How to Stay Positive When Sh*t Doesn’t Go Your Way
“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ––Tom Bodett
How true is this? Life throws us curve balls all the time, but it’s how we grow and what we learn from them that ultimately shapes us.
Studying many of the principles of the New Age movement, I have learned the importance of our thoughts and how they hold power that can move us in a positive or negative direction. When I first started reading about this theory, also known as the Law of Attraction, I didn’t really understand what it meant. My initial interpretation was that like attracts like and good thoughts will create good results and bad thoughts will create bad results.
I was a bit rattled by this concept. If your mind is anything like mine, controlling my thinking is no easy feat, especially when insecure, critical, and fear-based inner dialogue rapid-fires in my head. As much as I want to tell them to shut the F up, my mind doesn’t always like to oblige.
Delving further into this idea, I learned that manifesting the life you want for yourself is more than just having a positive mindset. It’s about our energy, our vibration, our emotion. That’s the real ticket. It serves as the fuel behind the thoughts that enable us to create our reality.
The goal is to maintain a joy-filled, high vibration as much as possible, until something sh*tty comes flying in your direction. And when that happens, worry and self-loathing tend to jump onto the scene, initiating a hostile takeover of your happy thoughts.
New Age experts offer many different tools to help you snap out of a downward spiral, such as making a gratitude list––no matter how bad things seem, you can always find something to be grateful for; staying in the present moment; connecting with other people; spending time outside in nature; writing a script of how you want things to turn out; recognizing that you’re not your thoughts; watching comedy; exercising; practicing breathwork; meditating, etc. Many of these suggestions are helpful, but do they work? Yes and no.
Here’s an example of how I recently tried to turn a crappy day around:
It all began when I received a phone call from a friend who had tested positive for COVID-19. She and I had gone for a walk together a few days before she discovered that she had the virus, which meant that I had been directly exposed and needed to get tested.
On the way to the testing center, I got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Gripping the steering wheel in frustration, I tried to calm myself down by taking deep breaths, but it wasn’t helping. The longer it took to get there, the more I wanted to rip my hair out of my head. The ten-minute drive turned into forty minutes. By the time I arrived, my insides were filled with irritable tremors.
To make matters worse, after the test, I couldn’t locate my new AirPods. I thought maybe I had dropped them when I was walking over to the testing center. I carefully retraced my steps and tore my car apart looking for them, but couldn’t find them anywhere.
Consequently, when I got home I was in a terrible mood, and since I had to wait until the end of the day to get my test results back, the fear that I might have COVID-19 was adding to my angst.
I had to find a way to raise my vibration before my negative thinking sucked me further down a dark tunnel. I forced myself to go for a walk outside. The fresh air and sunshine helped a little, but I couldn’t stop focusing on the fact that I didn’t have my AirPods, which I had recently purchased to replace another missing pair! Like my phone, I take my AirPods everywhere. I use them to listen to podcasts and music when I’m exercising or doing mundane chores, like cleaning the house, and I use them to make phone calls. Without them, I was lost.
I tried to put it in perspective. In the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal at all. In fact, even as I write this, I realize how ridiculous and bratty I must sound. There are far more pressing and dire issues facing the world right now than losing a trivial material item. But that day, in that moment, it didn’t matter what I told myself, the gnawing in my stomach was not subsiding.
Following the walk, I called my daughter on the phone and told her what had happened. She sympathized with me, but then the conversation switched to problems she was having with her friends. By the time we ended the call, my vibration was a notch lower.
Next, I tried journaling and making a list of things I was grateful for. I knew I had a lot to be thankful for, so that was easy to write. Even though I wasn’t feeling worse after I did that, it was by no means a magic bullet.
I thought maybe I should try singing or dancing. Really? Who was I kidding? That was never going to happen. Laughter also would’ve been ideal, yet nothing seemed funny.
The antidote to my sour mood finally came when I was busy cooking dinner. I stopped trying and stopped focusing on my low vibration. Preparing a meal distracted me from worrying about my COVID-19 test results, and it distracted me from my lost AirPods.
When I was finally in a better head space, I checked my email, and to my delight, my COVID-19 test came back negative. As for my AirPods, I accepted the fact that I would have to buy a new pair.
So, how do you stay positive when nothing seems to be going your way? Well, I would first suggest trying the techniques listed above. They may work, and they may not. But remember, the problem is the harder you try, the more difficult it might be to flip the switch on your negative headspace.
The best remedy is to let it go. Over and over in your head, say to yourself something like this: “I release my fear and anxiety.” Repeat it one hundred times if you must. It most likely won’t disappear right then and there, but as soon as you put your attention elsewhere, the black clouds hanging over your head will eventually give way to sunshine again.
Although I wasn’t consciously telling myself to let it go, the cooking distraction served as a doorway, allowing the bad thoughts to escape on their own. It may seem like an easy fix on paper, but the best way to learn a new skill is to practice it. The more you become adept at raising your vibration in the face of adversity, the more you will excel in the school of life, and that right there is––the greatest lesson of all.