefitted by being able to open my own business in 2010 and run expos of my own. For that, I am really grateful.

Sophia Martin

This is so useful, that I would definitely be blogging about it! Regarding the bad experiences, I’ve a list to share and honestly, every time I learned a new thing out of those bad experiences. From doing simple research to brand awareness campaigns, right now I can formulate really workable and SMART strategies and I developed the skill from nothing except my own bad experiences!

Jesse Parker

Hey Derek,
What a great practice.
As an internet marketer I really struggle with a lot of frustrations, there are lots of ups and downs through the way and sometimes I really feel like banging my head in the wall but this advice could really help me shake of the poor mentality and turn it around.

It reminds of me of what Michael Jordan said once when he was asked if he had bad experiences, he said “I haven’t had any bad experience, I’ve looked at any negative impact I’ve had and taken that as a positive, it’s how you perceive those things”.

Thanks Derek


One of your best videos yet Derek; very human. This is the way I wanted to be given advice when I was going through a rough time in my life.


This is great advice for business problems.

But as someone who is trying to save a little raped girl half a world away to get to the hospital that will help her live, this video is not actually that helpful. There is nothing “positive” that she could say about the brutality she has suffered, especially if she dies, which she may.

So for me? Sure. this is a technique I will practice and I thank you. For her? Not so much…

p.s. I have an Indiegogo account for her, if you are interested in helping, You can go to Indiegogo.com and search Saving Nzambi. thanks!

Laura Benjamin

Our home (and 487 others) burned in Colorado’s Black Forest Wildfire last June. We lost everything. It’s now a year later and there were a number of benefits: a nicer bigger brand new home, discovering some serious code issues with our well and septic system, more closet space (grin) and the basis for a book and keynote speech on the experience. It was quite the adventure to go through and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but we did get through it thanks to support from friends and family. I can’t think of too many experiences that wouldn’t have a benefit that ultimately comes from it. Thank you for a reaffirming concept. You do a great job!



Mckenna Hallett

As toddlers, we certainly don’t quit trying to walk when we careen onto our diapered behinds. We learn from our mistakes and eventually get our balance and put one foot in front of the other.

Perhaps entrepreneurs and savvy business owners learn that early and unconscious lesson in a more fundamental way?

OH….and a corollary that I teach: the successful among us don’t blame the ground for making them fall, they blame themselves for not seeing obstacle they tripped over and learn where to expect those obstacles in the future. (hint: be present and alert at all times and take off the rose-colored glasses once in while!)

THANKS for another GREAT video! You’re the man!


Great video. The most challenging experience you’ve asked me to describe involved interpersonal relationships when I was 39. No need to go into details but my decisions caused pain to several people. I went through a lot of pain too.

Until now, I’d really never thought to try your technique for this particular event. By using it, I see that a great deal of good came out of it because I am living a happier life. I also learned from those mistakes so that I can never cause that sort of pain again. Finally, you’ve helped me let go of some guilt.

Long and short to others – yes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems there is not.

Carma Spence

Interesting. I have done this … many times. Most recently, after I was attacked by now ex-boyfriend (he’s now in prison … how did I attract that into my life?), I learned about the 15 warning signs of a potential batterer. I turned that into one of my best podcasts and free reports: The 7 Warning Signs of a Bad Client. I look on that experience as a wake up call to the pattern of increasingly abusive relationships in my life and am now on the road to improving that aspect of my life, which, of course, has benefits in other areas of my life, as well. There is always a silver lining … you just need to look for it!

Mary Planding


Very well put! And so very true – it’s a strategy I learned years ago that works. And every so often I forget it when deep in the throes of a gazillion things. Moving on has always been easy, but letting go rarely is – until you stop and figure out the lesson learned.

I approach such situations with:
– OK, what was my part in this debacle? [This gets me out of the “blame” it on someone else game and puts whatever my stuff is back on me to fix.]
– What will I do again that worked?
– What won’t I ever do again because it didn’t?

I usually walk away with at least 2 lessons learned. And you’re right, at that point I always feel better and lighter. Not to mention more grateful and humble.


I must have been learning to do this without realizing it over the past couple of years and am recently realizing the benefits…I worked a really tough job as a consultant and mostly felt like a failure at meeting my goals by the end of it, but I was able to articulate a lot more clearly what WAS important to me and HOW I needed to be able to work for my next jobs due to this experience. It also taught me some great emotional skills about letting my agenda go and being mature about it. Yesterday I got to practice this again in my home relationship; in the past I would have wallowed in guilt and shame for days, stuck in a mire of depression, but this time I actively acknowledged what I had learned and what I had done better than times in the past, and my recovery time was amazing. Great topic.


So you asked “how did you overcame a bad experience?” and I decided to answer. 🙂

Things in my life have been tuff and may be seeing as bad or as challenging. I am still going through it. And this is how I am dealing with it as of this moment and for a while.

I try to quiet the mind and stop thinking and then to remind myself that my every experience is, after all, my own experience and my interpretation of it.

That the reality is neutral, and in my own world I give the meaning to everything by the value I assign to it.

That wanting to be in control of the events is natural to human, as well as fear. That fear of loss is a powerful force. That likely not everything can be predicted and prepared for.

As long as I do my best, and I (and we) always do, being at this current (and every other) stage of my (and our) personal development, I can allow myself to be at peace with myself.

And let go and move on. Life does go on. The meanings may and will change. There are countless other things to be focused on meanwhile. Time is precious to stay focused on misfortunes (as I see them at the moment).

I will naturally forget most of what happened, as I will allow life to press in new information and experiences. My human memory will twist the past facts selectively. I want to focus my mind eye on positive to have a better chance to enjoy the moment, to notice and remember more joyful, fun and exiting moments.

After all life is what one makes of it, isn’t it? Isn’t this life an adventure if we dare actually do things? At times this adventure is scary and painful. At other times it’s joyful and pleasurable.

Then I remember the words:
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”
~ Helen Keller
US blind & deaf educator (1880 – 1968)

That gives me reassurance I am on the right pass.

Then I remember also that “S*%t happens”.

That reminds me loosing is not an end of the world.

Them I remember the video of the tourist having fun and getting swallowed whole by a croc in the next second.

That reminds me to put things in perspective.

So I am ok. I am alive and “kicking”. I can see the light. I still have time, will and incentive to enjoy this life.

So that’s in two words 🙂


Sounds exactly like a form of re-framing–a technique that got me through some really rough spots. I love the distinction between asking what can be learned from a situation, and looking for a “silver lining.” Wishful thinking and baseless optimism are no good. Looking for the lesson to be learned, though, is priceless.

Julian Seery Gude

Great video Derek, thank you for posting.

Can you share a link for the University of Miami study you cited? I can’t narrow it down, UM appears to have done a lot of studies on gratitude.

I have tried writing down things I’m grateful for and I think it works. But, I’ve never tried this method and I think it’s very novel. We all have a lot of things happen in our lives that we deem *bad* so it seems like we have no shortage of things to practice this method on. 🙂



I have been using this technique Derek for the past 2 years and it has made me feel so much happier. I call it ‘harvesting the good’. The law of opposites helps me to see the good, from a challenge. If something is a challenge, then something really good will come from it. 🙂 This is a good video. It is also good that you put in the research stats. I like that


I was hit by a car and landed in intensive care. Life for me and my family was a nightmare. Then things got really bad. Three insurance companies — one health and two auto — refused to pay nearly $100,000 of medical bills. The physical recovery was the easy part and took only took three years. The financial recovery was the most challenging.

What I did about it was leave my career and start a business dedicated to helping other people avoid this situation. The benefits so far have been in the form of job satisfaction and thank you notes. That said, when you believe as passionately about what your doing as I do, a simple thank you note can bring tears to your eyes.

Check out my company and website. I hope can help you, a friend or loved one. Please share what I’m doing on social media.

I fucked up

Coming from a guy who just royally fucked up a working relationship with a client… this post came as the best time EVER. Vanessa, that failure file thing sounds painful yet very effective!


Well this has sparked an interesting experiment..
what if..at the end of each day I write down everything bad that happened and how I benefitted. As time goes on I would forming a giant book of life lessons that makes me feel better and helps me learn on a consistent basis…its worth a try.


I just finished a week that was the same…maybe worse. It was horrible…if you aren’t going to crawl into a hole and quit…You have to leave the “ick” behind and look at the benefits. THERE ARE benefits. Maybe not this second…but in the very near future. It is the ONLY way to get through it. Sometimes you can’t let it all go…it follows you – but you still have to focus on what is good and right. You can either let it sour you on people in general…or you can do what you did…learn a lesson from it and fire fast and hire slow. LOL…there are 2 people who weren’t hired last week because of what happened. AND…don’t rely on recommendations of people who are friends …only on people who have been in a business relationship- and even then…listen to your intuition. I had a biggee last week…a COSTLY biggee….and I am already in a better place…minus the frustration, limited production and only left with the disappointment….and though it has cost me a lot of money and time (I look like the presidents do one week after they take office with wrinkles and gray hair) it will even out eventually. What Derek says is good…it isn’t pretty, but it is how you get through it. I now have a strong, intelligent, honest, straight forward team who I trust and who are looking out for my best interest…and I have made changes so I can’t be damaged like that again…so I really am ahead. We just still have some mess ahead to clean up…but most of it is done. Thank goodness. (thanks for a good and timely subject and letting me get this off my chest)…Life is good if you let it be.

Ja Gold

Thank you… timely advice Derek.

Vanessa Van Edwards

Hey Derek!

Love this tip, I keep a failure file of all of my failures and how I could do better next time. I guess I was doing this tip without realizing.

Would you mind posting a link to the research?


Kay Hirai

Hi Derek,
I love watching your teaching videos with your added humor. It makes learning fun. I am working on an art project right now called, “I am grateful for…). It’s a simple fold-out mini book (very colorful). Each page will have a sentence about what I’m grateful for plus a colorful background and art.
A go-to-book whenever I need some inspiration to turn my negative attitude into a positive affirmation. We sure need plenty of positive energy living through life’s ups and downs right?


Great video and advice Derek! A story of “bad turned to benefit”…

When I was living in Italy, I was about to launch a venture when my investor backed out. I literally lost everything…my home and all my savings. It was bad. However, I had a friend in Sweden who said I could come there for a month to figure things out.

I packed up a couple boxes of essential belongings, shipped them. I packed two suitcases and bought a one-way ticket to Stockholm. I only had one month before I had to leave my friend’s home, so I had to hustle. Long story short, with a laptop and $25, I launched a venture that brought in close to $12,000 within 4 weeks, working just one day a week. (It was very much legal :)) I was able to get my own place and start over.

One (of many) good things that came out of it was I created a program on how to turn your talents, gifts and skills into 4 figures an hour. It was my start in the online business world. That “bad” experience has been paying me ever since…not to mention I do not worry what would happen if I ever lost everything. I am truly free.

Thanks for letting us share our stories!

— Rhonda Cort

Cluny Grey

I’ve been right in the middle of the nightmare! I retired early from teaching at a local college and rented an apartment in the D.C. area (my husband flew back and forth from our home) to be with my first and only grandchild. I had started making jewelry and loved it. And it was selling so well that I could pay for a luxury apartment and all my expenses myself (because I retired at 53 I did not have any personal income). Then about 8 months ago, the bottom fell out. It’s as though I can’t give my jewelry away!
All my SEO efforts which were great before no longer worked and I still haven’t gotten back to the number 1 place I had before. I’ve been so despondent because while we bought a townhouse here 3 years ago and I no longer have rent or many expenses, I’ve always had my own money. Plus I love making the jewelry and running the site.
Today is the first day I’ve taken a deep breath and rolled my sleeves up to confront the entire problem head-on and systematically to decide what I am going to do. I am remembering that every failure is a lesson, and that when one thing ends, something else is going to open up if I make it!
It’s pure serendipity that I got your email today. Thanks for strengthening my resolve!


It’s about perspective, which can be learned. The goal: Letting things take us to where we’re supposed to be as opposed to where we’ve ended up.

I learned it by a similar exercise you described, writing things down. Referred to as a gratitude list. I’d write one daily – 10 things I was grateful for – regardless of how poorly I felt my day went.

Kamila Gornia | for passion-driven solopreneurs

Yeah, bad happenings suck.

The first startup I worked in was on the “giving” end of the spectrum. There weren’t a lot of people and they weren’t doing stuff the way they should have, I was very conscious of this and it frustrated the heck out of me.

Flipping the mindset shows that I DID benefit a lot from the disorganized and frustrating setting after all:
1) I learned that I like order more than I thought I did
2) I now know when people BS me since I worked with professional BS-ers
3) I now know how to give the best experience I can to MY clients bacause I don’t ever want them to feel like the clients did when I worked in that first start up

There are always upsides to every situation. So simple yet so true. It’s all about perspective and mindset.

Patty Ann

Derek, there are no BAD experiences, only LESSONS LEARNED.

The toughest, most challenging people and events always leave us with the gift of knowledge. It’s our choice whether to use it, or not.


I’ve had several experiences with passive aggressive clients, clients who decide not to pay their final invoice, clients who demand work that is way outside of the agreed-upon scope.

I once wrote a business plan for a consultant whose client wanted to buy a blueberry farm. They rejected my draft financial projections because the revenue was not coming in year-round (um, it’s fruit and we’re in Canada…so…?). When I said I could not create projections that demonstrated year-round revenue, the consultant told me I had ruined the client’s life.

What did I learn? Most importantly that I needed to have more approval processes along the way so that issues like this could be mitigated before I did completely different work than what the client expected. Perhaps we could have shifted directions with the project and found another revenue stream or business venture that would have more consistent revenue.

But yeah, blueberry crops that produce all year? No amount of genetic modification’s going to make that happen…yikes.


Hi Derek, another great tip. To share my personal experience and mindset, I always try to see the positive side of any event that happens and is not going exactly as I expected..

We all make mistakes due to wrong judgements that come out of lacking experience in specific situations.. The best way to handle a situation when it is not waht we expected it to be is to see it as an experience that we can learn from and use this wealth of information next time in order to not make the same mistake the second time.

Thanks for reminding us this very important tip to manage our daily routine with the good and the “bad” potential events. 🙂


Rachel aka RC Vane

SO true, Derek! I use this all the time and I just used this the other day…

I had an appointment set with this guy for 2 weeks. The night before the appointment he left me a voicemail 8:30pm about wanting to reschedule. The next morning I was busy with my 3 kids and then had to run to meeting – so at 10:30am when I checked my phone, he had called again, emailed me, left me a nasty text message and was obviously upset. When I called him back it was a strained to call to say the least, he was basically yelling at me and that was upsetting… but instead of wallowing, I acknowledged learned a lot about setting expectations, realistic response times and I got a great blog post out of it – I should call him up and thank him for being such a jerk! 🙂


I heard once, something like this:

Its not important whos fault is it, The important is who learned from this fault.

Sorry about the english 😛


Great insight Derek, this is so true and efective.

I always use a variant of that same question:

“What’s good about this?”

…and it’s true you don’t get an answer right then but what I do it’s keep asking the same question with a slightly change:

“What good could come from this?”

…and in the rare case nothing comes up I would ask:

“If I really wanted to see the good on this, what would I see?”

I have read some studies and this has been proven to me over and over again: When you ask a question to yourself, your brain will always came up with the answer so we better be asking ourselves good questions like these instead of the old:

“Why does this always happen to me” or “Why am I so dumb”.


So simple but so effective Derek! I tell that to everyone. It doesn’t matter how I ended up in a situation – I’m there now. How do I get from where I am to where I want to be? And how do I make sure I don’t end up committing the same mistake again?

I stop dwelling and I take action. It’s so much easier to stay positive and I try and keep spreading that message! Thanks for laying it out in such a simple way Derek!


    Exactly – simple way! But this is a thing you need to remind yourself.


      Sure enough. You do things in such an automatic way that you need to remind yourself sometimes.

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