Facing tough times, challenging situations or just feeling down are common. Each of us face it everyday. In each of those moments, we have a choice to make. A choice to perceive it as negative or positive. A choice to look for the good or the bad. A choice to be made. You might not have looked at it as a choice, and in fact, it is a decision to be made. That decision will determine if you are a positive or negative person. Each of us will have a natural personality where our perception of situations will either be negative or positive. However, each of us has the ability to change the way we perceive a situation from negative to positive or from a positive to a negative. To do that, a choice is made. Hence, how do we make that choice?
I have observed these 3 key factors:
1. Be objective. To view a situation as it is. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to write it down. Write down the situation. Outline the issue or problem. State the problem. Once you have written it down, your mind is now able to visualise the situation in a different manner. For example, you could feel that everyone in the workplace is against me. Write the situation down and it might look like this:
A was pointing out my mistake in a meeting which was to review a campaign. All the action items that were noted down, I was the owner of it. I have so much on my plate and no one is helping me.
- What was the mistake? What can I learn from it?
- Are those action items under my responsibilities?
- If I need help, who can I ask for help?
Now identify the issue:
- The issue or mistake could be : not following up on a lead on time.
- Learning: Need to have a reminder in place to follow-up on lead
- Action Items: schedule time in calendar to follow-up on client.
- Help required?: Not this time.
Once you are able to write down the problem and break it down to smaller bits, attach questions and solutions to them. As per the example above, the issue isn’t that everyone is against you, the issue to solve is owning to a mistake and solving it.
2. Look for the solution or learnings from the situation. Focus on thought process of what you have learned out of the situation and how it is able to help you in the future. Write it down so that you don’t forget. Journaling is a great way of doing this. I used to not take the advise of journaling seriously until one day I tried it and find it to be an amazing process of finding clarity and germs from learning in any situation. I am a visual person, hence writing things out and reading it brings out a certain clarity. If you are a verbal person, talk it out loud. Yes you might seem crazy, but talking it out loud (not just self talk in your head), can bring out clarity and problem solving to you as you process the information surround the situation.
3. Decision to be made and to act upon. You now have a decision to be made. A decision to arm yourself with the learnings and action items and take the step forward or not. The choice to wallow in self-pity or to get up and take the next step in a positive manner. We all know that positive people are not perfect. The difference is that they see a silver lining in everyone and chooses to focus on the good vs. the bad. To make that change if you are naturally negative is hard. However, be encouraged that with every small effort that you make to view a situation in a positive light, will over time build the “positive mindset” muscle.
In all situation, there is always something to gain from it. To learn what NOT to do is a silver lining. To learn how to respond differently next time is a silver lining. It is highly unfortunate that I learn most through tough situations and I know that because of it, I don’t forget. What about you? How do you find the silver lining in a tough situation?