By Jeannea Spence, M.A., PCC
“Don’t be negative.”
“Don’t focus on the downside.”
When we’re going through a stressful time, people mean well when they spew forth platitudes. However, being positive is much more than pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and writing affirmations on your mirror. And if you don’t spend some time becoming aware of the true source of the “negative” feelings and thoughts, affirmations are like icing on a mud pie. Perhaps you’re going through major transition in your life at work or in the middle of a job search – life is demanding enough without the baggage of unresolved emotions, and the longer the stress continues, the more often you hear “no” in some form or another, the more tempting it is to feel angry, resentful, and rejected. Positivity is critical for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Negativity is not. Positivity attracts; negativity repels. Using the acronym of POSITIVE, here are some strategies to help you live in
Purpose Ownership Self-Care Introspection Think Inspiration Variety Energy Management
PURPOSE: Take some time to clarify your life’s purpose. What are your core values, your vision and your mission? A personal vision and mission statement is the framework for creating a powerful life and will guide you in the decisions you make and the direction you take. An understanding of your values gives you firm bedrock upon which to stand even when the winds of uncertainty are blowing in fury around you. Use this information to set a clear Intention and create Goals and an Action Plan around that Intention. Refer to it frequently.
OWNERSHIP: The game changer is understanding that your thoughts create your feelings, which create your actions, which create your reality. Take ownership of your thoughts and question your part in what happened. In what way did I contribute to this stressful situation? What is the opportunity here? How has this made me a better person? What will I do differently from this point forward? What situations has this opened up for me? What am I potentially doing that isn’t helpful? What can I do differently?
SELF CARE: You’re busy – the good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of time and the payoff is exponentially beneficial. Get your heart rate up at least 3X a week for 30 minutes and stretch your body. Drink water and eat real food — not processed junk. Get the proper rest for your body. Spend 15 minutes a day in quiet time away from the “busy”ness of life. Turn off the TV – studies show it leads to depression and is at the very least a passive activity that in no way increases your energy. Maintain balance: learn to say “no.” And have some fun!
INTROSPECTION: Spend time journaling: short-term, focused writing benefits all types of people – reports of depressive symptoms, rumination, and general anxiety tend to drop in the weeks and months after writing about emotional upheavals. Ask yourself empowering questions like the ones above in the ownership section. Use this alone time to clarify your purpose and direction — your values, mission, and vision. Keeping a journal on a regular basis can not only help you see where you are doing things well in your life and where you might need to make adjustments, but will also remind you of your blessings. Short on time some days? Make a gratitude list.
THINK: Before you say anything —remember this acronym and ask yourself: Is it TRUE? Is it HELPFUL? Is it INSPIRING? Is it NECESSARY? Is it KIND? If it isn’t, keep it to yourself and talk it out later with your trusted advisor. Remember, negativity repels.
INSPIRATION: Even the most optimistic among us need our cups refilled from time to time. Read inspirational literature. Hang around inspiring people. Keep motivating videos as favorites in YouTube and funny cartoons in a folder. And stay away from “energy vampires” – those “Debbie Downer” types that suck the life out of you regardless of how upbeat you try to be. Your #1 priority is to preserve your own energy.
VARIETY: While most wouldn’t argue that it is indeed important to keep a daily structure, mix it up once in a while. Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” If what you’re doing isn’t working, ask others what’s working for them. Network. Volunteer at places that might likely provide job prospects and something meaty for your resume, as well as peer connections. Pick up a hobby. Read and stay current in your field.
ENERGY MANAGEMENT: Emotions are just energy-in-motion and we’ve already established that our thoughts create our emotions. So mastery in self- awareness is absolutely essential to living in “YES.” When you become aware that you are stuck in a “negative” feeling, train yourself to stop and ask, “What was I thinking?” and then reframe that thought. If you’re up for a promotion internally or in the middle of a job search, anxiety is arguably the most common feeling that people experience. Perhaps you realize you’re thinking, “I haven’t heard anything in 4 days which probably means I didn’t get the promotion. I’m such a loser.” What’s a more helpful way to think about that? “Yes, it’s true I haven’t heard from the internal recruiter in four days and I remember that four days flew by like four hours when I was hiring the new person in my department.” Then think of a way to use that energy to your benefit. You might ask yourself, “What can I do to shift this energy of anxiety? Hmmm, I think I’ll go for a run.”
Focusing on the positives even in a negative environment is critical for your physical, emotional, and spiritual help. Utilize your emotional intelligence and stay aware of what you’re thinking so that you will have a better chance of creating a positive reality.