Imagine you lose your very first job right out of college. It wouldn’t be such a bad situation if you had not colored your dreams of career success so bright, and predicted it would happen overnight, right? Wrong. We all have the right to dream big. And when those dreams don’t materialize the way we thought they would, or should, it only means it is time to do things a little differently, not stop altogether. Many of us dreamed of what our lives would be like after we got rid of those caps and gowns. Personally, I was going to be transformed into a suit-wearing, stiletto-sporting professional woman with a corner office. I did not think of the possible bumps along the way. I was so ill-prepared for failure that when failure came knocking the first time, it caught me completely off guard. As I walked out of the office building that had fueled my dreams for the last year and a half, my eyes welled up with tears. I was thinking about the life I believed I had lost. As it turned out, having to leave that job was the best thing to ever happen to me. It caused me to rethink my life. But, in order to do that, I had to motivate myself and maintain a positive attitude even when there was no reason to be positive. With these tips, you can maintain a positive attitude and live through the negative moments too.
See the Negative as a Positive: There is always some good hidden within the bad. In order to remain calm enough to think of a way forward, we need to keep stress at bay by digging for the positive. Donald Latumahima gives some great examples of ways to see the positive in negative situations in his article, 15 Ways to see the Positive in the Negative.
Tap into Your Natural Resource: In her book, Unstoppable: 45 Powerful Stories of Perseverance and Triumph from People Just Like You, Cynthia Kersey says something that strikes me as so powerful and true. She says, “The greatest natural resource in the world is not in the earth’s waters or minerals, in the forests or grasslands. It is the spirit that resides in every unstoppable person. And the spirit of the individual benefits us all” (p. 6). Many people give up on life and their dreams because they are just living. They have not tapped into their natural resources to find that thing that keeps them going. They stop midway in the tunnel and throw their hands up in exasperation, believing that there is no end in sight. We are all living for something. It is up to each of us to find it.
See Every New Day as An Opportunity to Try Again: In the days following the loss of my job, I dreaded the morning because it was just another day for me to wallow in self-pity and be reminded that I was jobless. It was a mindset I acquired to help numb me from the knowledge that I was useless and inadequate. What I fed my mind those few days, of course, manifested in my general attitude. Soon, I was on a quick downward spiral. I had to find a way to motivate myself. In his book, Beyond Positive Thinking: A No-Nonsense Formula for Getting the Results You Want, Dr. Robert Anthony lays out how to get yourself motivated for success through changing the way we think.
Change Your Thinking: “It is a demonstrated fact of life that you and I do not behave in accordance with the reality of what we can do but in accordance with the reality of what we believe we can do. It stands to reason if we change the way we believe we can change the way we act.” (Anthony, 2007, pg. 41). If my previous job was all I believed I was good at, then I was doomed. That’s what I had trained myself to think. I never thought I could find something to do for myself – something I would actually love.
Let’s face it; many of us are stuck in the same tunnel of uncertainty, delusion and fear in which I once found myself. And though many are struggling to piece their lives back together, not everyone is equipped to handle their situations the same way. But, positive thinking in negative situations can really help you see the light at the end of that proverbial tunnel. I always knew I loved to write, but I never considered it beyond my journal entries and occasional private blogging. When I remained calm in my negative situation, I was able to see that I had a way of touching people through my writing. I had found my natural resource and it was up to me to find a way to nurture it. Once I began to do that, things just started to fall into place. I began to look forward to each new day because there was finally a reason to get out of bed every morning. I started an online publication for women which now has over a thousand subscribers and followers.
There is surely light at the end of every tunnel. You only need to know how to grope your way through the dark and keep going until you come out on the other side. And in case you need more encouragement, remember these famous words by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”