“How are you always so positive?”
It was a question one of my followers asked when I did a little “Ask Me Anything” recently on Instagram Stories.
I didn’t answer it right away because it took me a moment to think on… especially because in the past I never would have used to call myself a naturally “positive” person. And honestly, still, it doesn’t always come naturally. I’ve had to cultivate it, and still work toward that daily!
In fact, nearly a decade ago and had a sticky note on my wall every day that reminded me to aim for “DREAMING NOT DREADING.” Not because I was always a downer, but moreso because my anxiety can take situations from zero to 60 thousand in 2 seconds flat, meaning I skip the “what could be” dreaming stage and jump straight to the “what if” dreading stage. It still happens sometimes in my worst moments, but my mindset has shifted over the years significantly.
I decided I’d mull on how to answer that question properly… come back to it when I felt more… naturally positive and had a leg to stand on. You know, when I was perfectly positive in every way.
And then the next day I got an email in my inbox asking if I’d be willing to share how I remain so positive & cheerful in the midst of hard seasons. And finally, one more Instagram direct message asking for tips…
Well… I thought, apparently it’s time… Give the people what they want… even if you don’t always feel “worthy” for the job. And then I took a step back in realizing just how FAR I’ve come since those dreadful days, and how much I would have appreciated tips in those moments of dread (and will appreciate them when they inevitably sneak attack back in).
It’s taken time & hard work. And anyone who battles anxiety knows that sometimes simply nothing can be done except praying & waiting & talking it out with a trusted professional/friend/family member, but in the moments when even that feels fruitless, I’ve learned to cultivate a positive mindset & help flip the script.
So today, by request from you all, I’m sharing a bit about how to stay positive during tough times, & to start truly dreaming instead of dreading!
And before I go too much further, know that this is all from my personal experience, and I’m in no way a professional. However, these are a few things that have worked for me to cultivate a positive mindset daily and battle negativity in difficult seasons. With that being said, seeking professional help is incredibly valuable and sometimes necessary to take a step in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if needed.
Whatever gives you mental clarity & breathing room, go there. It looks different for everyone! But a space to process my day, week, month… life… is crucial in offering perspective and lending positivity.
For me, praying, reading my devotional (I love this one!) & the Bible, and journaling every morning gives me a space to get all the negativity out & release the control I just simply do not have. For the past 9 years, prayer & intentional conversation with Jesus truly has made all the difference in my ability to channel positivity and trust in all situations. And even as recently as yesterday morning, I was reminded in a daily Proverbs 31 email that pops into my inbox (highly recommend!) of John 10:10: “The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” Processing through the moments the thief takes hold, calling attention to that (not today, Satan!), and then shifting my perspective recognizing that Jesus gives us the opportunity to live an abundant life regardless of circumstances is key for me. “You can live it abundantly with joy based on Christ alone or let life pass you by as you allow problems, disappointments or drudgery to steal your zest for living.” – Tracie Miles for Proverbs 31. Regardless of if you are a person of faith or not, I think we can all agree we don’t want anyone/thing stealing our zest, amIright?
Additionally, exercise has been a gamechanger in my ability to release stress & negativity – from a good, sweaty yoga session, to a muscle boosting barre class, even to a walk down the street with Sophie, giving my body and mindset what it needs every day and fueling with quality, healthy food always does the trick. Also, in the moments of silence & stillness, I get so much clarity. Finally, there is nothing better than finishing off the day with a good ole’ fashioned kitchen therapy. Whisking & chopping & mixing works wonders to get my mind straight & have a little chat with myself, process the negativity, and then gorge on chocolate chip cookies.
What is your space? None of those may do it for you, but find what does: hiking, nature, getting lost in a book, a good cup of coffee. Find a place you can process, and let it all go.
Community makes all the difference. For positivity to take root, I believe you need three types of people in your “circle.”
1. The people who “get it” – those who are or have been in your shoes & know what it feels like to be walking the path you are.
2. The people who have never been there but will lend an ear, shoulder, or tissue in a moments notice (like hour long grocery store phone cry sessions… not that I know from experience or anything).
3. The people who have zero connection whatsoever to your difficult situation other than you, but support you wholeheartedly & will love you well & feed you ice cream. Or… tell you that it’s just plain not a big deal and to get over it.
Having these 3 types of people to lift you up, speak life into you, and tell you when it’s time to move on makes the positive mindset easier. Plus, for verbal processors like me, sometimes you just need a human brain to hear you out, help you find the silver lining, and seek joy!
Tough seasons are truly just tough sometimes… no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But even in those moments, I aim to find the silver lining. The silver lining doesn’t even have to relate to the tough situation. In fact, sometimes getting your mind OFF of the tough situation is the best thing you can do. Finding something positive in my life allows me to focus on something outside of whatever I’m tackling in the moment, and cultivate gratitude & joy even in the darkest moments. And if you’re not necessarily experiencing a super difficult time… but rather, just an annoyance or frustration, the silver lining can shift the perspective from negative town to… “hey… it really could be worse.” However you process, I recommend journaling or documenting the silver lining moments to look back on as a reminder of just how good you have it, regardless of tough times!
In a recent conversation with a few friends at our Girl’s Business Retreat, the amazing Christina Scalera: called me out on some serious negative self talk in a moment of vulnerability, and offered up an amazing tip I’ve been putting to use in the recent days while “what’s next?!” anxiety has been sneaking in. Instead of “I don’t want to xyz” she challenged me to flip the script. To eliminate the negativity from the sentence, and instead cultivate a mindset of what I DO want to see come to fruition. “I want to xyz” – and here are the steps I’m going to take to work toward that. It sets the tone for a positive opportunity to pursue instead of a negative doom & gloom. And I’ve already seen it play a role in shifting my mindset for the upcoming year as I transition to motherhood & being a mamapreneur! Because, while yes, this is the most exciting time in our lives yet and we couldn’t be more grateful, it’s also super darn intimidating sometimes! Any other mamas/mamas-t0-be feel me?!
And finally, take some action, friend. Don’t sit around and wait for things to change. Even if you’re unable to change the particular tough situation yourself, take action in a way that makes you feel productive and like you’re living a full life, despite your circumstances. While hoping & praying for a baby over the past year & struggling with infertility with very few answers, I found that taking action to live the healthiest, most abundant life possible in that particular season allowed me to see the joys of our days, despite what felt like it was “missing.” A bit more encouragement on that here! Take care of yourself, pursue what you feel called to, and know that you are not defined your circumstances, and you’re worthy of a beautiful life. Negativity & demeaning self-talk have no place in your home & mental space, so take some action to clear your head & do what you can to pursue joy & positivity every day! In fact, during a particular tough season where one conversation dominated most of our at-home time… we called attention to that, recognized that ain’t nobody got time to waste precious breathe on that kind of negativity, and determined it was no longer a welcome conversation in our house. Since then, it’s become nearly a joke when we bring it up… giving it the frustration it’s due, but then moving along to much more fulfilling & exciting conversations.
My recommendation? Make a list of 3 things you could do today to choose positivity & fulfillment, and pursue them one by one. It may take some time to see those actions reap rewards & results, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel as though you’re at least doing something to shift the tide & perspective… and seeing results in one area of your life can certainly create a positive feedback loop for others!
So, there you have it, friends… for all of you who think I’m just naturally a Positive Patsy, know that sometimes it takes work & daily intentions to pursue positivity. It’s my hope & prayer that these tips & reminders can help you if you’d identify more with Negative Nancy on a daily basis and if you’re battling a difficult season. Cheering you on & sending you all the positivity in the world!
Tell me: how do you pursue positivity? Is there a particular something that’s helped you during difficult or frustrating seasons? Comment below to share your wisdom!