“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ~Winston Churchill
The stories we tell ourselves can implicitly limit our possibilities. Great examples of these narratives can be found here: https://bit.ly/2KomABW.
On the flip side, if you tell yourself a hopeful story, it can allow you to take risks, seize opportunities, learn from your mistakes, and be your best self.
Luckily for me, I am a naturally optimistic person. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t faced my fair share of challenges. I have faced situations in the recent past that made it very difficult for me to maintain my sunny disposition.
Even when things are difficult, I know that being positive—and striving to make the best of whatever situation I’m in—really does make even the most challenging situations easier to bear.
And, the good news is that you can cultivate optimism to find your way out of seemingly hopeless situations. When you harness the power of positivity, it has an amazing impact on your life. It makes every moment worth experiencing and every goal worth shooting for.
So, how can you start silencing your inner critic and cultivating a more hopeful outlook?
Here are some strategies to practice positivity:
Gain Awareness. If you want to engage in more positive thinking, identify the areas of your life that you usually think negatively about. Periodically during the day, stop and evaluate what you're thinking.
Be a spin doctor. A simple semantic tweak can really change your outlook. Replace: “I am so stupid; I always forget to send attachments with emails,” with “Man, I felt really stupid when I forgot the attachments to that email.” This semantic shift reminds you that this feeling is a moment in time – not who you are.
Stick to the facts. When you are really down on yourself, reach for neutral facts. Replace: “I’m a terrible writer” with “My paper had a lot of grammatical errors. I need to pay extra attention to proof-reading.” Naming the facts puts you in a growth mindset and allows you to identify choices for how to move forward.
Talk to yourself like a friend. Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to anyone else. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself. If you wouldn’t berate your friend for running late, give yourself the same grace.
Embrace “Good Enough.” Stop beating yourself up because every piece of work product isn’t perfect. Done beats perfect every time. Sometimes, a minimally viable product is perfectly acceptable. So relax a little.
Phone a Friend. Shame only works if we keep it secret, Brene Brown says. "So if I get in the car after a party and thought I said something stupid, I pick up the phone and say, 'OK, I'm in a total shame downward spiral -- here's what happened.'" She laughs. And, your chest can finally release!
Be Your Own Biggest Fan. List out everything you’ve accomplished to date. Write a letter to yourself about your tenacity. Write an advertisement for yourself. Record a video telling your future (or current) husband why you are THE ONE. When you force yourself to focus on your strengths, you might give yourself some grace on your weaknesses. The things you’re proud of - those are all you.
I encourage you to start noticing how you speak to yourself and the stories that you’re telling yourself, so you can start shifting the narrative. I believe that you are not a mistake - and talking down to yourself about who you are (fat, malnourished, assertive, meek, ambitious, complacent) does a disservice to yourself and the Creator who made you. Only you can rewrite the narrative in your head. Only you have the power to change your life. Use it.
Remember anything or anyone who doesn’t LIGHT YOU UP is too small for you,
Career Coach + Strategist