For the New Year, I am going to give you a piece of advice that can change how you think, feel, and behave for the rest of the year and coming years if you wanted.
This piece of advice is: “In 2020, don’t be positive.”
“Whaaaatttt?!?” I hear you shout in utter confusion. Before you think I have completely lost my mind, let me explain. Now, I know this advice is contrary to popular belief and goes against the grain of what we are often told.
Being positive and having a positive mindset is a concept that is nicely wrapped up with a big red bow and sold to us by society as a gift that gives us an amazing life. The reality, however, is that being positive can create a false sense of security, puts pressure on us to keep moving, and sets unrealistic and unattainable expectations, all of which can set us up to fail.
In life, we sometimes experience a situation, change, or tragedy that can be so hurtful, distressing, and upsetting that being positive is not only difficult but at times can be impossible to do. A change in our circumstances may occur due to a relationship breakup, loss, bereavement, crisis, trauma, or health-related concern. Any single one of these situations can be devastating and have a massive impact on the rest of our life and its trajectory.
During times like this, when the rug has been pulled from underneath our feet, “being positive” is not going to cut it. In fact, others telling you to “be positive” can be counterproductive, as it brings up feelings of anger, irritation, and frustration. We can find ourselves getting annoyed at the person who is doing their best to offer us support, advice, and guidance because unbeknownst to them, everything they are saying is making us feel worse!
The other side effect of being positive is that it can sometimes minimize how we are feeling and put pressure on us to keep moving forward in life when we aren’t, in fact, ready to do so. When we are hurting, it is essential to take time out to lick our wounds and heal, as this enables us to process our feelings. If we are hurting and others are telling us to be positive, it can make us feel that perhaps we are moaning, complaining, or being unnecessarily negative. This can put pressure on us to address our feelings within self-imposed deadlines rather than allowing for this to happen organically.
Instead of being positive, my advice is “Be realistic and proactive!”
When we are being realistic, we can acknowledge our situation, we can understand the gravitas of it, and we can find a way of dealing with the hurt and upset that it has caused us.
The next time we have a situation that has made us feel upset, distressed, or had a life-changing impact on us, we can ask ourselves these simple questions:
What do I need to help me deal with my current situation?
How can I make this happen?
When will I make it happen?
What do I need to help me?
Where will I go for help?
Who can help me?
In asking these questions, we can become clearer about our situation and what we need to do to deal with it. Once we have this vision, we can then prepare ourselves for the future by making a plan and being proactive. Being proactive will make us feel in control, empowered, and give us a sense of security about the future as we now know which direction we are headed in.
Being realistic, therefore, is about being able to plan, prepare, and be proactive.
As nice as it sounds, being positive is not enough!
Being positive will not help us address or solve our existing difficulty, nor will it make what we are feeling go away. If we want to take control of our lives, own our feelings, and take responsibility for our actions, then our mantra for 2020 needs to be:
“Don’t be positive, be proactive.”
For more, view my video here.