I want to challenge the way you look at things now. We’ve all heard the phrase “we can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can control how we respond.” And this is so true! But what if we could adopt a mindset, that could turn almost any situation into, if not a positive, then at least a learning curve that will ultimately guide you in the right direction? It would be pretty powerful right? Far less frustrations. Far less “why did this have to happen to me?” Just acceptance, positivity and progress. And it’s possible you know. In fact, here’s how to change the way you see situations so that you can live a far happier life…
Why Do We Think Negatively?
First up, I want you to recognise that negative thoughts – especially when it comes to difficult situations – are actually pretty normal. Think about it – when someone criticises you for example, the automatic response is to get defensive and feel frustrated, spurring off some thoughts of annoyance in your head. This is because it pushes your barriers up. It’s almost like an attack. And your automatic response is therefore to respond negatively, as a way of fighting back. It’s your body’s way of helping you to avoid harm.
If we want to understand it a little more scientifically, basically your brain releases a chemical called cortisol. This is used as a way to warn you about an imminent danger – it’s kind of like your alarm system. So going back to that example, if someone is criticising you, their words perhaps getting a little bit heated or aggressive, cortisol will be released in your brain which makes negative thoughts come more easily than positive thoughts, but helps you to deal with the situation… Or so it thinks it does!
I guess by thinking negatively, your brain thinks it’s acknowledging the danger. Negative thinking feels realistic, it soothes our pain, or eases our embarrassment. Negative thinking protects us and lowers expectations. But, let’s be honest… we can’t completely blame it on all of that!
Ultimately, we have the power to change the way we see situations. More often than not, we just get into bad habits. So if you want to know how to change the way you see situations, the first thing you’ve got to do is work on your mindset.
Adopting a More Positive Outlook
So like I said, the first step to changing the way you see situations is to adopt a more positive outlook – on all things in life. Because hey, if you respond negatively to situations, you’re not really going to gain anything from it. If anything, it will just put you in a crappy mood and go on to make your day even worse. Positivity on the other hand, opens your mind and allows you to build new skills and resources. And by positivity I don’t mean that something bad happens and you say, “Oh wonderful, this is just what I wanted!”… sarcasm much! Clearly it isn’t. And actually, that’s not what being positive is about, because it would just be like trying to kid yourself. It’s not real or true.
Instead, adopting a more positive outlook means you are able to see situations for what they are, and to look for the good in anything and everything. After all, we all decide how empowering or disempowering we want our thoughts to be…
For the first example, let’s go back to the person who’s criticising you. And let’s get a little more specific. Let’s say it’s your partner. How can you view this situation in a more positive light, without getting defensive?
- Well, first off you can reflect on what they’re saying, to see if there are some elements of truth in it, for which you can take on board and aim to improve on.
- Secondly, instead of seeing what they are saying as some sort of attack, try to see how they could actually be trying to help you. Or help the relationship. Which is a good thing!
- So similarly, thirdly – you can think about the fact that at least they actually care enough to speak up about it. They’re also comfortable enough in your relationship to express how they feel. Again, that’s what you want. It’s the sign of a healthy relationship.
You see? You don’t have to necessarily like what they’re saying, but you can choose to take the positives from it. This is fundamentally what it’s all about when it comes to changing the way you see situations.
Let’s take another one. Let’s say something crappy happens. As this is a blog about love, let’s say someone you’re interested in rejects you. (I wrote about that in this post here – have a read if you need!) Your automatic response in this situation is to probably feel a little hurt and upset. This is okay, it’s normal. But it can also in turn start a spiral of negative thoughts, questioning yourself and your worthiness. Which is what we want to avoid!
To change the way you see situations like these, you have to challenge all of the negative thoughts as they come through. So you’d ask yourself,
- What proof is there that these things I’m saying aren’t true?
- When were there times that someone I liked, did like me back?
- Were there times that someone liked me and I didn’t feel the same in return?
Then choose to fill your head with more positive thoughts like,
- Although this hurts right now, it’s not the end of the world.
- I won’t settle for a love that is anything less than I deserve. Someone will feel strongly for me. This person clearly didn’t so it wasn’t meant to be.
- I will not allow this to knock my confidence. I am still just as worthy of love and will be loved.
It’s strong, it’s empowering and it’s a more uplifting way to look at something that is not really what you wanted. But… it is what it is! If you were to carry on thinking negatively in that situation, it would only cause more damage than good. So why allow yourself to think in ways that will only harm you? Choose to change the way you see situations for the better. Because it really does impact your quality of life.
DID YOU KNOW: people who express positivity on a regular basis live on average 10 years longer. Yep, it’s true. This study confirms it if you don’t believe me!
When something goes wrong, see it as a challenge, rather than a misery. When something bad happens, see what you can gain from it, rather than what you’ve lost. This leads me onto the best mindset shift you can take, to completely change the way you see situations…
If You’re Learning, You’re Growing
I love this one. It has honestly helped me so much. See, if you can value growth and learning in your life, it will have a huuuuuge impact on how you choose to view things. And I mean anything. It’s simple, but powerful. In a nutshell, whenever something bad happens, some sh*t is thrown your way or you find yourself in a situation that is anything less than ideal – instead of feeding negative thoughts, ask yourself,
What can I learn from this?
What can I take away?
How could I turn this around?
By doing this, it stops you going round and round in circles, going over how bad things are – fuelling that self-pity and low self-worth. Instead, it gets your brain searching for new lessons, new nuggets of life’s knowledge, that can in turn lead to resolutions, ways forward.
When you do this, you’ll find yourself laughing off the little mistakes, saying “Well, I’m certainly not going to do THAT again!” and pushing through the tougher stuff, because you have that drive. You want to figure out what different things mean. And don’t just look for the bad stuff. When good things happen too, take a moment to appreciate them, value them, note them in your mind. So that this learning process just becomes part of everyday life.
If There’s No Positives, Find a Purpose
Like I said, this thought process has honestly gotten me through the hardest times in my life and made me fully appreciate the best. It can do the same for you too but in order to make it work, you HAVE to value the learning process. Life is a journey and every hardship you go through, is only building you up to who you’re meant to be and what you are to become. Challenges are just part of character building. So they’re actually a good thing!
If you have this mentality, it doesn’t actually matter what happens in your life – because so long as you’re able to learn something, take a new lesson away from a situation, it can actually be seen as a good thing. And if there really are no positives, then turn the bad situation into your drive or motivation. For me, the worst thing that ever happened in my life could never be a positive, but instead it turned into my purpose. It doesn’t define me, but it certainly has shaped me. And for that, I am actually quite thankful.
“Sometimes the worst things that happen in our lives, put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us…”
How To Change The Way You See Situations
So, if you want to change the way you see situations, search within yourselves for more empowering ways to look at things. We can’t change our past, nor can we determine what will happen next… Not completely. There will always be things out of our control. But we can find strength, drive or positivity in any situation. Truly we can. You just have to choose to see it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so leave a reaction or comment below.