Life can feel like a rollercoaster. It’s filled with highs and lows. The ebbs and flows of our emotions are often connected to our present situations. How things are going that hour, that day, that week.
One minute, you could feel like a superwoman, ready to take on the world. It feels like nothing is impossible. You feel confident. You feel strong. It feels good to be in your own skin. Those moments are glorious and empowering.
But then something happens. The weather changes, plans fall through, your toddler wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, you go out on a limb to put yourself out there only to be let down, an accident happens, and life takes you down a road you don’t want to be on. The list goes on.
And just like that, your high becomes a low. You feel vulnerable, let down, discouraged, and maybe even scared.
The emotions come quickly. Your mind starts going to places you do not like. You head into a spiral of negative thoughts. Those once confident and happy feelings you had are now overshadowed by negative ones. They become bigger. They take on a life of their own, and soon it’s as if the positives never existed.
Getting yourself out of a negative place can feel impossible when you’re in the thick of it. You feel stuck. You feel bad. You feel inadequate. You feel short-tempered. That confident and empowered you seems light-years away.
But as a clinical social worker, I believe in change and the power of thought and taking action. Here are six steps to help get you out of that negative place.
1. Admit It
The first step to getting out of a negative place is to admit that you are in a negative place. Being in a negative place is both physically and emotionally exhausting. It can suck the life out of you. You might not realize how negative of a place you are in until loved ones point it out to you. They might ask, “What is wrong?” or bluntly say, “You’re so negative lately.” It might take someone else noticing our negativity for us to stop in our tracks and evaluate ourselves. Once you have acknowledged and accepted that you are in a negative place, you can begin to take steps to get yourself out.
2. Get Vulnerable
After admitting you are in a negative place, you can feel ashamed, weak, and guilty for succumbing to life’s uncertainties. You may think you should have a stronger character than that. This realization can make you want to wallow in those negative thoughts and emotions even more. But then you must realize that you are human, and because you are human, it is difficult not to be affected by environmental factors, other people, and situations outside of our control. Once you accept and honor this imperfect part of you, you can move on to the next phase.
3. Identify What is Out of Your Control
Consciously acknowledge what is out of your control. It will probably feel uncomfortable, but it can also be freeing. Let go of the things and circumstances you cannot control and focus your energy on the things you can. It will be much better served.
4. Focus on the Positive
Make a conscious effort to focus on the good and the positives. This can be a mental note, or you can list things you are thankful for, what is going well in your life or even past successes. Focusing your attention on the positives helps to put things in perspective and gives the negatives less power.
5. Get in Alignment
At this point, the negative thoughts carry less weight, but they still have the power to become bigger if you let them. Don’t! Use this time to align with how you see your best self. Think back to the times when you felt good about yourself. Why were those good days? What was going on? What did you do to make it happen? Commit to taking action and doing things that have in the past made you feel good, confident, and proud. Help others, go for a walk, engage in a fun activity, surround yourself with people who make you feel good, and utilize God’s gifts.
6. Reflect and Move Forward
Uncomfortable and difficult situations often have lessons to teach us. They provide us with an opportunity for personal growth. So ask yourself, “What have I learned from this experience?” Reflect on that. Honor where you have been, where you are now, and where you want to be. Take steps to move forward. And hold that head high. Hold it high.