Recently I got a wake-up call. And it wasn’t a nice one and kinda scary to admit in public. Ok here goes. I am in reality a pretty negative person. Not in my professional life, where I inspire others to see the bright side of life. Not even my public life, with friends or on social media. But at home behind closed doors, I can be, and regularly am a pessimistic, grumpy stress head. Not a great realisation. However, it is a constructive one as it’s a starting point for change.
I realised this at a recent Lammas workshop where we were talking about sacrifice and the concept that if you want to make something new in your life you have to let something go. (Or sacrifice it, just as the wheat gets cut down to become our bread and brandy) One of this year’s goals for me it to have a healthier, happier relationship with Mr T. Our communication has taken a downwards turn of late so I wanted to improve this. But as the year has gone and stress has been rising if anything my negativity and negative communication with the man I love has got worse. Definitely a glowing neon universal sign that something needs to change.
And of course, that change starts with me. In that workshop, I identified that one of the reasons I was being a snappy cow was because I had too much control and responsibility in our lives and that made me unconsciously resent Mr T (who bless him is sublimely oblivious to this fact). Secondly, I was having trouble letting go of frustrations, little niggling things, like the fact he can’t put the cardboard from a used toilet paper in the bin (WHY??), blind me to all the good and sweet things he does. So letting go was a big key to changing my negativity to positivity. But how? That’s the magic question.
Luckily one of my favourite author’s Gretchen Rubin came to my rescue in her wonderful book “The Happiness Project”. It seems Gretchen had exactly the same issue as me. Always jumping to the negative rather than the positive. In fact, it’s a common issue for many of us. To combat this Gretchen took a whole month to consciously work on her attitude, focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I love this idea, it really spoke to my structured loving mindset. So for the next four weeks, I am going to focus on my attitude.
And this is how I am going to do it:
Identify how you want to change
To not make this a sweeping declaration (a la Marshell Eriksen) I have made a plan. Firstly I have identified how I want to change :
- I want to understand my negative reactions and use that to help me turn them into positivity.
- I want to use positive language
- I want to feel less angry and frustrated
- I want to think positively even under stress
Following the Gretchen recipe, the first step is to make resolutions. The idea is to find specific areas to focus on to reach your goal. So my 4 resolutions for this month are:
- React positively
- Use good manners
- Let go of things that don’t serve me
- Find my joy
The surreal thing is that as always the universe is listening. And lo and behold the moment I set these resolutions I began to find ways to keep them.
Catch the negativity, analyze it and find a positive way to react
If you find that like me you often react negatively, the first step to change is catching yourself at it. Ask yourself why you re reacting this way and then find a way you can react positively.
As I have been writing I could hear the annoying piercing scream of the hoover my Mr T is using. Immediately my first reaction was one of frustration. The noise is too loud. I can’t concentrate. Why the heck does he have to do this now! Normally I would let this spiral on until my next interaction with Mr T and then this frustration would be thrown at the poor unsuspecting man. However, in the spirit of reacting positively, I didn’t. Instead, I took myself outside away from the noise, caught my breath. And therein remembered that we have some neon green noise cancelling headphones. So now I am sitting here comfortable in the lack of wailing noise and appreciative that my lovely man has cleaned the house and I don’t have to do it. (Note to self: Be grateful and say thank you.)
Use good manners
Now this one is lifted straight from the book. As I read I could really relate to the fact that I don’t always use good manners in the way I speak to people. Well, correction, in the way I speak to Mr T. One of the curses of a coach is that you use a lot of energy helping others to feel good and grow, which can mean you don’t have much energy left. And often I find that manifests in me being rude to Mr T. Well they do say “We hurt those we love the most” which is stupidity if ever I heard it. I didn’t want to hurt Mr T. I wanted to treat him best of all persons. So I have started to find ways I can use good manners towards him. Assuming less and asking more. Using please and thank you. Not rolling my eyes when he is annoying (one of his pet hates). Doing actions of love. Basically being nice.
If you want the world to feel nicer you can’t expect it to hand it to you on a plate if you aren’t willing to be nice too. Good manners are something we can all work on in every aspect of life. Ultimately it’s about being kind and the world is always better for a little kindness.
Let go of things that don’t serve me
Mr T is frustratingly good at this. In a situation, I recently found hella frustrating and a bad experience, Mr T simply focused on the positive things and found the same situation as a great experience. He let go of the bits that didn’t serve him and kept the bits that did. Oh to be able to do that in the blink of an eye! I seriously struggle with letting things go. Partly because I have an expectation of how things should be. And partly because it niggles inside me. So my work here is two-fold.
Firstly I need to use the five-minute rule. Give myself 5 minutes alone to be cross, frustrated, sad, whatever I feel. Then ask myself “can I do anything now?” If I can then do something. If I can’t I have to let it go. However in order to do that I have to find the positives from the challenge.
Secondly, I have to let go of my expectation of how something should play out and enjoy the moment. So what if a date night ended up being a discussion about our finances. At least we got that sorted. Simply looking for the positive here is going to help. Also letting Mr T know I have an expectation is a great way to make sure disappointment is avoided.
There are many different ways you can work on letting go of that which does not serve you. Ask Google for inspiration. As always Google knows!
Find my joy
When you are stressed it is easy to lash out at our nearest and dearest. It’s normal. But I hate it. I always feel like I am the worst version of myself when I do this. So to release the pressure I want to focus on finding my joy in the stressful times. Whether I need some time alone, to draw, to write, to have a walk, to dance, to laugh. Basically, instead of lashing out I want to find ways to make me feel good.
Gretchen had a great suggestion for this the Pollyanna week. If you haven’t seen the film or read the book, Pollyanna plays the glad game. Basically, whatever happens to her she finds a reason to be glad. Gretchen took a whole week of being glad. I used to play this game a lot as a child. As an adult, it has transpired into my golden rule, if you can learn from a situation it was a good situation. But to just be glad seems like a much simpler and joyful way.
Instead of expecting others to give us joy in the down times find ways you can lift your own spirits and connect with your joy. In times of stress connect with yourself and ask you what do I need right now? How can I feel my joy?
In essence, the recipe to turn your negative attitude into a positive one is quite simple:
- Identify how you want to change
- Make resolutions
- Find ways you can make those resolutions a reality
- Follow your plan
I hope you find this as helpful as I did writing it. How do you guys turn your negativity into a positive attitude? Let me know in the comments below.
Have an amazing weekend <3