Everyone knows what it is like to have a hangnail: no matter how hard you try to ignore it, all you want to do is get rid of it. So you pick or pull or find nail clippers to get the job done. It might hurt, but once it is gone, you feel a tremendous sense of relief. Only once it is no longer dangling, catching on your clothes, and being a nuisance can you get on with the more important aspects of your day.
Negativity is just like that hangnail. It pierces your consciousness, inflames your mind, and consumes your thoughts. How many times have you caught yourself laying in bed after being hurt or angered and continuously processing it in your mind? I have one-sided arguments with myself frequently. This week, for example, I had an argument about once every hour as I went through what I can honestly say was the worst week I’ve had the misfortune of enjoying.
I’m not going to go into lengthy details, but here was the gist of my Thanksgiving week: an awful cold resulting in a cough comparable to strep, a slide-out on the highway, hearing from the Golfer after 3 months of silence, miscommunication issues, waking up to a flat tire, my roommate’s boyfriend spending the night in the ER after having a seizure at our apartment, hearing my best friend broken-hearted and on edge, and ultimately finding out a dear friend tragically lost her life to Lake Michigan at the crushing age of 24. All of this in a 7-day span; to say it’s been the week from hell would be an understatement.
It became quite the battle to clear my mind enough to simply remember to breathe. As I sit here writing this tonight, my heart remains heavy with sadness and pain, but I’ve reached the point where I have begun to tell myself that things happen everyday, and not everything can be peachy and bright 24/7. I’m fighting the negative thoughts with positive ones; I’m smiling through the pain.
So, there’s the key point of this post: Negative situations happen all the time. We can’t avoid them. Instead of dwelling on these thoughts, though, it is important remain positive. Learning how to stay positive in negative situations is something I’ve found to be invaluable in leading a healthy, productive lifestyle. So next time you are angered, or hurt, or tragedy strikes, here are 5 ways I’ve learned to achieve a positive outlook on life even when life seems to be digressing fast:
Realize you can find opportunities in negative situations.
I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche that every cloud has a silver lining, right? Well, guess what, it’s true! Negative situations are put into our lives to test us and to strengthen us. Sometimes they don’t make sense — not a single lick — but somehow, in retrospect of every single “bad thing” that has happened in my life, there was something good to come from it.
The best way to find these types of opportunities is to MAKE them. In example, take the focus away from yourself and do something nice for someone else. Or actively look for a positive tone in your thoughts when considering the situation. It sounds difficult, and it can be, but in the long run it is a great stress-reliever.
The hardest part of my Hell Week was the loss of Brandi. Death is never an easy thing to understand, but top that with such a tragedy and you’re stuck wondering, “Why?” It is incredible, though, even in my grief that I can smile at her passing. Brandi was a crusader for the Right for Life. She touched a lot of lives during her time on this earth, but upon her death, her story has found its way into the lives of thousands of people. Thousands who may never have met her. Thousands who may have been touched by the power of such a young woman and her fight for Life. It warms my heart knowing that, even when she is no longer physically in this world, her spirit has carried such a powerful message to the community grieving her death.
Have or find a positive support group.
No matter the situation, it is necessary to realize that you cannot please everyone. In fact, no one can! Once you come to this conclusion, you relieve yourself from a lot of unnecessary burden so that you can focus on the people with whom you can positively interact. Encouragement is a key factor when looking to move from negativity to positivity.
So it is crucial to have a positive support group to help one another through difficult times. Surrounding yourself with positivity will help you stay positive in a negative situation. Whether it be family or friends, lean on someone for support and encouragement. It’s a lot easier to talk to people who can put things into perspective and won’t feed your negative thinking through constructive feedback.
Remember: You might be strong enough to weather a storm on your own, but when you have a safety net cast out to you, why not grab hold for the extra assistance? Fighting the waves gets tiring after all.
Express what you are grateful for.
Even in the worst of times, each one of us still have things in our lives for which we can be grateful. Be thankful! Practice gratitude and openly voice your blessings. Not only will this provide you peace at the time of negativity, but it will also give you fuel the next time a bad situation enters your life. Actively acknowledging what you are grateful for will help you have a thankful mind and heart, even when bad things happen.
For me, I am most grateful for the people in my life when negative situations arise. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be granted loving parents and friends who stand behind me when the times get tough. However, apart from people, I am blessed with a striving faith community, beautiful area to live, and abilities to push through in any situation. I have something to be thankful for everyday and that is a huge shield against any negativity marching my direction.
Take time to exercise your body and mind.
Exercise for your body is good in so many ways Not only does it release natural endorphins to make you feel happier, but it relieves stress and betters your body which can boost self-esteem. I highly recommend yoga to learn to focus and meditate your mind. However, any sort of exercise is ideal.
Exercising your mind is just as important as working out your body though. If you’re like me, then you are the type of person to continually beat yourself up mentally and constantly question your own actions. You need to retrain your brain to stop thinking in that way. It only makes sense that the more negatively you talk to yourself, the more negativity will become a part of you. When my mind starts turning against me, my practice has been to take those items I’m grateful for above and think of those instead. Somehow, this has become a natural occurrence for me and I’m thankful! My brain automatically — once it’s gotten over the initial shock of pain or sadness — works to turn a negative thought into a positive.
One easy way to do this is to take one negative statement that has been pulsing through your mind and make it a positive one. When I walked out to my car to find the flat tire, my initial thoughts were: Now I’m going to be late for work., How much is this going to cost?, and Why of all the weeks did this happen today? However, once I walked away and cooled off a bit, my mind automatically changed its tune. Instead of negativity, I began to recite these statements: Now I’ll know how to handle similar situations in the future., At least the leak is happening in the tread and not the sidewall (way less expensive!)., and Thankfully I was home and not driving when I found out! It is all about changing your tune that will ultimately impact your outlook.
Don’t play the victim, take responsibility of your life.
No one but yourself has the choice to make things happen. If you feel stuck in a negative situation, move. Whether that be figuratively or literally. Too many people are resistant to change, but change happens with or without our permission. So when you begin to accept that changes are a part of life, you also are training your mind to relax and be more accepting at all things life throws at you.
A great example I recently saw about changes in life is this: consider a bad job situation. You can accept the situation as it is and work to make it better, or you can take the opportunity to make a change for yourself and apply for that job you truly want. Either way, you’re taking reign over your own life in the face of negativity.
At the end of the day, you control your life. If you make a mistake, admit it. If you were hurt by someone, realize your negativity is only hurting yourself, not the wrongdoer. Look at negative situations as your training sessions through Life. Realize that your life is in your own hands and you cannot keep playing the victim card when everyone is going through their own troubles.
So, to put things simply, with the power of positive thinking, you can learn to put negative situations in perspective and continue to deal with every bad circumstance that arises. My week may have been one of the worst in my own personal history, but knowing and practicing how to stay positive wouldn’t allow tragedy to destroy me.
I’m shaken, but not crushed.
To quote one of my favorite characters, Albus Dumbledore, “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Do not let the dark thoughts and negative situations in life overwhelm your light. Push forward and keep on living, because there are so many beautiful reasons to be happy.