So you’ve decided to cut the toxicity and stop seeing the negatives; you want to reap the rewards that positivity can bring: productivity, confidence, a better life. YES! I’m so excited for you! This is a decision you will never regret. But the decision is only half the battle. Navigating positivity can be difficult at first, and I’ve noticed there are a few common mistakes that limit progress significantly. Positivity isn’t all airy-dreamy “I love flowers! Clouds are nice! The world is great!” No. Positivity takes real self-scrutiny. It is an undoing of toxic, damaging habits and mindsets that takes commitment and hard work.
If you are making these mistakes, don’t worry! I did too. You are certainly not alone. The beautiful thing about making positivity ‘mistakes’ is that it’s a great chance to put your positivity to the test! You can either take it in your stride and acknowledge that you’ve learned some valuable lessons through the mistakes… or you can get upset, feel discouraged, maybe even give up trying. I wonder which scenario you want to be?
Are you ready? Here are some of the most common mistakes I’ve seen.
1. Failing To Take Responsibility
The most colossal mistake! The majority of negativity stems directly from a person’s inability to take responsibility for themselves. The most negative people I have known are constantly blaming everyone and everything for their problems, using setbacks as an excuse to give up or not try. They focus on blaming instead of finding solutions for the issue at hand. They also tend to act as though they are the only people in the world with problems, that the rain or unsupportive parents or their most recent break up are situations unique wholly to them. Positive people’s lives aren’t devoid of problems: we just put our energy into finding our way around them! My advice? Get over yourself, realise it doesn’t matter whose fault it is & take some responsibility!
2. Believing Complaining Makes Things Better
Does this one strike you as being strange? It does to me, but it’s really common. I’ve had people come directly to me, saying they want to be more positive. Hooray! We celebrate! I encourage! …And then they promptly use me as an outlet to throw every single little petty complaint and problem at. I think it’s a result of the age-old saying “get it off your chest, you’ll feel better”. But I disagree with this advice. For big, huge, horrible things that have happened, talking about it can really, really help. But you do yourself zero favours dwelling on every petty, inane annoyance and problem that crosses your path. The second you have a problem, you should shift your mindset immediately to “how can I fix this?”. Not “whose fault is this?” or “this makes me feel bad and negative”. Be pro-active. Don’t dump your problems on people unless you’ve already thought of a solution or are looking for help finding one. I LOVE being a cheerleader, I DON’T love being a problem dumpsite.
3. Not Understanding What Positivity Will Bring
It will bring confidence and self-assurance. It will bring productivity. You will stop feeling rotten and judgemental. A lot of people try to be more positive but haven’t really outlined why they’re trying. What are the things you have problems with? Complaining? Getting angry over little things? Feeling easily discouraged? Are you sitting around waiting for other people to support or care about you? Do you put things off because it’s not the ‘perfect’ time to start? Maybe you aren’t being the best friend, partner, parent, co-worker, or boss that you could be? There are lots of ways negativity holds people back, but if you don’t know what your problem areas are, how are you going to fix them?
4. Not Understanding What Positivity Won’t Bring
Positivity doesn’t magically wash away all your problems. Those things that annoy you? They’re still going to exist. But positivity is about slowly shifting your mindset so that life’s little annoyances won’t bother you anymore. By committing to a positive mindset, you focus on what you can do despite annoyances, roadblocks, and challenges. Eventually you will get to a point where it doesn’t even cross your mind to get annoyed at and complain about things that used to consume you. Bad drivers, slow walkers, line-cutters, people misunderstanding you… you’ll be able to take it in your stride and, most importantly, let go. I hear the complaints people make about the little inconveniences that we all experience, and can’t help but think “who cares?” Either turn it into a funny story to laugh about or get over it.
5. Thinking It Will Happen Overnight
It won’t. And putting that much pressure on yourself to literally re-wire your brain’s knee-jerk reactions to life will only end in disappointment. It takes time. It takes commitment. It takes forgiveness. It takes intention. There will be ups and downs. Mistakes. Triumphs. The transition isn’t always smooth, sometimes your frustrations will only build up while you’re figuring out new ways to deal with them, and come exploding out at the worst times. It’s highly personal, highly intimate, but worth every single second. Be patient. Be gentle. If you’re trying you’ve already won half the battle: don’t forget that.
So let’s work on self-awareness! 7 ways to start start feeling positive has practical actions you can take in order to begin shifting to a more positive mindset, and checking that you aren’t making these mistakes too often will ensure you aren’t using counter-productive methods.
I hope to see you back here next week for more of the positivity series!