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Published on May 19, 2020

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

How to Change Your Perspective on Negative Situations

Would you consider your perspective helpful or detrimental to your ability to achieve your goals? Do you feel optimistic in the most difficult of situations or do you tend to be more pessimistic in the best of times?

Most people fall somewhere in the middle and feel good when things are good and poorly when things are tough. A person’s ability to change perspectives through challenging situations is one of the best measures of one’s potential to be successful.

Think of your perspective like your attitude or mindset in life. If you have a negative attitude, you tend to have a negative perspective on life. Whether your perspective is justified by past events or not is not the focus.

Similarly, if someone grew up believing they have the Midas touch and everything just seems to “go right” for them is irrelevant. Your goal should be to build a mindset that enables you to succeed in life, regardless of the situation.

1. Keep Your Head Up

Someone with a fixed mindset believes there are a lucky few who are blessed with the right genes to become successful.

Studies show someone with a fixed mindset is ill-equipped to tackle many of life’s challenges. [1] They see failure and difficulty as a sign that they are doing the wrong thing.

You may have heard someone explaining why something was not meant for them by talking about how it didn’t come naturally. This perspective cripples the ability of many from reaching their full potential.

Someone with a growth mindset has a different perspective on life. They believe everyone can learn and build the skills necessary to achieve their goals.

They see failure as a sign that their approach was wrong, not as a sign they were wrong. As a result, they will regularly try new things until they achieve their goal.

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Inventors are a classic example of a growth mindset. Their perspective about negative situations is that it is nothing more than a problem they have yet to solve. They see each negative event as being one step closer to success.

2. Change Perspective From the Inside-Out

For you to change perspective about negative events in your life, you first need to change the way you talk to yourself. What you say to yourself regularly will have an impact on the actions you take.

Consider someone who unexpectedly had their employment terminated. If their mind is full of negative self-talk, then they are telling themselves how inadequate they are.

People who believe they will always be a failure are not going to interpret events the same as people who see themselves as successful. There are instances where negative situations are created, in part, due to the negative statements you tell yourself.

In the situation of someone losing their job, what if they constantly told themselves, “my boss doesn’t like me”?

Do you think it will help or hurt someone’s interaction with their boss? How would this perspective impact the times their boss is nice to them? Or how do you think they would respond to constructive criticism?

3. Don’t Open Yourself Up to More Negativity

As you are probably starting to realize, if you don’t change perspective about the negative events in your life, you are opening yourself up to creating more.

If you believe your boss has a negative opinion about you, then you think they are being fake when they are nice to you. You think they are nitpicking or complaining about small things when they offer constructive criticism.

By continuing to negatively interpret events due to negative self-talk, you will continue to produce undesired results.

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Now imagine if you told yourself your boss has your best interests at heart and is only trying to bring the best out of you. That simple change in your perspective better equips you to deal with the perceived negative events in your life.

When your boss offers you constructive criticism, you believe they are investing in your growth. When your boss is nice to you, you welcome the behavior because you see them as your friend and colleague.

When you change perspective, the same events that could have led to failure now work to your benefit.

Focus on What Matters

Your brain can only focus on so many things each day.[2]. As a result, your mind will automatically filter out information it believes is unimportant to you.

A common example of this is when you purchase a new vehicle and you suddenly notice that vehicle everywhere. It is not that everyone purchased the vehicle the same day you did, it was that your mind was blocking the information. It did not believe that a particular make and model car was important to you until you purchased it.

For you to change perspective about negative situations in your life, you must change your daily focus. As was the case when you purchased a new vehicle, you can alter the events your mind recognizes.

Instead of focusing on negative events and how bad things are in life, focus on the things you are grateful for.

4. Find the Silver Lining

It is not always easy, but you can train your mind to focus on what you love most about life.

One great way to train your mind to focus on what you love in life is to create a happiness journal. The way it works is every time something good happens, you write it down in your happiness journal.

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These events could be as simple as you woke up on time or ate a healthy lunch. They could revolve around the effort you put in at work to complete a project. Heck, you could even write about your commitment to stay positive throughout the day. Any event that can be celebrated should be celebrated.

Then when a negative situation occurs, you can flip open your journal to change perspective. Remind yourself how blessed and fortunate you are when you feel you have nothing to celebrate in life.

Read about your successes when you feel you can’t do anything right. Creating a happiness journal will significantly change your perspective about yourself and your life.[3]

5. Become a Guardian Angel

The final way to change perspective about negative situations in your life is to help others. An amazing thing will happen when you start to spend more time focusing on the needs of others.

First, you will feel better about yourself because of how positively others view you. Next, you will begin to realize that while everything is not perfect in life, it could always be worse.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “first world problems”?

It is a funny way to help put negative situations into the proper perspective. While all negative events are unpleasant, there is most certainly a difference.

If you have an inconsiderate boss, while that can make work unpleasant on many occasions, it is still a blessing to have employment. Others feel that their spouse is irresponsible with money, but at least you have a spouse who loves you.

My daughter often talks about the fact that she has an older cellphone, but I have to remind her that she is blessed to have a cell phone at her age.

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6. Challenge Yourself

There is rarely going to be a situation where you cannot find someone going through a negative situation. The problem most people face is they are too busy focusing on the negative events in their life to notice the negative events going on in the lives of others.

When you change perspective from yourself to others, you begin to realize there are a lot of people going through their own negative events, yet they are maintaining a positive perspective about life.

They continue to be grateful for the good things they have. And they understand many of the negative situations they have are tied to blessings – meaning they cannot experience the joy without opening themselves up to the possibility of experiencing pain.

Final Thoughts

To change perspective about negative situations is not about pretending negative things don’t happen, because they do. It is not about always smiling and pretending that everything is wonderful because that isn’t always the case.

Changing your perspective is about acknowledging that negative situations occur, but they do not necessarily cause your demise. You can learn from any situation, and you can always find something to be grateful for. When you train your mind to focus on the things you can control and the things going right in your life, you create an unconquerable resolve to create your dream life.

You acknowledge that difficult does not mean impossible, and you are therefore able to prevail where most people accept defeat.

Learn to Change Your Perspective

Featured photo credit: Anika Huizinga via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Undre Griggs

Coaching To Help Professionals And Organizations Change Their Beliefs So They Can Get Results.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears And Stay Strong

She could hear her beautiful baby crying but was frozen in the doorway unable to move. The crying got worse and she knew that unless she comforted the infant soon the baby would be inconsolable, and yet her feet wouldn’t move. She didn’t look at the cot but the floor in front, where the venomous hairy monster sat before her…. .okay it was a UK spider so not likely to kill her at all, and yet still her body was frozen as the tears fell down her face. “What a useless mother you are” she berated herself.

That awful mother was me 14 years ago. My fear of spiders had not been controlled for years and I was at the stage where I wouldn’t open a newspaper until my husband had read it and removed the images of spiders. I hated houses that had wooden floors or skirting boards because every knot in the wood could be a spider about to crawl across me.

At the height of my fear, I tried to get out of a moving car. Clearly this harmless 8-legged creature had massive levels of power over me but now that fear is gone, I’m never going to love spiders but I’m not going to leave the room because of one and I can read the word without freaking out and sobbing.

If you think that fear is irrational, what about the fear of going to airports? Or the fear of not asking for help?

Today I want to look at how our irrational fears impact on us, how they can destroy (and I don’t use that word lightly) our success. They can damage our health and even stop us from living our lives. And then I’ll share the benefits of fighting that fear and most importantly how you can fight your fears too.

How Irrational Fears Impact Your Life

The thing about irrational fears is that we are not keen to look at them. It makes us feel inadequate, weak and daft because we can’t do things that it seems everyone else can. That gives the fear power.

Fear loves negative emotions and saps up yours making your fear bigger and uglier and even more powerful. Not ideal to say the least. Fears can cause us to:

  • Avoid situations where that fear may have to be faced. Dodging parties, new jobs, new experiences where we aren’t sure we will be able to protect ourselves.
  • Stop us from sleeping for fear the thing we fear will “get us in the night.” For me this was massive, and I stopped sleeping which had massive implications when my job was to look after a toddler and a baby. I felt half dead most of the time!
  • Feel ill with the stress. Stress can be the cause of wrong decisions. Drinking alcohol when we shouldn’t, eating chocolate because it makes us feel better, the list of excuses is long that we hold on to so that we can avoid the cause of our stress.
  • Cause more distress as our minds overload us with negative thoughts of inadequacy. This can damage our confidence. Having coached thousands, I know that a lack of confidence is usually the underlining impactor on most people’s success across all areas of their lives.
  • Risk looking aloof or arrogant because we won’t participate like other people. Our fears can even isolate us in our personal and professional lives too.
  • Feel debilitated. Needless to say, these fears may look irrational and shouldn’t exist to the outside world but to the sufferer they are debilitating. Even impacting on their earning potential, love life, hobbies, travels and personal and professional success.

Why Bother to Fight the Fear

Couldn’t you just ensure you live your life in way that you don’t have to deal with your fear?

I had a client that was so scared of flying that they couldn’t even take their partner to the airport, another who had avoided public speaking for over 20 years and yet now at the height of their profession they had no choice, what were they going to do? Quit? There was another who could never ask for help and another who feared people finding out who they really were.

All these fears and many more can be fixed but only if we can appreciate the benefits of fighting the fear.

Let’s look at the benefits of fighting your fears:

If you’re going to change the way you do something, something that has impacted on your life, thoughts and actions for years, it can be hard to believe change is possible.

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The first thing you must do is give yourself a big enough reason why. Go back through your life and remember all the occasions that this fear was there.

I can still see the spider trapped in my hair because it had obviously been on my hairdryer. I also remember that I probably looked ludicrous in the South of France in my underwear running down the lane screaming and flinging my hair everywhere. The poor spider had not only been flung a long way from my head but was probably destroyed in the flight.

Remember the feelings, the actions, the negative feelings you felt afterwards, for me it meant that every time I picked up a hairdryer I could see a spider crawling towards my ear in my hair. Guess how helpful that was for reinforcing my reactions and irrational fear?

Really experience the fear. Make it so painful that you probably notice your heart racing, your shoulders drawing up and your breath changing. That fear is causing physical change in your body, doesn’t feel good does it?

When the irrational fear is challenged and destroyed, it can’t have power over you. So new opportunities can come your way and instead of fearing them and what people will think of you for your choices, you can be open to;

  • New hobbies
  • New travels
  • New opportunities
  • More success
  • Financially more secure
  • Happier
  • Healthier
  • Confident

The list is long so what can you do to get rid of your fears?

How to Fight Your Irrational Fears

In my book Fight the Fear: How to Beat Your Negative Mindset and Win in Life, I cover 12 of the biggest fears that I see impact on success and happiness. Not all of these are obvious but they all have far reaching impacts on our lives.

Here are some of those ideas to help you fight your fear and get more of what you want out of life:

Why Did This Happen?

For some people they really need to know why the fear started, for others all they want is to get rid of it. If you need to understand yours then don’t skip this tip. Learn how your fears are made and appreciate where yours came from. If you don’t care how it arrived, you can jump to top tip 2.

I’ve seen some clients who are not prepared to look at how to get rid of the fear until they’ve understood how it got here in the first place. It’s not my place to tell them that is right or wrong, just to help them find the right steps to lead them to a happy path.

When a fear first starts, we don’t acknowledge a fear has entered our lives. It is only after a few occasions that we begin to notice that there’s a strong negative emotion connected to this “thing”. That’s how fear is allowed to grow because as humans we have in-built responses that have kept us safe for our entire existence. This means we are meant to perceive fear and either run or fight, either way our bodies jump into action creating physical responses to the perceived threat.

Look for when you first noticed the fast heart beat, the shallow breathing, the shaking hands, the redness. You have created an automatic way of dealing with this fear. It could be that it felt sensible to fear this because you had an unhappy outcome, although it is usually the case that your head has the facts and your heart is not prepared to hear them as it creates a version of the event that is far scarier than it actually was.

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Learning how to remove the emotions and feelings will help you to change your body’s response. The first time I fixed someone’s fear of public speaking, they told me that it physically closed their throat, I worried that was it possible with words to change our physicality? The answer was yes! With the tools and techniques I share below.

The Tool Kit to Fight Your Fear

From the many people that have contacted me after reading Fight the Fear to my clients, I know for even myself creating a tool kit is a must. This is not a bag that you physically must haul everywhere. This is about learning tools that really resonate with you so that when you can feel the fear start to impact on you, you’ve got your kit ready to take it on.

I don’t have the space in one article to share all of those tools so let’s visit a few:

1. Why I’m Awesome?

Creating a 2-page handwritten document of why you are awesome can help. This document will be packed with achievements, successes, overcoming adversity and all of those will be full of positive emotions, actions and feelings. It is not easy to write, and I get many messages telling me so however it is a powerful reminder that you can stand up and accomplish.

2. Draw out Your Emotions

Earlier we looked at how irrational fears can damage every aspect of our lives. If you were to follow the negative spiral down you can follow the positive spiral up again.

I draw these individually for clients and with each action, thought or feeling we put an arrow between them. Each arrow is an opportunity to do something different. If we know that irrational fear is an automatic thought process, then we can start to see that we need to think, do or feel something different. Top tip 3 will help with that.

3. Acknowledge That You Need to Change

It’s not easy to change, and that is a belief that many hold. Top tip 4 could assist further, however for this tip, remember that when you want to do, think or feel differently, you’ve already achieved the first step and that is recognizing something must change (you don’t need to know what). But if you aren’t sure yet if there’s really something different you want to do, this story about Nancy may help you to figure it out.

Then it’s about acknowledging it. That means not only accepting it but feeling that it is yours to take on and change.

Then for 2 weeks, decide that you won’t allow the thought to be in your head. There are usually some negative thoughts allowed to fester in your head. At this stage, just say “No I’d like you to stop.” After 2 weeks choose a new thought that you would prefer to hear in your head, maybe “I can cope with situations that scare me” or “I am stronger than I know”.

There will be times when you fail. Don’t berate yourself because that is another negative thought you are allowing your head to process. Just start again and at times like that have a read of your “Why I’m awesome list”.

4. Choose Your Words Carefully

I’ve heard many clients tell me that “It’s going to be hard to change” “I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t petrified” or “This is a lot to ask”. Any thought that gives power to your fear takes away power from you to fight it. Therefore, choose how you word your goal to overcome your fear carefully.

Think thoughts like “I remember when I achieved xxxx and that reminds me I’m far tougher and more capable than I give myself credit for”. (Take the xxx from your why I’m awesome document.)

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5. Believe That You Have the Control Power

The only person that can control what we think and feel is us. I know it can feel like other people are impacting on us, however they can only do that if we give them permission to do so.

If you really think about that for a moment, can you see that you have the right to think and feel anything you want right now? I’m certain you wouldn’t choose pain, fear or anxiety. So, what would you choose to think about your fear?

6. Put up Physical Reminders

Working one to one, I can find the fear, work through it and create a tool kit of thoughts, feelings and actions that will help them fight that fear and get rid of it. For some, they don’t need physical things to help them; others do.

For example, the CEO who was petrified of public speaking but could handle a conference call with 300 without a second thought, imagined the microphone was a phone when they spoke in front of 400 people to help reinforce the positive thoughts and ideas we’d created.

Or the client that always worried that they were an imposter and “someone else can do this better” pinned on their office wall a tag cloud of all the words that made up their “Why I’m awesome document”.

So they had a daily reminder. They were the right one for the job and they could do it. These daily reminders all come down to one key point — help you to Hack the Habit Loop.

What would be your visual clues to remind you that you can overcome this?

7. Physical Supports

Music, environment and even smells can impact on us. Know the music that makes you feel alive and ready for anything. Try aromatherapy oils to feel positive and energised. Even choose your work environment or clothing to empower you.

Changing these things is physical and giving yourself physical ideas to action can help power up your emotional state too.

8. Don’t Go It Alone

The fear to ask for help is very real (and has a whole chapter in my book) so I know people really struggle with this. The fact is we all need people. We are not insular by design and as such it can be tough to admit that you have a fear impacting on you.

However, by sharing your fear with a trusted friend, colleague or loved one can mean that when you are feeling the fear. you can talk to someone. It could be that you share with them the contents of your tool kit and ask their permission to be added to it. That way they know what works for you and how to best support you.

It’s not a sign of weakness to tell people about your fear. It takes massive levels of strength to say, “I have this fear, and I want to get rid of it.”

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9. Get Physical

One of the reasons that a fear can escalate is because we have come to accept that response. Our body reacted in a certain way, once repeated the behaviour and it became a formed habit that was accepted.

Challenging a fear can be done using our body too when we appreciate that fear is actually a reaction inside our bodies. We don’t need to understand where in our brains or what chemicals are racing through us to use our physicality to help us challenge our fears.

When I was writing my book, the Cuddy Superhero pose[1] was proved and disproved by various researchers around the world 3 times. Whether it’s real or not, the fact is the way we stand, the way we breathe and even the speed at which we speak can impact on us as well as those around us.

If you have a fear of public speaking or a fear of people thinking you are stupid or a fear of what people are thinking you can look at how you speak, stand and move. If you compare these with people you deem confident and happy in these situations, how do you look? What can you learn?

The research around placebo’s reinforces us that if it feels like it is working, then keep doing it! What could you use to help reinforce your power and fearlessness?

Final Thoughts

A little fear can be good. As someone famous once says:

“It is not fear, it is performance energy.”

Despite having an absolute hatred of public speaking 10 years ago, I now love an audience and yet I have a healthy level of fear. That level of fear says “Are you well prepared?” “Do you know your audience?” “Have you rested your voice?” “You really want to deliver to this audience what they need” And those thoughts are sensible.

So as you reduce your fear, be aware of a good level of fear.

More About Fighting Fears

Featured photo credit: Isaiah Rustad via unsplash.com

Reference

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