I was reading an interesting article today about positive people and it had provoked some interesting comments, from glass half empty people mostly. There was one comment which I thought was very interesting which was “I’m not negative, I’m realistic. You people who always look on the bright side are kidding yourselves.”.
Isn’t that interesting? How we reframe things to suit our own version of reality.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of reality, I just believe that I can change mine if I want to.
You see, you can’t affect outcomes and you can’t affect everything that might happen TO you in life (someone you love dying or getting ill, your company going into liquidation, the economy). But you CAN choose how you react to it. You can choose your thoughts and your actions.
So, What’s The Trick to Being a Glass Half Full Person?
Well, it really isn’t about affirmations or ‘positive thinking’. It isn’t about ignoring what has gone wrong and pretending it is all good. It is far, far more difficult than that.
Here’s the thing – it is easy to be positive when everything is going right isn’t it? And when something comes at you out of the blue it is also easy to be derailed, to feel negative, or depressed about it. And there are some things that will put you in that state – a death for example. However, whilst it is ok to take as long as you need to process what has happened and allow yourself to acknowledge your feelings, at SOME point you need to make a decision to get on with life again.
It is my experience that many people stay stuck in their negativity for far too long. And I know because I was one of those people. That might surprise you. People generally find me pretty positive. However, I have an Achilles heel.
If I feel I have messed up – I carry that around for far longer than I should, and in the past it would paralyse me. Literally. I could not get on with anything else, it (this huge mistake whatever I perceived that to be) would literally occupy all my waking thoughts and I would dream about it at night.
It is all programmed into us in childhood of course, and in my childhood I perceived I was not allowed to make mistakes, I had to be perfect.
In an accident, or emergency, or if someone else has made a mistake – that I am great. I am calm, collected, practical and take immediate action to sort it out.
But when I was the one making a mistake then I really took it personally and felt AWFUL for days, or weeks, even months when I was younger.
How Can You Learn To Be Positive?
For me, it didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow process of being around other people who I respected and speaking about stuff! My biggest breakthroughs have come in mastermind groups, or with my coach. I came to understand that not everyone sees the world as I do. I know that sounds obvious, and I have always known that of course, as we all do.
But what I mean is this. You tend to think that people who don’t see the world as you do are wrong, or just deal with things differently because they are different and that’s fine FOR THEM– but where I didn’t make the mental connection was with how people feel about things.
Do you understand the difference?
So – I KNEW that people thought differently – some people vote conservative some labour. Some think there is a God, and others don’t. Some people think you should go to a doctor is you’re ill, some think you should go to a homeopath. Etc.
But what I really didn’t understand was that when I felt soul searchingly bad about making a small mistake for a client for example, not everyone felt that way. Whilst I debated for way too long about whether to let go of an underperforming staff member long after everything had been tried to improve performance, other people focused on other priorities.
You see – I suddenly realised – you get to choose what you feel and what you believe to be true. And coming to the understanding that not everyone felt the same way about stuff that I did, suddenly helped the mental connection to happen which said “YOU don’t have to feel the way you do about what happened. You TOO can reframe it and give it a different meaning. You TOO can choose to feel differently next time.”
The Thing That Changed My Life Was Trust
Now I understand myself better, I know that when a mistake happens (and that will never stop because people are human and sometimes make mistakes), I WILL immediately feel bad. And that’s OK. But I don’t have to stay stuck in that feeling. I can accept that a mistake has been made and focus on putting it right (as I always would have), and then … let it go. Emotionally.
You see there is NO benefit to focusing on the negative. In fact – it’s the opposite of that. There is much harm to focusing on the negative. It can keep you stuck. For example, if someone wrongs you – a boyfriend, an employee, a supplier – you can choose to feel badly about that and hold onto that bad feeling. You can choose to not forgive or to hate even. But here’s the thing. That doesn’t harm the other person, the person that “deserves” it. That harms YOU. That emotion harms YOU. Mentally, spiritually and physically.
I believe my Dad got stomach cancer because he held on to a lot of pain and anger all his life. It was never properly expressed or processed. He never forgave. And that – literally – ate him away inside. It damaged him emotionally and I believe it damaged him physically. He was fit healthy and never drank, never smoked. My pops however, (Gramps), smoked, drank a bit, was quite over weight and lived through 2 bouts of cancer, only eventually dying of a broken heart after my Nan died. He was the most forgiving and non-critical person I knew (neither harbouring bad thoughts about others or himself).
Of course, all that could be coincidence and the glass half empty people will probably think it is. But that’s OK – because YOU GET TO CHOOSE. You choose what you believe about life. And just because you believe, it doesn’t mean you are right. But it is right for you. If it serves you. That is the caveat.
For example. If you believe there is nothing after death and that frightens you – then change your beliefs. Why not believe you live on? Because if you do – great you were right! And if you are wrong and when you are dead you’re dead – then you won’t know about it. So why choose a self-limiting or damaging belief, if a different belief would make you happier? Are you a masochist?
And so I have learnt to Trust – to believe. I guess if you believe in God you can trust him (or her). Or you can trust the universe, or yourself. But if you just focus on what you want instead of what you don’t want, and you take action towards that, and you trust/believe that you will get through it and everything will work out as it is meant to, then it will.
And when you let go of that emotional burden – fear, guilt, unworthiness, blame and replace it with hope and trust and self-love – well you would be amazed at what happens.