You didn’t get that job promotion.
Your friend didn’t invite you to that big party.
Your water heater broke and you have to take cold showers for three days.
Shit happens. We all know that and we all know that it’s how we react when shit happens that is important but how many of us can feel the pain and disappointment then move on without letting it crush us?
The Disappointment Rollercoaster
Things like getting laid off, loosing friendships, or having my book rejected used to throw me off track for days, weeks, and even months. I would wallow in self pity and the twit in my head would give me evidence as to why I suck at everything. The slippery slope would get too immense for me to work my way out and I would end up in full blow depression.
Most of my life has been a series of fits and starts: I’d be brave and put myself out there (like try to write and publish a book), I’d get negative feedback or some shit would happen and I’d end up in depression. Sometimes it would last for years. Then I’d get brave again and the cycle would start all over.
I believe this crazy starting and stopping rollercoaster ride I was on came from how I reacted when things didn’t go my way, or the way I expected them to go. I didn’t have the tools or the method to deal with disappointments in a healthy way. It was all or nothing for me.
Here’s What I Did to Change My Perspective
The first step (which is the hardest) is to recognize that tendency toward negativity. I had it bad. But I started noticing my gut reaction to disappointing situations or circumstances. What do you think first when you hear that your friend is bad talking you to other people? Do you think: of course she or he is saying that, this always happens which is why I hate people? Or do you think: I have no idea why he or she is saying those things but I’m really upset about it? If you go straight to a negative thought, you are overblowing the situation and it seems worse. It sucks that your friend is bad talking you but it doesn’t mean you or all people are bad. Focus on the current situation and not on the slippery slope.
Change Your Inner Vocabulary
Words like always, never, and should or should not filled my inner lexicon. These are negative words and they’re toxic so strike them from your vocabulary while you are trying to transition to a more positive perspective.
You need to imagine yourself as the most vulnerable, sweet, and pure person you can think of: a friend in need or even an orphan. Why? Because you will be more compassionate toward yourself if you do this and it will be easier to change how you talk to yourself.
Immerse Yourself in Positivity
So once you see yourself as an orphan who needs encouragement, support, and compassion, then find words, quotes, movies, images, or whatever lifts you up (or the orphan you). This is what I did. I post positive quotes on all my social networks not because I want to share it with others but because I NEED IT. The fact that others get something positive out of it is an added benefit.
Try, Try, Try Again
If you are a parent, you know you have to tell your child 23,000 times to clean their room until they do it. It’s the same when you teach them how to put their laundry away, not to lie, do their homework, or any other positive behavior. We learn to perfect something through repetition. You must do all the above over and over and over and over. I’ve been working on it for about 30 years, and I’m still FAR from mastering my tendency toward negativity.
When all else fails, breathe. Stop and inhale deeply while counting to four, hold your breath for six second, and exhale slowly for eight seconds. Just this simple thing can work wonders.
Give Yourself Some Credit
You may not be where you want to be but the fact that you are trying is HUGE. Most people allow their negativity to rule how they behave and interact with people, and they don’t think twice about it. They believe the world is against them or that is someone else’s fault. If you look back at where you were a few months or years ago, you will see how far you’ve come. Slowly, disappointments and disillusionment don’t bring you down to the depths of depression. That’s not to say that you won’t be sad or hurt, your a human, emotions come with territory. But you’ll get past that and realize that you are moving forward toward a more positive way of being.