2016 wasn’t a great year for me, but at the same time it helped me grow tremendously. It may seem – and surely is – hard at first, but if you reflect on the changes in your life, there are always lessons to be learned.
It’s important to be able to think about the personal issues, problems or stressful times in a more positive light. Countless pages dedicate their efforts to offer people ideas and strategies and this entry you see here is no exception. I just hope that my personal struggles can help you to identify what is possible through positive thinking:
1. Positive Thinking is a skill
Whatever you are thinking during a day – positive or negative – the more often you think about it, the more prominent that thought becomes over time. It becomes bigger. It takes up more space. It’s like a Thought-a-Gotchi if you will. Let’s feed it the good stuff, so it becomes your cuddly, positive companion instead of an s**t-talking abyss of hatred.
A small thing I started with when I struggle to find something positive is, writing it in my journal. Usually, the topics vary, but the layout is always the same:
- I am thankful for … (the weather, having a roof above my hand, friends, etc.)
- I wish for … (something nice in the future, grand or small.)
- I want to become … (more focused, a certain profession etc.)
- I am proud to be (fun to hang around with, honest, open and mindful, whatever you like about yourself.)
Some people need to be more positive toward themselves, others struggle thinking positively about others: Maybe the damn coworker that gets on your nerves, or the family member that won’t shut up. Or the damned cash register lady who is not greeting you, although you go to the shop for years now.
Try to write three (!) positive characteristics – without any “jokes”, irony or sarcasm – about the person you dislike or having trouble with at the moment. (These examples are actual people I know. Of course you don’t write that negative background, just to show you I do this exercise as well.)
- X is doing the best for X’s family. (Person that sometimes gets on my nerves.)
- X has a good fashion sense. (Person that hurt me deeply.)
- X has a lot of enthusiasm and tries to grow. (Person in my friend’s circle that I often find annoying.)
Over time, you’ll see that these perspectives gain momentum and take up more space in your mind and everyday life. Everything becomes easier over time. Thankfulness and empathy are key.
It’s not about denying having negative thoughts though.
- Acknowledge you have a rough time
There are many ways of running away from problems. The first one would be not to regard them as such; playing the cool kid, the steel hearted man, the tough woman. That’s not helping in the long run. I don’t recommend bathing in one’s misery either, it’s about seeing what the deal is, letting the wave of emotions break above you, you going with the flow and standing up once the water withdraws.
- One thing at a time
Oh boy, I struggle myself with this, but I can share at least some techniques that helped me.
- Have ONE focus. My focus is for instance Japanese. Everything else comes second. I make sure to have time reserved for that. Of course, I also need to clean my apartment, or do the dishes, cook and have a social life, but I’ll make sure to have at least one dedicated hour in the day.
- Dream big, write it down and then do the climb step by step.
- Have a plan where you want to be and review it daily. This takes away stress, gives perspective and if you’re doing progress, you’ll see it immediately.
- Have ONE focus. Can’t stress that enough.
- Talk with friends or interest groups about your topic, and ask those on the same level as you to evaluate your goal and strategy.
- Take your time. Managing is a skill set as well. You’ll learn over time. Don’t be a perfectionist that never succeeds because it’s not pretty enough, well enough made, etc. (Ahem … … …)
Before I was picking up Japanese again as my No.1 focus, I worked on healing after a break up. When I thought I had the bulk of it done, I shifted towards my future and not dwelling on the past. Of course, sometimes it comes back to mind, but after a while one has analyzed enough.
- Some things are just out of reach
Don’t sweat the stuff you can’t change. There are so many things in life, especially connected to other people around you where you hold no power, so focus on what YOU can do. Let go. (Let it goooooo, let it goooo, can’t hold me back anyyymooooo-o-o-o-aaaar,…. ahem…)
(Iiiiii don’t caaaaaare, …what they’re gooooing toooo saaaaay, ….)
- The toxic people
There are maybe people in your life that hold you back without realizing it. Maybe the friend who is making small remarks about your outfit, or the aunt that taunts you for your weight, or the classmate that is more a frenemy than anything. Leave them.
It’s hard. You will receive backlash, but it’s way better than clinging to people who want to tear you down so that they can feel great about themselves. Be around people who accept you, root for you and are there for you.
- Have a good self-worth
This can only be done by you for yourself. Once you kick these toxic people out from YOUR life, you can re-evaluate yourself. And by growing day by day you’ll learn self-acceptance. With that comes a certain peace of mind and the strength to work on what you think you want to improve, not need to improve. Nobody is perfect, and never will be, but you can grow nonetheless.
- Now Repeat
As mentioned before, positivity is a skill. You need to hone that sword of awesomeness daily, and over time you’ll become a – smiling – master of it.
Let me know what you do for a more positive mindset ❤