Remaining Positive When It Feels Like Negativity Surrounds You Everywhere
We are living in a tumultuous time. Some days it feels that you are constantly confronted with someone’s negative attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. News channels talk about growing murder rates and protests. Workplaces often are filled with people who feel trapped in jobs that are not meeting their expectations. Students at school experience bullying and mounting pressure for success. If you don’t fit into social norms, you are likely to feel ostracized. Social media…don’t even get me started. Empathy has decreased while judgement and criticism have increased. If you are someone who struggles with anxiety or a mood disorder, this feels even more exaggerated and cuts even deeper than it does for the rest of us (which already feels pretty bad). Never fear, friends, we are all in this together. Here are some ways to keep your positive mojo going.
- Do nice things for others. That whole do unto others thing… Yes, most of us feel better about ourselves when we engage in things that are good for others. Start with the simple things. Hold doors open for others. Pick up someone’s keys after they drop them. Buy someone’s coffee for them. Tell someone thank you for always being there and just being a great friend. Do at least 3 of these types of things a day. If it isn’t working, increase the dose. Do more positive things.
- Spend some time alone doing what you like to do. A bath, listening to music, reading a book, a walk, just lying on the couch with total peace and quiet. Time alone is good for the soul. It gets you away from the negative influences and helps you find center. If you are really brave, engage in some meditation or mindfulness activities. Lots of free guided ones on the internet.
- Surround yourself with things that make you feel good. Pictures of good memories, uplifting quotes, a funny joke, a keepsake from a vacation that was awesome. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but it needs to mean something to you. Also reaching out to the positive people in your life also helps in this same way. We all have that person that can laugh at most anything and doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
- Stay away from social media until you are ready to tackle it again. Even if you try to seek out positive things on social media, you will inevitably get sucked into other stuff which will ultimately lead to finding things that bring you back to that negative place.
- Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling for a certain amount of time and then move on. So, if you are angry because every time you try to do something good at work, your negative Nancy co-worker finds a way to criticize it, be angry for 20 minutes. Literally, set a timer. Prior to having these moments, create a toolkit to help you change your mood (reference some of the things above—positive quotes, positive people, keepsakes, etc.). Use the toolkit and tell yourself that time is up…now. Then, move on, I mean it. Their negativity is not worthy of your unhappiness. Repeat that to yourself. Sometimes you might have to repeat it 10 times.
- Practice empathy. Really listen to people and hear what they have to say. Even if you disagree, this doesn’t make their points and their feelings invalid. Let them know they are heard and they are more likely to extend that to you. Please note that this only works in an actual verbal conversation. Texts, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. don’t allow for this type of practice.
One last thing, when you are in those good moments, stay in the good moments. Enjoy them because they create those lasting positive feelings. There are many more suggestions from the world of positive psychology, but this is only a blog and that means that a snapshot is all we get. Please friends, keeping yourself well will help you tackle what is thrown your way. Namaste.