How to use the right ‘Bargaining’ tools to recover losses

1 Apr 2020

Within every setback or loss are a series of hidden losses. For example, when I arrived at the venue on my first Emotional Logic training weekend, I had a flat tyre. Apart from the obvious setback of not being able to drive my car I was experiencing a whole series of other losses: 

  • Engagement in the learning process (because I was spending ages on the phone trying to locate a garage)
  • Control (because I didn’t know what I was doing)
  • Friendship (because relationships were being formed and I was missing out)
  • Contribution (because I am a team player and value being part of something).  

All of these hidden losses represent things that I personally value: learning, engagement, participation, building relationships, contribution. To “accept” my flat tyre also meant accepting all these other losses and that felt too much. I felt hopeless in the situation and somewhat powerless. I’m ashamed to say I know virtually nothing about cars and definitely had a spell in the depression lay-by recognising my own limits! I was on my depression stepping stone.

Bargaining is the often unconscious process that we engage in to get back something that is important to us. In Emotional Logic, bargaining to get back a hidden loss can be sufficient to move us towards a place of acceptance for our bigger loss. With the flat tyre situation, I had some options. Our depression stepping stone has a useful purpose here – to help us explore our limitations, but it’s sometimes referred to as the place of wisdom (that’s a lovely reframe for depression) which is why for me, it is like another safe place.  

I realised I needed to engage someone else to help with the flat tyre as I couldn’t sort it myself. I didn’t want to disturb the learning of anyone else on the course and I didn’t want to miss out myself. After a few moments to settle myself, I rang a local garage who agreed to sort the tyre at 5 pm when the course finished and to tow my car from the car park. 

My “bargaining” was an attempt to recover some of the other things that were important to me. I shared my feelings about what had happened with the group and that enabled everyone, including me, to learn more about this process as well as feeling that I was making a contribution. One of the course participants offered to give me a lift at the end of the day. My vulnerability with new people and my accepting of help promoted friendship, and my ability to persuade the garage to sort my tyre after they officially closed gave me back a sense of control over the situation. All of this enabled me to accept the flat tyre and not allow it to derail my learning.  

So to recap, bargaining is what we do to somehow recover an aspect of a hidden or less obvious loss associated with our main loss. Depression is the place of decision where we do our thinking, face our own limits and evaluate how we can move forward. It’s probably worth adding at this point that our bargaining style (passive, passive aggressive, aggressive, assertive) is relevant here as sometimes we can bargain ineffectively because we have used an unhelpful style. For example, if I had been aggressive in my tone with the man from the local garage, I don’t think he would have been so willing to put himself out for me. 

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