Ever look at someone and think, “How are you so positive all the time?” This person could be facing great obstacles, have a terrible boss, are going through a divorce, or any number of misfortunate situations. But, somehow… they find the bright side of a situation.
It seems like some people are just born that way. Maybe it is their genetic makeup. I don’t know. All I can say is… I WAS NOT one of these lucky people who just saw angels the second I can out of the womb.
Do I want to be? Heck yes! There have been so many times I look at someone that is able to (somehow) find a glimmer of positivity in a situation that would have set me off into a negative spiral. I have thought to myself, “How are they not angry or upset!? I don’t get it!”
Well, now I do get it.
After entering therapy, immersing myself in many self-help reads, and devouring podcast episodes on bettering myself as a person, I have learned some tips and tricks relating to developing a positive mindset in negative situations.
Don’t let yourself believe that if you are not born as Positive Patty that you can’t change yourself. That is absolutely false and is a lie you are telling yourself.
I know this because I truly believe I have become a more positive person by learning coping skills and ways to analyze a situation.
You cannot just say “I am a positive person” or think to yourself “be more positive!” It is way deeper than that. You need to learn actionable ways to develop a positive mindset in negative situations. Basically, you train your mind. The skills you learn need to be implemented enough that they become a habit.
In turn, it becomes who you are.
So, I am going to share some of the tips and tricks I have learned (and am continuing to practice!) to develop a positive mindset in negative situations.
Ways to Develop a Positive Mindset in Negative Situations
*I do want to note that these practices are for dealing with everyday negative situations, not tragedies we face in life. For events like those, please speak with a therapist for appropriate techniques and practices.
Make a List of All the Good
One way to develop a positive mindset in negative situations is to focus on all that is going well. When we get upset about something, it is very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of negativity. We focus and obsess on the situation at hand. We dissect each part of what happened, what he/she said, what we did or didn’t do.
Overall, we stress ourselves out. But, what good is that doing you?
Instead, try this practice:
1. Give yourself a few minutes to be upset. Throw a private tantrum in the bathroom, if you need to. Set a timer. One, two… five minutes, TOPS!
2. When time is up, switch gears and imagine yourself ridding of the negativity in your mind. Yep, literally close your eyes if you need to (please don’t do this while driving!) and imagine yourself physically pushing the negative thoughts away.
3. Open your eyes. Make a list of all the good in your life right night. Now, this can be done with pen and paper, typed up, or (my favorite) out loud in a private space. I often like to do this in my car when I am alone.
You will be surprised with how many good things you can come up with that HEAVILY outweigh the negative. One situation, comment, or misfortunate event does NOT compete with all the good in your life. It is your choice weather or not you will let the bad outweigh the good. It is all a mental game.
Understand it Doesn’t Have to Do With You
This is personally one of the most useful tools that I use daily to develop a positive mindset in negative situations. I use it to deal with aggressive drivers who throw their hands up at me, with the cranky cashier, someone in power that speaks down to me, or even people closest to me in my life.
When someone is rude to you and you truly don’t feel like you deserve it, you NEED to understand one fact. It has NOTHING to do with you. Yes. I said that. You are off the hook. When people are negative towards you it says everything about them.
People who do this are projecting their own life experiences onto you. Maybe you remind them of someone they are upset with… or they have been having a terrible day. But, most certainly, they have low self-esteem.
Those who have good self-esteem don’t feel the need to bring others down to make themselves feel better. They are comfortable sharing the sunshine with those around them. When sometime isn’t kind to you, you should honestly feel bad for them. Pray for them. But, most certainly, remind yourself not to take it personally.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t address the situation, at times. But, it releases the negative burden from your shoulders and gives you a moment of clarity.
Think of A Similar Situation From the Past
I find myself using this trick a lot when I am feeling anxious about something that I truly believe is going to happen. Have you ever felt this way?…
You are looking into the future and you, FOR SURE, think something is going to go the way your mind is thinking it will. You build the moment up and up and up until you feel like you’re going to explode. You lose sleep. You might cry about it. You let it seep into every crevice of your day. Then, the moment you were dreading is here and… oh… it wasn’t that bad. It didn’t turn up any way you thought it was going to. You think to yourself… “Why did I worry about that so much?”
I do this ALL THE TIME. I build something into a mountain that ends up being the size of a crumb. Many of us tend to worry about things that usually don’t even end up happening.
A trick I have used that help massively combat this is to think of a time in the past where you were facing a similar situation or you had a similar anxious feeling. Think about how you built it up and then THE REALITY of what actually ended up happening. 9 times out of 10, the situation was way less stressful than your mind imagined.
Give yourself a break. Especially because we usually stress about things that are completely out of our control.
Vent & Discuss With the Right People
This one is way way way more important than you might think when it comes to developing a positive mindset in negative situations. It is SO important that you find the right people to chat with when you are combating negativity. Now… let me explain what I mean by the “right” people.
You want to find someone who listens to what you have to say (every last word) so you can get all your thoughts out. Not someone who constantly tries to talk over you and “fix things” right away. You also want this person to lead you to a more peaceful mindset. NOT someone who feeds into the negativity and gets you EVEN MORE fired up.
Now, if you can find one person like this, you are lucky. If you have multiple people like this in your life, seriously… go play the lottery! When you find these people, cherish them and try to be the same person back to them in similar situations.
Notice I didn’t give advice to just simply ignore the negative situation and to simple just think positive thoughts. Letting things build up inside of us not only makes us even more negative, but it can stress us out to the point of making us sick.
It is truly important to get your thoughts out. Even if that means that you share a lot of these thoughts solely with a therapist. That’s just fine.
Learn to Slow Down, Pause, & Take Control
Ever experience the negativity spiral? One thing happens. Then you either build build build the situation up into something that is not even accurate. Or, you start letting the negativity spill into the rest of your day or other parts of your life?
A key to developing a positive mindset in negative situations is to learn to get off the hamster wheel of destruction in your mind.
Try this practice:
1. Go to a room by yourself and have a seat.
2. Take a deep breath. Or 30.
3. Remove yourself from the situation and do a mini meditation where you try your best to relax and clear your thoughts for 3-5 minutes, minimum.
4. After, talk yourself down from where your feelings are heightened, either out loud or through your thoughts. Sometimes, it even helps to pretend your looking at the situation and giving advice as if the situation is happening to someone else.
Doing this practice helps remind yourself that YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR REACTIONS. No, you might not be able to control the situation you are in. But, many times our feelings and thoughts move into a negative space when we allow ourselves to react that way.
To combat this, use this practice above to become someone who sees the glass half full. Learning to pause, think, think some more, and then react puts us in a FAR better headspace.
- Related: MINDFULNESS FOR BEGINNERS
Use Positive Self-Talk & Affirmations
I saved this one for last because I feel like this piece of advice is thrown around a lot. Kind of a “duh” one. But, think about it. Are you REALLY taking this advice? Because, let me tell you, the way you speak to yourself truly impacts your life FAR more than how others speak to you.
I was listening to The Model Health Show podcast today and Shawn ended one episode with the following affirmation that stuck with me, “LIFE IS WORKING FOR ME, NOT AGAINST ME.” For me, this resonates and gave me confidence in a moment I needed it most.
Remember that every affirmation isn’t for everyone. Its like clothes shopping. You need to find the ones that accentuate who you want to be and what makes you feel best. Write them in places you will see. Put them as reminders that pop up on your phone. Say them out loud to yourself. Whatever works for you!
Remember. I am NOT a doctor. If you are going through serious negative thoughts and situations, please speak to a certified doctor. These tips work wonders for everyday minor negative situations.
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