Credits : This post has been co-written by myself and a friend who prefers to remain anonymous – compliments can come to me , hate mail can go to the other writer
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Positivity. Its a state of mind that we all seek. We want our lives to be characterized by certainty, warmth, and affirmation. We want to get up quickly when we fall. We want to keep going forward when we hit those roadblocks of life. We don’t want be in a state of languish. We want to progress. We want to say NO when we need to say NO. When we say yes, we want to live up to our promises. But, staying positive is easier said than done. For a few people, it comes very naturally. You have definitely met these sunshine people in your lives. Their genetic disposition does not let them get bogged down. For the rest of us, who often feel we are stuck in a rut, how do we think and act positively? And avoid the negative spiral? What are those things that prevent us from staying positive?
Its very natural for us to feel insecure. We start off ignorant in our lives, oblivious of our surroundings, happy babies having little desires apart from food, sleep and comfort, but as some time progresses, our desires, our dreams and goals, our sense of right and wrong, do’s and don’ts are shaped by our family, friends and society. People around us start having different expectations out of us, how we look, how we talk, what we wear, what we work on. The list is endless. Our sense of who we are and who others want us to be, often conflict severely - we end up feeling we lack many things and insecure about our real or perceived weaknesses.
Stop thinking that you are not good enough.
Don’t get dragged into this vicious cycle. You are only as good as you think you are, and being insecure does not let your life to be governed by positivity and calm. It impacts your life in ways you don’t realize, you extrapolate your insecurities onto your relationships, family and friend alike. You become fearful, you feel restricted, you feel you have no choice, you become defensive, you ignore good advice, you become over-eager to prove that you are right, you want show that you are in control, you withdraw yourself and eventually, you miss out on the opportunities provided by life. You are what you are.
Here’s a statistic - According to a recent study, 96% of women feel guilty at least once a day, having a destructive effect on our health. Are you not spending enough time with your children? Check. Were you too hard on them? Check. Did you put on weight? Check. Did you put your partner off by not living up to his expectations? Check. Did you disappoint your boss? Check. Did you spend money on yourself? Check. Did you have some “me-time”? Check. Did you forget someone’s birthday. Did you… ? Check.
The biggest downside of feeling guilty is – you say yes to things that you should say no to and vice versa. Its perfectly fine to feel guilty with the various situations of our lives, sometimes its even helps us, at other times it harms us. Snap out of it as soon as possible and take decisions based on the merit of the situation and not what your guilt driven hyper-anxious mind tells you to do.
Lack of Confidence
Do you find yourself constantly justifying your actions to others? Do you react immediately to criticism? Do you shy away from conflict situations? Do you believe you are destined to a fate, however unhappy it is? You lack the confidence to question status quo and think and act positively.
Confidence is a combination of self-efficacy and self-esteem. What is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy is a state of mind in which we believe we have mastered a particular skill or a particular situation really well and we are not afraid of having to face tricky situations around them. Its the type of confidence that leads people to accept challenges and persist in the face of adversity. Self-esteem is about how you view where you stand with respect to the rest of the world. Its a sense that we are virtuous and competent in general and that we can succeed. How do you become confident and self-assured? Prepare and plan well, work hard, look at your past successes and believe in your strengths, weave your actions around your priorities and program your mind to feel good about yourself.
Lack of Motivation
Do you often feel deflated? Do you feel nothing really can improve your circumstances? Have you stopped celebrating the small gifts of life ( as simple as a stranger giving a you pleasant smile, the sight of a fresh white rose) ? Do you just do the bare minimum to keep things going? Are you not able muster the courage to change course? Have you resigned yourself to a fate? Do you think its okay to fail? Perhaps, a dash of motivation will add a bit of spark in your life. A bit of passion, a bit of courage to break free. “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much” – said a wise man once, so find some motivation and seize control of your life.
Do you keep putting things off that you should be doing at a priority? You are procrastinating! So many people believe they (or others) procrastinate because they are lazy or unproductive. Well, thats a common misconception. The truth is that procrastination has nothing to do with laziness. It is more of a weakness to reign in your mind to do something that you do not like doing. Or maybe you are too overwhelmed with something, find it too hard and keep putting it off. And fear not, even nobel laureates procrastinate. But chronic procrastination can pull us down in several ways, to the point it affects our performance at school or work and harms our relationship with dear ones. Can you get better? Ofcourse you can. There are tons and tons of literature on it already. Go that extra step, train your mind, set personal incentives. A lot of the work we procrastinate on are mere chores, so we need to not feel guilty and give ourselves an incentive or two once we finish up. Go forth and grab that extra chocolate.
Intolerance for and outright rejection of other’s opinions and beliefs makes you build a vicious shell around yourself. A shell that is increasingly hard to break as your life progresses. A shell that can poison your mind. Whether it is cultural, social, or religious, intolerance will make you absolutely closed to new and positive ideas. Intolerance and insecurity are also brothers in arms, so one feeds off the other. Positivity can be rubbed on to you by others only when you are willing to listen. True dialogue and exchange of ideas can only occur when each participant acknowledges that the other may just have something of worth to add, if not in absolute truth, then at least in a point of consideration. Free your mind.
Not accepting Failure
Here is a quote for you about failure.
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” - Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player ever, so he knows a thing or two about success and failure. Not able to accept failure will refrain you from success the next time around. Acknowledge and embrace your failures, make them your best teacher. Wear your scars. You can’t stand up if you don’t even realize you have fallen.
The only thing constant in this world is change. Yet, why do so many of us hate it so strongly? Why do we hold on to the old for our dear lives, when deep down, we know the New is the way forward. We hate change because it challenges us to rethink the way things have been in the past and the near future. We hate change because it requires us to reprogram our mindset about the way things should be. We are conditioned to accept the same thing over and over and over again. Some of it is basic human instinct, some of it is being enforced onto us by otheres for their benefit. All change is not good, and stability is important, but the risk of not being amenable to change, not adapting fast and missing out on opportunities, is something one should consider. Life’s course changes often without anyone realizing it. Embrace and acknowledge it, prepare for it and like everything else you wil adapt to it.
So those were the eight habits that pull you back in life. Have you been affected by any of these? Have you gotten rid of any of these, and if so, how did you do it? You are welcome to pen them down in the comments. In the meanwhile, I leave you with a Deepak Chopra quote to ponder upon.
You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable.