Negativity exists in our lives. There is no way around it. No matter how hard you try to live in the moment, focus on positivity, or practice being grateful every day, you will still experience times of negative emotions in your life. But this can be a good thing. Negative emotions signal that you need to make a change in your life. Whether it is stress, anger, fear, jealously, resentment, or any other negative emotion, the point of them all is to warn you that something needs to change.
But it is how you deal with these signals that is important. Do you respond with more negativity, try to ignore the problem and hope it goes away, or take positive action to eliminate the problem? No prizes for guessing which one is best for you.
Responding to negative emotions with negativity is just plain bad news but it is often what our default response is. When something occurs that makes us angry we choose to react with that anger, lashing out without thinking first. Negative actions (or reactions) just attract more negativity into our lives and the end result is that we create an even worse situation than we started with. Negative actions = negative life.
Ignoring, or running away from, the problem is no better. When we are presented with a negative situation and we choose to withdraw and hide from it then we are giving that negativity room to grow. And just like how super-bugs develop in our bodies, when we give negative emotions excess room we encourage them to prosper. Therefore, inaction is never the solution.
The only real answer is to respond to negativity with positive actions and here is how to do it:
Acknowledge That the Negativity Is A Sign
The first thing you need to do is actually sit down and acknowledge that you are in a negative space. Maybe you've just been dumped and are feeling sad, or maybe you are stressed out and resenting your job. It is OK to feel this way. In fact, it's normal!
Sometimes bad things happen that impact our lives in negative ways. The oft-used phrase "shit happens" nails it on the head. Shit really does happen, and it is fine to experience some negative emotions when it does. The important part is what you choose to do next.
Once you have accepted your negative emotions you need to acknowledge that they are a sign that something needs to change. Do not ignore them. You are feeling that way for a reason. It is time to make some positive changes!
Figure Out What Action Is Required
Now that you are at one with the idea that some change is required in your life you need to figure out what that actual change is. What are your emotions telling you to do. It's normally pretty obvious.
Stressed in your job? Find a new one. Hating your relationship? End it. Bored with life? Sell everything and take a holiday.
Ok it might not be that simple but I can assure you that it is pretty simple. You can go a little deeper by assessing exactly what is negative about your current situation. Try to break it down to the smallest possible level.
For example, once you start doing this you might realise that your job really isn't that stressful normally but it is just this one project that is killing you. So now you know that you only need to fix your current workload and you actually don't need to quit your job, sell your things, and go live in a cave as a hermit. Phew.
This is the hard part. Acknowledging the negativity and figuring out what action is required is easy most of the time. Actually doing something about it is where most people will encounter trouble.
The biggest blocker to taking action is a fear of change. People are often scared of change because they do not know exactly what is going to happen once the change occurs. Well I've got news for you - the future is constantly changing and you will never ever know exactly what is going to happen. Never!
The very definition of the future means that it a step forward in time which means that things have changed. Time has progressed and billions of actions have taken place. And this occurs every second! You cannot stop the change process but you can make sure that in your life you are the one in control of the changes.
Inaction and indecision are common symptoms of a fear of change (and fear of failure/success). By not taking action you let everyone else in the world decide what will happen for your life. You give away your power and become helpless. But if you choose to be decisive and start taking action you begin creating the changes that you want instead of being inundated by the changes that everyone else wants.
You wont get it right first time but you will learn a hell of a lot along the way. Maybe the first change you made was not enough. Maybe you really did hate your job after all and just fixing that one project didn't help. So you readjust. You take stock again, assess the situation, and make another change. Another positive change that is.
Or maybe the first change you made was too drastic and you realise that the original situation was better than the one you are in now. That's fine too. Just readjust and try again until you get it right and find a place where you feel happy, excited, and passionate. Remember that the process is cyclical.
The process is also endless which sounds scary but it isn't. It is endless because as your life changes so will your experiences, your goals, and your emotions. What you want (or think you want) in the future will be different to what you want now. But you can only act on the information you have in the current moment, so as long as you keep adjusting as your life goes on you will experience more happiness and positivity, and much less of that dreaded n-word.
Summary (Cheat sheet)
For those less inclined to read longer articles I will play nice and include a (very) simplified summary. But you really should read the whole thing. I promise it's worth it. :)
- Accept your negative emotions are valid.
- Acknowledge them as a signal for change.
- Figure out exactly what the problem is.
- Make a positive change. Make any positive change. Just change something!
- Continually readjust until you hit your target.
That's it! Get out there and start making positive changes in your life!