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There’s a common belief that there’s power in positive thinking. That having a positive attitude brings happiness and success.
I’m a pretty negative person. I wish I weren’t, but I am.
I’ve been conscious of this fact for many, many years and have made attempts in the past to be more of an optimist. But then life would throw me a curveball (sometimes it’d be something big, oftentimes it’d be something small) and I’d be right back to my old pessimistic ways.
With my struggles to find a good job, and having to settle for less than I’m capable of at a fraction of the pay I used to make, I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that these last 2 years have left me feeling particularly negative – especially when it comes to my career, my finances, and my self-worth.
I’ve been extremely lucky to have R, my fiancé, on my side through all of this. He’s been the more positive one in our relationship. The one supporting me, and encouraging me all this time.
However, back in December, things were looking pretty bleak for him/us when he was facing a strike at work. If the strike happened, there was no way my part-time income was going to be enough to support us. It wouldn’t even cover our rent, let alone our other survival costs.
This added stress to our already fragile financial situation left him understandably worried. And left me feeling like it was my turn to step-up – both in terms of making more money and by being more positive.
But of course, neither of these things are that simple. If they were, everyone would be rich and happy! So instead, I tried to “fake it till you make it” and began pretending to be positive – even though I really wasn’t.
I sent out a bunch of new job applications, asked the people I babysit for if they knew anyone who needed childcare, and was mentally preparing myself for the possibility of having to re-apply for my old job at the gym’s daycare. The only thing I did differently this time was I approached each of these possibilities with a positive attitude.
And almost immediately, it worked!
I had my first successful job interview in over a year, and was offered a new job.
Perhaps this was just a pure coincidence, or maybe there is some truth to this power in positive thinking after all?
It didn’t take long, however, for my new attempt at optimism to be tested, as the new job came with a lot of complications – including getting the wrong information and having my start date delayed by over a month.
I tried not dwell on it, and I tried even harder not to complain – but let’s be real. It was a stressful, sucky situation, and sometimes, complaining is the best thing you can do for yourself.
I’m sure R had/has no idea I was/am trying to complain less, especially while everything with the new job was still up in the air. But I was aware, and so much more mindful of how I was complaining, how often I was complaining, and who I was complaining to.
Keeping my negativity offline was my first goal. I’ve used social media and this blog as a place to vent far too many times! (Can I blame MySpace and LiveJournal for this?) I started this blog as a place to share my story, and although life keeps throwing these curveballs, I have a lot to be grateful for. I need to start sharing those stories here as well.
So, instead of publishing the original draft of my last post “It’s a Job, Not a Career” I let myself whine and complain about it all – and then deleted it, and started over, reminding myself to be more positive this time. Writing all my feelings and frustrations down helped me, but publishing it would not.
When the urge to rage grew high, and pretending to be positive wasn’t good enough to cut it, I turned to a story that resonated with me on a personal level, and read it over and over again.
“I needed something to believe in — a little bit of hope. So even though I thought it was lame and weird, I started to think positively. I wrote that check to myself and tried to see the best in situations and not the worst.”
I often feel like Melanie is somehow a future a version of myself. I know that sounds weird, but our education and backgrounds are very similar, and my present looks a lot like her past – massive student loan debt, struggling to find that elusive career, settling for $12/hour jobs, and feeling depressed over losing our potential and wasting our education.
Although it took her a few years, positive thinking helped Melanie get “unstuck”, debt free, and become a freelance writer. So if she really is just me in the future and this worked for her, surely it could work for me, right?
Life is already complicated enough. I don’t want to sabotage myself or make things harder by complaining and creating obstacles that don’t need to be there. I’m hoping that pretending to be positive is the answer.
YOUR TURN: Has positive thinking helped improve your life?
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