Are you finding it difficult to stay positive when everyone around you is so negative?
Lately I’ve received several questions around this topic, mainly through my social media outlets. And I can understand why. I imagine some of you on the other side of my relentlessly positive posts rolling your eyes and thinking, “Can this girl really be this positive, all the time?” ?
“Is her life as perfect as she presents it?”
Well, yes (and no).
Yes, I consider myself a very positive, “glass half full” person.
But no, my life is not perfect! And I encounter negative situations, or opportunities to BE negative, probably as much as you do.
The difference you may be sensing is in how and where I have chosen to focus my attention…and the energy I try to put out into the world, regardless of what’s going on around me.
It’s not always easy. But with practice it has gotten easier…to the point that some days it’s automatic, without even feeling like I’m trying.
And that feels damn good! Especially when I know how reactive I used to be to everything and anything going on around me!
That’s the beauty of mindset work. It gives you something different to focus on and develop.
If you want to practice staying positive when everyone or everything around you seems so negative, here are my top 5 strategies for doing so. It’s a longer read, but well worth it!
1. It’s Not You, It’s Them
Hold up. Wait a minute. Before you go getting all…”See, I knew it wasn’t me!” let me explain.
I don’t mean it’s their fault, not yours. Sorry.
What I mean is, how other people behave has nothing to do with you. Even when they are talking to you or about you.
Remember, every person is dealing with her own emotions, insecurities, struggles, and point of view. And two people (no matter how close) are never going to be on the same page all of the time.
So why’s that matter?
It matters because it lets you off the hook from getting so damn offended.
Listen, I’m the first person to admit that I can sometimes be defensive when my feelings are hurt or I feel misunderstood. It’s a natural human reaction.
But what I’ve learned, and what I’ve been emotionally rewarded for practicing, is that any time I take someone else’s words or behavior personally, I just make things harder for myself.
And I don’t want to make things harder for myself, or on myself.
So (for the most part) I’ve learned how to let things just roll off my chest – harsh words, insults, outbursts, bad moods, unexpected reactions, misunderstandings, hurt feelings, etc.
Because remember, anything and everything someone says and does, even how they react towards you or around you, has everything to do with them and nothing to do with you!
This also means that everything YOU say and do, and how YOU react or don’t react has everything to do with you, and nothing to do with them.
Think about that for a moment…
Which takes us to my second strategy.
2. Take responsibility
So, if everything you say and do, and how you react or don’t react has everything to do with you, not them…well, it’s only fair to say that you must begin taking full responsibility for your own positivity, as well as your own negativity, which is what you’re doing right now by reading this article.
Look, I know how easy it is to blame other people for our circumstances and our bad mood.
If only he or she didn’t do this or that…or say those things..or be so damn annoying. Well, then I wouldn’t be so pissy! Then I could be my positive cheerful self.
Listen to yourself.
What you’re saying is that other people – your coworkers, the person who cut you off in traffic, your spouse (especially your spouse), your kids, your parents, that dumb ass newscaster – have ultimate CONTROL over you.
Yup! that’s what you’re saying. And I KNOW you don’t believe that, or want that.
The thing is, most of the time we don’t even realize we are doing it, but we are. When we allow outside circumstances or people to control our mood or level of happiness, we are giving away our power.
And that is why it is absolutely critical, if we want to manage our emotions and our mood, that we take full responsibility for our thoughts, words, actions and reactions, no matter the circumstance!
Take back your power
This is really about taking back your power and owning the fact that YOU get to decide your mood.
You get to decide how much or how little you are going to allow your boss’ or your spouse’s comment or mood change your entire day. I know it seems easier said than done. But it must be done.
Because think about it. If you’re only in a good mood when things are going your way, that means you’re always in a bad mood when things aren’t going your way.
And how often do things go your way? Not always, that’s for sure!
And it’s precisely when things aren’t going your way that you get to practice your power… by committing to yourself that just because something isn’t going your way, doesn’t mean you need to tuck your tail between your legs and settle into a foul or depressed mood.
You have a choice. You have the power.
3. Change your circle
There’s a saying in Spanish, “Dime con quién andas, y te diré quién eres.” Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.”
This one is pretty simple. If you’re hanging around a bunch of Debby Downers and you don’t want to be down, then stop hanging around them!
Everyone who comes into our experience serves a purpose at that point.
Perhaps this circle of friends (or family members) was what you needed at a certain time in your life, but is it now? Maybe you were even a bit of a “downer” yourself at one point, which is why you were drawn to each other.
But we all change.
And if you are evolving, so should your circle of influence.
4. Develop your armor
If you can’t change your circle completely, you’re going to have to get yourself a good set of armor.
People are going to poke you, no doubt!
That’s never going to change. But, the degree to which you are punctured or pained by that poke has a lot to do with whether or not you’ve got good armor.
Armor comes in many forms.
Having control over our mind, and practicing certain mindset changes (like those in our 1st tip) is kind of our umbrella armor, and ultimately the most important.
But under that umbrella, we can develop more specific modes of armor for individual situations.
Here are a few examples:
Before you react, slow down and breath.
This is especially useful for those of us with children. Whether you’re a stay at home mom, a working mom, or a homeschooler like me, some days it feels like our kids are poking us from every direction – not cooperating, whining, making a mess, writing on walls (thank goodness that age is behind me.)
While our kids aren’t actually “negative”, sometimes their perfectly age appropriate behavior can instigate negative emotions or reactions from us.
3 deep breaths, with super long exhales has gotten me through many mommy moments.
And this method isn’t just for kids.
Try this at work, while watching the news, while you’re in traffic, or any other situation in which you feel provoked.
I find this work wells in my marriage too. Whenever we find ourselves having a disagreement, I try to stop and take a few deep breaths
before instead of blowing up.
It really is true that laughter is the best medicine.
It’s also a wonderful way to not take ourselves so serious all the time!
When I do find myself reacting, or over reacting to being poked, I try to catch myself first by breathing, and then by laughing…at myself!
I tease myself, and remind myself (mostly out loud) that “here I go again, getting all silly, about to blow my whole mood over nothing.”
Because honestly, most of time it really is nothing worth sweating, and nothing that won’t pass.
It’s like telling your best girlfriend to “get a grip!”
This is my favorite piece of armor. Because it’s contagious!
If you start to laugh at yourself, those around you will most likely laugh too.
I also like using laughter and humor to help turn someone else’s sour mood around.
If you’re around someone who is complaining or who’s all of a sudden pissed off about something, say something funny or shocking to help break the ice or change the focus. This is a common tactic used by Tony Robbins in his famous interventions, because it works so well at disrupting the current behavior or attitude.
And don’t give up with one try. Most people can’t resist a good laugh.
My husband and I have gotten good at doing this for each other.
In the past, when he would complain about something I thought was ridiculous (like having to wait 15 minutes to be seated at a restaurant), I would then complain about how ridiculous he was being, which you can imagine only inflamed his bad attitude while at the same time putting me in a bad mood.
What a waste of time!
Nowadays when something like that comes up, I take a deep breath, and I tickle him! No joke. I go right for that side belly.
In fact, I did this just a couple weeks ago at the airport. He was annoyed for at first, but in less than 20 seconds he was putty in my hands. And even though he didn’t thank me out loud, I knew he appreciated the distraction.
On the flip side, when I get too intense (insert serious face) and start lecturing from my soapbox, he’ll start to mock my intensity by making overly exaggerated facial expressions.
Most of the time I can’t resist laughing, no matter how hard I try. And even in most serious of moods, when this doesn’t make me laugh (I’m good at the stoic face), it at least interrupts my flow and prevents us from sliding down a slippery slope.
I personally always appreciate the interruption. And when he’s not looking, I let that smile slip.
Finally, if you can’t bring yourself to breath through it, or find humor in the situation, then simply remove yourself from the situation.
Walking away serves two purposes – it instantly negates the negativity by changing your environment, and it allows you space and time to cool down and reconsider your mindset.
5. See things as you WANT them to be not as they are.
“But Jessica, I can’t do that. I’m a realist. I don’t live in fantasy land!”
I hear you, and all I can say is, “Well that’s a shame.”
Because whatever you continue to see and focus your attention on, is exactly what you’ll continue to feel…and attract more of.
Sound a little too woo-woo? Maybe. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true.
Think about it.
Seriously, right now, think about that one thing that’s been putting you in a bad mood lately. That one person or group of people, or whatever that person says or does to instigate or annoy you. Think about all the reasons they are wrong, and how frustrating and unreasonable he or she is. Think about how wronged you were, how unfair it is.
Now, how do you feel?
Pretty crappy? Annoyed and angry all over again, right?
See what I mean!
Now please, stop thinking about all those things, right now.
And try this…it only takes 1 minute.
Take a deep breath…exhale. Take another deep breath…exhale slower now. One more inhale….and exhale as slowly as you can.
Now smile. Go on, you can do it.
Now say something funny to yourself…tease yourself for torturing yourself. Because that is what you’re doing when you continue to replay bad thoughts and memories in your mind.
When we allow what’s going on around us, to take over what is going on inside us…we lose. We lose control of ourselves, we lose our peace of mind, we lose our power.
And that is what I want you to get from this article – that being in control of your feelings, thoughts, and reactions is about owning your power.
You are powerful beyond belief!
So now I’d like to hear from you. Do you think any of these strategies might help you handle negativity better? Do you have any strategies of your own? Please share in the comments. I love to see what others are doing, and I reply to every comment and email.
Finally, if you like this post, check out my article on How to Protect Yourself from Negative Energy