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Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored: What Do You Want to Be?

Rewarded, Punished, or Ignored:  What Do You Want to Be?

Within the next few weeks my daughter is going to start college. I remember when she was two or three and people would tease me with warnings of the hell I would experience during her teenage years. Though we’ve had our battles, I’m happy to report that either people didn’t know what they were talking about or I lucked out.  Thankfully she’s been a pretty good kid.

I’d like to think it’s been the values I tried to instill in her while trying to live by a set of values as her father. At some point I established the following hierarchy of or values or house rules to help guide her.

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  1. Self-respect
  2. Respect for others
  3. Family
  4. School
  5. Commitments outside of school
  6. Friends / Social

I made it clear that her ability to live within rules 1 – 5 would dictate her freedom and ability to enjoy # 6. When she kept her priorities in line, she had all the freedom in the world.  When she didn’t have her priorities in line and she wasn’t living by her values, I had to step in.

At some point in her early teenage years I realized I had to stop telling her what to do and what not to do because of me.  I had to talk to her about the benefits she would enjoy with good decision making and the problems she would encounter with poor decision making.

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It was about that time I started talking to her about the concept of “Rewards, Punishments, and Being Ignored.” I would tell her that the world rewards certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  It punishes certain thoughts, emotions, and actions, and it ignores certain thoughts, emotions, and actions.  I would repeat that it is up to her to figure out what all that stuff means in relation to what kind of life she wants to live.

You must figure out what that stuff means in relation to living the life you want to live.

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Thirteen years ago, I was 23 years old and I decided that I wanted to spend my life teaching, training, coaching, counseling, and/or speaking. With only an associates degree in graphic design, I knew I had some work to do if I was going to reach my goals and more importantly, have the kind of life I wanted to have.

Rewards

  • Attitude: In order to reach my goals I needed to maintain a positive, optimistic, and forward thinking attitude.  I needed to be patient, but focused.
  • Emotions: I needed to be confident that the choices I was making contributed to me reaching my goals. I needed to feel secure with the idea that I had a lot to learn. I needed to not take personally that some of my friends and family didn’t understand what I was trying to do and weren’t supportive at first.
  • Actions: I needed to learn all I could about leadership and this included formal education, working with mentors, and tons and tons of self study.  I needed to consult with mentors who could advise me throughout my journey.  I needed to make the time and financial investment to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree in a major that aligned with my goals.

Punishments

  • Attitude:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not have a bad attitude. I couldn’t piss and moan that I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I couldn’t allow my expectations be unrealistic.  I knew if I wanted to help people change their lives I could not complacent with attitude.
  • Emotions:  I knew if I wanted to reach my goals I could not allow myself to become frustrated with myself or the process. I could not consume my mind with worry and self-destructive thoughts. I could not allow people around me who were not supportive to make me feel like what I was doing was wrong, because they didn’t get it.
  • Actions:  If I were going to reach my goals, I could not become stagnant or lazy.  I could not allow my actions to conflict with my words. I could not appear unfocused or confused with what I was doing.

Ignored

If you spend too much time with attitudes, emotions, and actions that get punished or that don’t align with your goals or the life you say you wish to have, eventually you will be ignored by the world around you.  You will be another person who talks a big game, but doesn’t take action.  You will become the person that when you open your mouth, the world around you will give a big ol’ eye roll and shake their heads because they have heard it all before.  You will become insignificant.

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If you want to achieve all that is possible, you must maintain the right attitude and emotions, and you must continue to take the right actions.  Your ability to do so will be the difference between success and failure or meaning and regret.

You have what it takes.  Go get it!

Featured photo credit: Joris Louwes via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

7 Ways to Get Rid of Negative Energy and Become Positive

Negativity affects ourselves and everyone around us. It limits our potential to become something great and live a fulfilling, purposeful life. Negativity has a tangible effect on our health, too. Research has shown that people who cultivate negative energy experience more stress, more sickness, and less opportunity over the course of their lives than those who choose to live positively.

When we make a decision to become positive, and follow that decision up with action, we will begin to encounter situations and people that are also positive. The negative energy gets edged out by all positive experiences. It’s a snowball effect.

Although negative and positive thoughts will always exist, the key to becoming positive is to limit the amount of negativity that we experience by filling ourselves up with more positivity.

Here are some ways to get rid of negativity and become more positive.

1. Become Grateful for Everything

When life is all about us, it’s easy to believe that we deserve what we have. An attitude of entitlement puts us at the center of the universe and sets up the unrealistic expectation that others should cater to us, our needs, and our wants. This vain state of existence is a surefire way to set yourself up for an unfulfilled life of negativity.

People living in this sort of entitlement are “energy suckers”–they are always searching for what they can get out of a situation. People that don’t appreciate the nuances of their lives live in a constant state of lacking. And it’s really difficult to live a positive life this way.

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When we begin to be grateful and appreciate everything in our lives–from the small struggles that make us better, to the car that gets us from A to B every day–we shift our attitude from one of selfishness, to one of appreciation. This appreciation gets noticed by others, and a positive harmony begins to form in our relationships.

We begin to receive more of that which we are grateful for, because we’ve opened ourselves up to the idea of receiving, instead of taking. This will make your life more fulfilling, and more positive.

2. Laugh More, Especially at Yourself

Life gets busy, our schedules fill up, we get into relationships, and work can feel task oriented and routine-driven at times. Being human can feel more like being a robot. But having this work-driven, serious attitude often results in negative and performance oriented thinking.

Becoming positive means taking life less seriously and letting yourself off the hook. This is the only life that you get to live, why not lighten up your mood?

Laughter helps us become positive by lightening our mood and reminding us not to take life so seriously. Are you sensitive to light sarcasm? Do you have trouble laughing at jokes? Usually, people who are stressed out and overly serious get most offended by sarcasm because their life is all work and no play.

If we can learn to laugh at ourselves and our mistakes, life will become more of an experiment in finding out what makes us happy. And finding happiness means finding positivity.

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3. Help Others

Negativity goes hand in hand with selfishness. People that live only for themselves have no higher purpose in their lives. If the whole point of this world is only to take care of yourself and no one else, the road to a long-term fulfillment and purpose is going to be a long one.

Positivity accompanies purpose. The most basic way to create purpose and positivity in your life is to begin doing things for others. Start small; open the door for the person in front of you at Starbucks or ask someone how their day was before telling them about yours.

Helping others will give you an intangible sense of value that will translate into positivity. And people might just appreciate you in the process.

4. Change Your Thinking

We can either be our best coach or our best enemy. Change starts from within. If you want to become more positive, change the wording of your thoughts. We are the hardest on ourselves, and a stream of negative self talk is corrosive to a positive life.

The next time you have a negative thought, write it down and rephrase it with a positive spin. For example, change a thought like, “I can’t believe I did so horribly on the test–I suck.” to “I didn’t do as well as I hoped to on this test. But I know I’m capable and I’ll do better next time.”

Changing our self-talk is powerful.

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5. Surround Yourself with Positive People

We become most like the people that we surround ourselves with. If our friend group is full of negative energy-suckers and drama queens, we will emulate that behavior and become like them. It is very difficult to become more positive when the people around us don’t support or demonstrate positive behavior.

As you become more positive, you’ll find that your existing friends will either appreciate the new you or they will become resistant to your positive changes. This is a natural response.

Change is scary; but cutting out the negative people in your life is a huge step to becoming more positive. Positive people reflect and bounce their perspectives onto one another. Positivity is a step-by-step process when you do it solo, but a positive group of friends can be an escalator.

6. Get into Action

Negative thoughts can be overwhelming and challenging to navigate. Negativity is usually accompanied by a “freak-out” response, especially when tied to relationships, people and to worrying about the future. This is debilitating to becoming positive and usually snowballs into more worry, more stress and more freak-outs.

Turn the negative stress into positive action. The next time you’re in one of these situations, walk away and take a break. With your eyes closed, take a few deep breaths. Once you’re calm, approach the situation or problem with a pen and pad of paper. Write out four or five actions or solutions to begin solving the problem.

Taking yourself out of the emotionally charged negative by moving into the action-oriented positive will help you solve more problems rationally and live in positivity

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7. Take Full Responsibility, Stop Being the Victim

You are responsible for your thoughts.

People that consistently believe that things happen to them handicap themselves to a victim mentality. This is a subtle and deceptive negative thought pattern. Phrases like “I have to work” or “I can’t believe he did that to me” are indicators of a victim mentality. Blaming circumstances and blaming others only handicaps our decision to change something negative into something positive.

Taking full responsibility for your life, your thoughts and your actions is one of the biggest steps in creating a more positive life. We have unlimited potential within to create our own reality, change our life, and change our thoughts. When we begin to really internalize this, we discover that no one can make us feel or do anything. We choose our emotional and behavioral response to people and circumstances.

Make positive choices in favor of yourself.

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny” ― Lao Tzu

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Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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