We all wish that our days would go smoothly and according to plan. When things go wrong, we can get quite frustrated, and why wouldn’t we? It’s really difficult to deal with sudden changes to plans, unexpected illnesses, or life-changing events. Our problems may be at the epic level or they may be at the everyday level. Either way, our problems can bring us down. And while that’s fully understandable, we will all make it through our rough times better if we learn to stay positive when things go wrong. This may sound idealist or impossible, but we aren’t talking about perfection here – just a shift in our perspective.
What negativity does to us
As humans, our natural response to difficult things is to moan and groan about them. We feel like we have good plans, and when those plans get derailed, we get angry. While this response is natural, it doesn’t do good things for us. When we stay frustrated or angry, the tension stresses our hearts (like, our literal hearts), bogs down our minds and our ability to make decisions, and weighs down our spirits.
When we’re down in so many ways, many of them not even noticeable to us, we do not help our loved ones. We might think we’re helping, but the weight we carry changes this. Without realizing it, we can become harsh and impatient. We see it as efficiency and necessity, but really it’s our own frustration coming through. And there ends up being no grace for our families. When we can’t let go of the negative perspective, we really do hurt the people around us.
How to change your thinking
It’s easy to say, “Just look on the bright side!” Of course, it’s a good bit harder to actually look on the bright side, but it is possible to shift our thinking toward that bright side. Most of us won’t be able to just think positively for no reason though. We have to have a foundation for our thinking, a reason that matters to us. When we have a good reason to think positively, it’s much more likely that we will stick with it. Your reason could have to do with your faith, your love for your family, or your own personal convictions. But with a solid foundation for changing your thinking, you’ll have a good reason to stay positive when things go wrong.
Make a plan
Once you have a solid reason that will carry you through, it’s time to make a plan. Come up with a standard phrase, a positive one, that will remind you of your solid purpose. It could be as simple as stating, “We are going to be OK.” It might be a statement of belief or a verse from your book of scripture. It could be a light from a song that really encourages you.
Then, it’s time to be hard on yourself for a little while. Watch for the next time you find yourself saying, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” or complaining about what is happening to ruin your day. When you catch yourself falling into that old habit, stop complaining. Instead, when you hit a roadblock, like you know you will probably tomorrow, say your planned phrase, statement, verse, whatever it is. You might not believe your own chosen statement in the moment, but say it anyway. Say it in an ugly, frustrated voice if that’s all you can do. But say it. And the next time something goes wrong, say it again. Say it over and over.
And do you know what? As you make yourself state this positive perspective, you build a new habit of responding to hard situations. You’ll get to the point where you can say your positive statement with a calm confidence, fully believing what you are saying. And when you conquer one area of your life with positive responses, it carries over to other areas. Instead of unintentionally hurting your people, you’ll be making a clear statement that you value the feelings of your loved ones.
The other day, a certain mom’s son was driving to a family dentist appointment. This son is learning to drive, and he took a turn too quickly and slammed into the curb. The tire immediately went flat. The dentist appointment for several kids was in 10 minutes. The mom felt quite frustrated because she has repeatedly coached this son to slow down and take turns more gently. Things were tense for a minute. But, this mom remembered her belief. She remembered that it was a mistake, and this son already felt awful about it. So, they were able to work together to try to find a solution.
They made it to the dentist. They had broken down right near a friend’s house and received the help they needed. The tire was under warranty, so it was free to replace (“giant hole in the sidewall” were the words used). And this certain mom was so thankful that she had not torn a giant hole in her relationship with her son over something that was inconvenient. Instead of stress and a weighty burden, there were feelings of freedom and love knowing that it would work out. Even if we’d had to cancel the appointment, make other arrangements, and pay for a new tire, it still would have been OK. It still would have been better to stay positive when things went wrong.
We love positive communication
At My Signing Time, we provide positive programming to build our kids up and give them the confidence to communicate their thoughts and needs in a positive way. We believe that “every child is extraordinary; all children are here to shine! We are here to help every child reach their potential.” (Rachel Coleman)
Let’s all work to stay positive when things go wrong, and watch the difference in ourselves and our families.