Dealing with change can feel as if it is sucking the life out of you. When things radically shift in your life, and you feel out of control, it may be the right time to check in with your attitude about that which is changing and how it affects you.
Have you been laid-off from a job suddenly, and it knocked the wind out of your sails? Did you or someone you love dearly receive a health diagnosis that caused you to reel from the blow? Perhaps, your parent or spouse took suddenly ill and you are now in the role of caregiver, upending your life and routines as you knew them.
There are many life events that can take you by surprise—or you may see them coming—yet you’re not quite prepared when it happens. How you respond will make all the difference in how you cope when it does.
What I know for sure is this: your attitude is completely within your control, meaning you get to choose how you think and feel about what is going on in your life. You could have a positive attitude that is hopeful and your behavior matches, or the opposite may be true for you and you resist change. Which is it for you?
I am sure you have noticed, people with a positive outlook seem to enjoy life more, are happier, more successful, and surround themselves with others with a similar approach to life. While those who always see the glass as half empty, are pessimistic, contentious, and judgmental. Consequently, these folks are likely to hang out with people who feed into and perpetuate the negativity.
Let’s take a look at some reasons why a positive attitude can help when dealing with change.
When Dealing with Change, Your Attitude Matters
A positive attitude is by its nature optimistic. People who are this way often say things like: There is a reason for everything. I look for the silver lining. Things get better for me when I look at them in a positive light. It is a blessing in disguise.
A shining example of someone who has lived her life with a great outlook is Heather Rausch, a recent guest on my podcast, Tips for the Transition. Neither her divorce, becoming a single mom nor dangerous brain surgery kept Heather down. Her perspective and approach to life help us to understand we have choices. She clearly demonstrates that, when dealing with change, we can let our circumstances define us or we can define our circumstances. Watch her episode, called “Persevering & Playing Full Out” and see for yourself.
What Can Happen When You Shift Your Attitude?
As a result of thinking positively when you are dealing with change, you may find some of the following is true:
- You become more creative.
- Solutions come more easily.
- Obstacles seem less impossible to overcome.
- Your energy level is higher.
- You are more motivated to accomplish the tasks at hand.
What If You Made the Shift?
If your attitude is within your control, and you chose to adjust the dial to positive, imagine how you would feel when the following things happen:
- You get the inspiration bug, and everything seems possible.
- Problems feel more like challenges, and you become the solution-finder, without dwelling on the obstacle.
- Doors begin to open, and you see potential opportunities where they didn’t exist before.
- Those beliefs and core values you may have compromised in the past, come back to the forefront and become your guiding beacon which makes decisions and choices much easier.
- A vision of the next chapter in your life begins to take shape, with details and timeframes clearly in view.
- Self-worth and confidence are what you now see looking back in the mirror.
- People in your inner circle begin to take notice and you become a role model for taking the high-road and standing in your positivity.
- You build resilience for the next time something changes in your life.
- Your coping mechanisms are well-honed, and your ability to survive and not give up comes as second nature, each time you find yourself dealing with change.
- Setting reasonable expectations for yourself and others helps you to set and maintain boundaries, while not passing judgment or beating yourself up.
- The energy you exude is bright and palpable, so people gravitate to that light and they want to collaborate, help, and learn from you.
Just imagine for a moment that all those things are possible when you shift your thoughts and beliefs from negative to positive. What are the possibilities for you?
An Enlightening Activity
Here’s an idea to get you started on the road to positivity. First, draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On top of the left column, write “Negative Thoughts.” On the right, “Positive Replacements.”
Now think about some of your recent life situations to which you didn’t respond as positively as you may have liked. Write every negative thought you can think of in the left column.
Then, write a positive word, phrase, or sentence in the right column to replace the negative thought. If you had put a positive spin on the situation, what might you have thought or said instead?
For instance, let’s say your boss came to you with a project and insisted you do it a particular way. Your resulting negative thought is I’ve tried that before and it failed miserably! Why will he never listen to me? Your positive alternative to that could be You know, I did try that while ago, but I’ve changed and grown wiser, I’m more resourceful and things may be different this time. I’ll give it another shot. Who knows, I might learn something new.
The result you get from finding more positive alternatives to shift your negative patterns can cause you to become more aware and conscious of when they happen.
Dealing with Change Activity—Part Two
After you have made a list of as many negative thoughts and positive responses as you can think of, take a new sheet of paper. Draw two lines down to create three columns. The left column is Benefit of Being Positive, the center column is Who Benefits, right column is What Do I Need to Change?
Start to write all the benefits you might derive from mindfully turning negative situations into positive ones. Aside from you, who else might also benefit? Often, when other people we care about will reap the rewards of our positive attitude, we are more likely to consider the change important. Lastly, in order to realize each benefit, what changes do you need to make?
Many of my clients tell me this is an eye-opening activity for them. One of the main reasons is that it brings awareness to their negative thoughts, words, and actions. Until you are aware of something, you can’t address it.
Dealing with change is hard enough because it is ever constant. But, when you meet every obstacle or changed circumstance from a negative perspective, you create a deeper rut to climb out of before you can get to the positive side.
I invite you to find hope in the circumstance that may have you mired in negativity.
If you are living in negativity much of the time and would like to mindfully make a shift to a more positive you, let’s have a chat. Making choices to move beyond the negativity can be hard and getting some guidance may be just what you need. Let’s talk about how to get you to the other side so you can love your life again (perhaps for the first time). Request your chat with María.