Have you ever poured paint or bleach into a bucket of water?
That’s how negativity affects our day-to-day lives. When we ruminate on situations or events that seem to be going poorly, and believe that circumstances will never improve, that negativity starts to spread and colour our entire perspective.
We may once have been full of hope and enthusiasm, but now everything feels like such a mess!
While you’re in the grasp of strong negative emotions, it may seem difficult to build any resilience to life’s less pleasurable experiences. It’s possible, though, and that’s a thought you should bear in mind if find that you wake every day with too many negative thoughts.
How come some people give up and cry into a bottle, while others just pick themselves up, dust themselves off and carry on as if nothing happened?
They’re called coping skills and anyone can develop them.
Flexibility and adaptation are undoubtedly two outlooks that help people recover from bad situations. Whereas someone who feels entrenched in negative feelings finds it harder to remove themselves from those feelings and change direction, others recognize that the thing that’s given the most attention grows.
In a way, emotions can feel like quicksand.
When we observe negative events in our lives as flexible short-term situations, we position ourselves to let the situations go more quickly and move on.
Let’s imagine someone who sees negative events as a fixed point in space and time (pardon the sci-fi speak but this does make sense). To them, the disappointment and discouragement they feel is a fixed point in their life. It’s always there. Nothing will ever alter that reality – it’s set and permanent.
On the flip side, those who view situations as temporary will be more likely to see that situation as a speed bump in their life’s rear-view mirror.
So what can you do to help adopt a more adaptive outlook?
Try seeing new challenges as crayons that can be laid side by side. Don’t dwell on the fact that you didn’t manage to quit smoking today, just see that you smoked less and aren’t going to let a temporary setback prevent you from trying again the next day.
Just because you don’t get something done the first time doesn’t mean you won’t get it done at another point in the future.
No one writes a book, paints a portrait or drives a car the first time they attempt it. Stop attaching yourself to the idea of perfection and bravely be a work in progress instead.
Troy Media columnist Faith Wood is a novelist and professional speaker who focuses on helping groups and individuals navigate conflict, shift perceptions and improve communications. For interview requests, click here.