Being a positive person isn’t always easy, but these 3 positive mental health tools can really help when it gets hard.
From a pile of stinking washing to that person at work that just knows how to ruin your day, it can sometimes feel like you’re swimming against the tide.
Whilst naturally a glass half full kinda gal, I’d be lying if I said that my outlook is always sunny. Day to day irritation aside, my biggest challenge is overcoming mental barriers, and not letting my internal worries and concerns take hold of the steering wheel.
Over time, I’ve learnt to exercise these and it’s lead to a healthier, less pessimistic look on life…
Take the god damn compliment
This is definitely a big challenge for me.
As an eternal perfectionist, it can sometimes feel like nothing is good enough because it’s not ‘just right’.
It was only when Col said in his frustration one day: ‘Why won’t you just take my compliments instead of scrunching up your nose?!’ – that I realised my mental state was causing me to not only reject every compliment I was given but also to physically react negatively to each one I received.
I started trying to say ‘thank you’ before my brain had time to kick in with some kind of critical thought. At first, it was really difficult and felt forced, but now most of the time I’m able to take the compliments and truly believe them.
Now I feel a whole lot more positive too because I’m surrounded by positive friends and family who lift me up, and instead of discarding their encouragement, I actually listen and take it on board.
Acknowledging the negative
A common misconception of being a positive person is that you don’t experience negative thoughts, which in reality, sets you up for failure from the get-go. In reality, everyone has that inner saboteur that makes you worry or feel scared. It’s inbuilt within our DNA to look for risks and actively avoid them. Self-preservation innit.
However, one of the most life-changing lessons I have learnt is to acknowledge the negative but not hold onto it.
What does this mean? Say I’m about to do a big presentation at work and I start to think about how I’m going to mess up…
I simply acknowledge the thought ‘I am feeling x way’ but then counteract this with logic, allowing me to no longer focus on the worrying thought.
For example… I am feeling x way about the presentation, but the last few presentations I did went really well, so I should focus on that instead.
I sometimes feel like that negative part of our brains can be a little unruly, grabbing hold of its hand and guiding it to a different part of your mind takes seconds but collectively over time saves a lot of dwelling on the negative.
Framing in the positive
Similar to the above, the way you frame things in your mind can have a profound effect on the way you see the world. Take another example.
You have to attend a conference for work, which means you’re going to be away from home for a few days which is a massive pain – just think of all the work you’ll need to catch up on. You’re pretty disappointed as it means you miss out on seeing your friend’s birthday. They’re all going to have an amazing time without you and you’re going to look like a bad friend who doesn’t make the time for their friends.
Pretty crap huh? When you see it like that maybe. However, if you frame it differently…
You’re attending a conference for work, which means you’re going to be away from home for a few days. This is great because you’ve got time to think and really soak up the new information you’re learning. It’s your friend’s birthday whilst you’re away, but they fully support you and your career, and you can arrange a special one on one celebration when you’re back home where you’ll be able to share all the interesting stuff you’ve learnt with your friend.
Framing things positively doesn’t always come easy, particularly when times are stressful or there are multiple things not going your way. Yet when you start to practice this way of thinking, the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.
Ultimately I’ve learnt that a positive mind is like a muscle.
If you continually practice and train when you face challenging situations, not only does your resilience improve, but your outlook on life gradually becomes a lot more positive. Tasks feel more ‘possible’. Barriers don’t feel as solid. The mind feels healthier.
You end up happier. What’s not to love?