I like to think I’m a pretty positive person. I try to look on the bright side of things in life and not focus on any negatives. However, this wasn’t always the case. Negativity was so ingrained in me that I rarely saw the positive side of anything. No matter how good something seemed to be, I would point out any downside I saw or thought I saw in the situation. I believe my negativity was both genetic and environmental. My mother was a very negative person and my dad complained a lot, which made for a less than positive household to grow up in. I’m not sure how much negativity I expressed as an only child, but I know as I grew older it often felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster, and it certainly showed. Besides my negativity, I went from feelings of elation to ones of sadness, and always seemed angry about something.
I would start drinking at 18, and as I continued there was little chance of ever developing a more positive attitude in life. I actually became comfortable with the extreme emotions I felt and often used them as an excuse to get drunk. Fortunately, as most of my readers know I stopped drinking in 1996 and found a better way to live; one that included going to Alcoholics Anonymous and practicing the Twelve Steps. However, after going to AA for several years, I found other resources that helped me grow and improve as a person.
One resource I started using a few years ago is something called self-talk. Many times I would mentally tell myself to stop thinking any negative thoughts I had about someone or some situation, and remind myself that any sadness or anger I felt was only temporary. This was hard in the beginning, of course, but it has proven to be an invaluable resource when I have no one to talk to about my emotions.
Talking to others, by the way, is perhaps the best resource we can have to help us in times of emotional upheaval. For some of us this can be harder to do than self-talk, but once we get over our fear of asking for help we start to see the value in it. This more than anything else helped me change my old way of thinking and begin to see the brighter side of things.
No matter how we go about trying to become a more positive person, it starts with changing how we think. When we learn to master our thoughts, we can master how we live, and not be a product of our genes or our environment.