How to see the positive side of a negative situation?

Updated: May 22, 2019

Oh man! This question is so tricky! I used to struggle so much to see the positive side of some situation and even now I am in conflict with my own self regarding things that happened to me. Today I will be that positive warrior, the one inside me who spends hours studying situations in order to extract the positive from it.

“A belief is not merely an idea the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind”

Robert Oxton Bolton

The power of a belief

I grew up in a very religious family. 2 parents. 2 faiths. 2 religions. I described it in one my previous article. Therefore, I grew up with a lot of beliefs. I was not really used to question things. I remember being one of those kids who just trust adults, believe what they say.

The fact that I was not (most of us are not) taught how to THINK is why I had many issues later in life. There is one story I would like to share:

When I was about 13 years old, my dad (Dad if you are reading this, just know that I love you to bits!) started mocking me. He would tease me about how stupid he thought I was. He had a song for it. He would sing it every so often to make a point. Every time, it was just painful. It made me sad to see that my dad thought I was stupid. So much so that he would make up a song about it.

I did not question his opinion about me. I thought he was right. He was an educated man, who's done very well for himself. He had this natural authority. His opinion about me meant a lot to me and my grades at school were not up to his standards.

At school I was doing the minimum, thinking that realistically I could not do much more considering my limited abilities. I just made sure I would not repeat a class because dad would have simply made my life a living hell! None of my siblings before me repeated a class so... The message was pretty clear! My dad was using tough love with us all. He wanted the best out of us and nothing less.

I started thinking about ways to become intelligent. I looked around and saw that the intelligent adults in my life (firstly my parents) read a lot. They went a lot to the cinema as well. Watched documentaries as well. Had debates. So I started doing the same: reading, learning anything about anything. At 14 years old I was reading books about the role of France in the war in Rwanda, The Bible Code, and God knows what else but clearly not teenager's literature. I was spending hours in front of National Geographic channel. I did not want to miss a movie or an album! Music, was also important and I started listening to classical music as well. Intelligent people do that. They distinguish Bach from Schubert from Beethoven.

Using any ways I could find, I started this hunt for knowledge as a solution to my supposedly stupidity and I did not know when I would have read enough, seen enough documentaries, etc to jump into the group of "the intelligent". I was also getting nowhere with classical music so my hopes were not very high... This belief that I was stupid just stayed with me like a good old friend. We were trying to sort out the issue.

And then one day, life takes me to Luxembourg and pushes me to find anything to study at the University of Luxembourg. I found a Master in Psychology. I quickly read the curriculum, sent my application and prayed that they would let me in. I was called for an interview. During the interview the Head of the Master kept asking me whether I was sure about my choice because they would be a lot of math and all of it in English (I was no where near fluent at that stage of my life). I just kept reassuring him that it would not be an issue at all! Little did he know what was actually going on in my head:

I was like: "Math? in English? What is he on about?

Basically, I had very quickly read the curriculum, not realising that the Master was about psychometric and fully in English apart for some topics... My dad's song just kept playing up in my head... --'

I got into the class, worked my a** off for two years and got my Master in Psychology - Evaluation and Assessment. I just could not believe what I did and those 2 years proved to myself that I was not stupid! In 2 years, I became fluent in English, wrote a thesis in English about psychometric, managed to fit into an environment which I knew nothing about before simply jumping into it! Intelligence, I discovered was not about academics it was about the ability to adapt to a given situation and I did exactly that and I had been doing that for many years without knowing it.

The power that I gave to my dad's words at that point vanished. The positive side of the story: I read so much about so many random topics that I could discuss anything with anyone, I could follow psychology classes even though my first years at Uni were not about psychology. I thought I was stupid so I was not afraid of asking questions in class therefore helping me to clarify things quickly, etc, etc. I thought there is nothing wrong with being stupid as long as I knew it! All I wanted was to change that situation and prove my dad wrong (this is my grand ma's stubbornness, I can tell you about her later). I thank my dad for his tough love because it made me know so much about random stuff.

It's all about perspective

There are 2 important things to remember when we want to see the positive side of a situation that we judge negative:

- Why is it negative? In the example above it is negative for my self-esteem.

- What lesson do I learn from this negative experience? My self-esteem is fragile. I have to understand what it is made of and find materials to make it stronger.

Those two questions can be used every day in any situation. I used to be angry when someone would not say "hi" back to me in the morning. It was negative because they would ignore me, making me feel invisible. I quickly realised that I was not invisible even if they refuse categorically to acknowledge me. The lesson learned is that I am in charge of my self-confidence and I decide what matters and what does not. Taking back the control of our emotions and not being a puppet manipulated by them is the most important step you want can take towards a better life. We ARE NOT emotions, we only FEEL them.

The thing about perspective is that it is an active process to shift it. It does not happen on its own. It is an ACTION.

How much do you want to change your perspective? Would you rather see the glass half empty all your life or do you fancy experiencing seeing the glass half full every day?

I hope you enjoyed this article, if it helped you please share so it can help more people and subscribe to never miss it again!

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Sawubonasana is a space where you can be yourself, recognized and loved just the way you are. Sawubona means "I see you and by seeing you I bring you into being", Asana means posture, way of living. I've chosen this name for my website because I want to live a life where I see you, I acknowledge your existence and love your uniqueness. In this space you can love yourself, lick your wounds and heal them with love and compassion. You can book a coaching session with me by clicking here.

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