A while back, maybe 6 months or more now, I spoke to a woman about a problem she was having. I tried to help her. I thought I could help. But things are rarely simple. It turned out, that there was much more to the situation, and I couldn’t help her in the way that she wanted.
A few weeks after that, I spoke to that woman again. There was another problem. Once again, I tried to help. She was upset about another problem. She seemed rooted there. She couldn’t see anything outside of the situtation. So I tried to create space between her and that problem. I tried to refocus her. It seemed to work, but I was wrong.
Recently I spoke to this woman. There were a few new problems. Some of the old ones were still around. Some of these problems were very minor. They were not at all important. Some were reasonable, and I tried to work with her and listen to her. But the problems were not ending. She seemed determined to be upset about something, anything, or possibly even everything.
I realized shortly after the last time that I spoke with her that I have never heard her say anything positive. It’s always a problem. Always a complaint. Always an issue.
I know another person who also tends to lean more negative. Things are frequently bad. She never has time to do all the work that she needs to get done. There are always roadblocks. There are always new issues coming up. I’ve know this person for years now, and I’ve heard a lot of these types of issues. I’ve also heard a lot of positives. I’ve heard her laugh. I’ve heard her sing. I’ve seen her stressed out, and I’ve seen her relaxed. I’ve seen her moved by touching stories to the point of tears. I’ve seen her in many different situations with many different emotions. She’s complex, mostly because people are complex.
While she can be negative, that’s okay with me. We all can be negative because sometimes everything sucks. It’s good to get those feelings out. Sometimes it’s necessary.
I tend to be a positive person. I see the bright side of things. I love to laugh. I’m goofy as hell. I sing throughout the day about random topics: what I’m doing, what I’m thinking, if I feel hungry, if my dog does something cute, and on and on. I also love to dance silly. I use funny voices when I talk sometimes. I pretend to speak to my pets and that my pets are responding.
I also tend to be very optimistic. While everything sucks, things will work out in the end. While things may be difficult, they won’t be difficult forever. That’s my headspace. That’s where I live. I try to get perspective. I try to get context. I try to think big picture.
I realize that everyone can’t easily adopt this positive mindset. Some people genuinely have shitty things going on for them, and that’s why I think it’s absolutely fine to be negative. It’s not good to try to paint a positive picture when the world around you is crumbling. By accepting the negative, it can help to get it out.
Without getting into detail (only because it’s definitely way boring to everyone but me), the other day at work I was hella negative. Someone did something that threw my whole day off. I was pissed. At one point, I literally stomped around the office because I was upset and making the noise made me feel a little better. Then I got over it. I got the emotion out. I stomped around and burned off the extra energy. And I felt better.
The problem I have is when people make that negativity their home. It becomes their default setting. They’re constantly upset. There’s always a complaint. Like the woman I mentioned at the start of this post, there is never anything positive coming from them. Maybe for her, it started with one bad day, but it’s been months and years from what I can gather, and she still holding on to something.
(Without intending to get this song stuck in your head) sometimes, you have to simply let it go. Let it go! Be upset. Stomp around. Then move on.
If someone were to ask me what my motto is (which is such a weird thing to ask a person, but I guess it happens) I would say it’s: “Forward Focus.” Everyone is going to have a bad day. Things are going to suck. You’re allowed to get negative. It’s okay to get upset. But don’t stay there.
I wrote recently about gratitude (HERE and HERE). I like to think about all of the things that didn’t go wrong in a day. I like to recognize successes. I also acknowledge and evaluate opportunities for improvement. I recognize my failures and try to learn. I think about how I can apply what I’ve learned to get better. Rather than staying in the past, I think about the future. That’s the point of forward focus.
So people, you’re allowed time. I’d say a day, but take a week. Take a year if you have to. But try to gain perspective. Be negative. Use it to get whatever emotions you have out. But don’t make that space your home.