Seeing the Positive in a Negative Situation

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IMG 72632 thumb   Seeing the Positive in a Negative Situation

If there’s one thing that unites us all, it’s that we all suffer. We all triumph. We face obstacles in our lives and encounter things that throw us off our course and challenge our inner strength. That’s life, with the lesson often seen in retrospect. Without the difficult times, there would be no great times. Everything would just seem flat and uneventful, plain and boring.

There would be no impactful change without struggle. The beauty of life is overcoming what we think we cannot. Our self-esteem grows and we find strength in ourselves that we never knew existed.

This very point had me thinking about various struggles that I’ve been through in my life. I remember focusing mostly on the negative aspects of the situation. How badly I felt, how crappy the situation was, and how much I didn’t think things would ever change. Blah, blah, blah. It’s a vicious cycle.

But what if we focus on how our struggles change us and our lives for the better?

Would it be possible to improve negative situations, if we thought about how we might benefit from them?

When I was unhappy with my research career, all I could think about was how much I screwed up my life. I went to university for 7 years training as a researcher only to discover that I basically loathed it. So many days I would curse myself for making such a huge mistake in my life and going down the wrong path.

My negative thoughts were so powerful, I almost convinced myself that it was better to just live the rest of my life unfulfilled than face the alternative (change). I told myself that I could do what I wanted when I retired. I was 25 years old at the time!

That’s when I realized that I could rot in my own negativity or I could see things in a different light. Instead of cursing myself and “mistakes” (I’d rather call them “learning experiences”), I searched for lessons and meaning.

What was my unhappiness trying to tell me?

How was this discomfort nudging me to make a change in my life?

Without taking the wrong career path, I wouldn’t have found the happiness I have with my career today. I started this blog as a hobby while I worked as a researcher. It was something I could work on during my own free time and it brought me so much happiness that I spent most of my free time working on it. What started as a distraction from my real life became the thing that gave me life.

Little did I know, this hobby would not only serve as the catalyst for eventually leaving my unfulfilling career and starting my own business, but it would also lead me to discover my real passions in life.

Most surprisingly of all, I now see struggles in a new light. Instead of cursing an uncomfortable time, I see it as a message to change. Whether I listen or not is up to me.

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Previous Daily Glow posts: What is Daily Glow?, Graduation Fears, The Silly Things We Say, Do What You Can…Today, What’s Your 6-Word Love Story?, Without Self-Love, I Have Nothing., Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, Kicking the Pop Habit: Eric 1 Year Later, Weekend Inspiration

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{ 112 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara October 18, 2011

It’s so true that change needs a catalyst. More often than not that catalyst is something negative forcing us to react. It’s difficult to see in the face of negativity that a new door is opening, but it always does. We have to listen to our intuition and demand more for ourselves. It’s never too late. Great post!

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Ashley October 18, 2011

Such a beautiful message– I understand being there and feeling like I’ve gone down the wrong path. I realized during my senior year of college that the path I’d chosen wasn’t necessarily the path I ever wanted to pursue, and I felt ashamed. But about a year ago today, I made a leap to quit my job, and work from home doing something I’ve completely fallen in love with. It allows me to focus on what I love most.
This was very uplifting to read- it seems so easy to focus on the negative, and so hard to think about the positive. But even though it’s hard work, it will pay off!
Have a great day!

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Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove October 18, 2011

It’s so true. Sometimes we just need something to push us in the right direction. What a great post – and so motivational that we, too, can do what will make us happy!

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Faith @ For the Health of It October 18, 2011

You have no idea how perfectly timed this post was, Angela. I’ve been struggling with a less-than-ideal situation myself and it’s been so much focus on the negative that I’ve forgotten how to appreciate the good things about my situation. That has led to so much stress and I’ve found myself growing more and more uptight, almost to the point where its wrecking my relationships. It’s really ugly, and I know that I HAVE to change it – NOW. I’ll take a good look at what my unhappiness is trying to tell me. Hopefully that will help me smooth things over and correct the issues that are causing me all of this stress. Thank you again for your always-inspirational posts!

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape October 18, 2011

So beautifully written. I’m graduating college soon and struggling with the typical worries that plague people having to actually enter the real world. I’m lucky in that I’m going to grad school–so at least I have some sort of plan, but it’s still nerve wracking. This is exactly what I needed to read this morning! Thank you for sharing!

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit October 18, 2011

It’s all about listening, that’s so true! I just wrote a post over the weekend about living a fullfilled life and doing what is best for us, regardless of the fear of change.
This came from a decision I’d made recently – booking a 3 week trip to India… by myself. This is not something I would have ever ever thought of doing even a year ago, but I listened, and this is what came up. So regardless of how scared I was, I pushed forward.

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table October 18, 2011

Good timing! My boss and I just decided yesterday that we are only going to frame things in a positive light from now on. Too much negativity males the days longer and it is certainly contagious!

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Carolyn @ HealthKitten.com October 18, 2011

I’m in that moment of negativity right now with my job. A job that started out being something I loved, due to business changes and growth, is turning into something I dislike immensely.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching about what the next steps should be. I know a move is in order – thinking San Francisco or elsewhere on the west coast – and a change of career is looming large. But the big question is “what do I do instead of what I’m doing now?”

I’ve been lucky throughout my life; when faced with insurmountable changes, things eventually work out for the better and I’m a stronger person for the struggle.

Great post, Ange!

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Britt @runwithbritt October 18, 2011

Thank you so so much for this post. I’ve recently hit a rough patch in my life and I’ve been feeling very pessimistic. This is just what I needed to get me thru the day. Thanks again so much!

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Whitney October 18, 2011

This is so beautiful, Angela. And just the right time, too. I’m facing similar thoughts so often about how I SCREWED UP and chose the wrong path… I’m so unhappy with my current job… but I want to change. I’m trying to remember the old adage that “everything happens for a reason” and that I am meant to be where I am today, in order to lead me to where I’ll eventually be. This afternoon, I’m speaking with an admissions rep to get enrolled to go back to school and be certified as a health coach. I spend so much of my time (enjoying!) focusing on my health and wanting to help others, this finally seems like the right path. But it’s a scary leap into the unknown. Seeing other young 20-somethings out there like yourself really inspires me to believe I CAN run my own business and be happy. I don’t need to settle.

Thank you!

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Beth - Tasty Yummies October 18, 2011

What a wonderful post and I agree with you. The exact same thought-process is how I came to be exactly where I am now. I had a job I was very unhappy with before I decided I wanted to work for myself, I actually look back at that miserable job with so much fondness now that I have moved on to much bigger and better things. It was an incredible stepping stone that has allowed me to see what I do and don’t want for my life, both professionally and personally. I try to look at every experience that way now. It is inevitable that we sometimes are faced with unfavorable situations and sometimes that negativity can creep back into our lives without us even seeing it. It is how we handle ourselves in those situations that really shapes us and allows us to not only move on, but to grow.
This post couldn’t come at a better time. It is such a great reminder for me. Personally right now I am trying to find the positive in severely injuring my back over 2 weeks ago. Beyond the pain, it has caused me to have to take a break from my daily yoga practice and it has definitely affected my mood. Last week I decided that I have to look at it as a blessing that it happened now and that I will be able to not only heal and bounce back, but I will also learn what I can do in my yoga practice to strengthen my back (and my entire body really) to ensure it doesn’t happen again. I now realize I am lucky that it is happening now when I am still young, so I can hopefully keep it from happening again when I am older and unable to bounce back.

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Sarah October 18, 2011

One of the lessons I picked up along the way when I was going through some mah-jah infertility/loss struggles was that if we’re still going through the hard time, chances are we still have a lesson to learn. That gave me a great new perspective, even if the situation hadn’t changed. It at least gave some purpose to the suffering and that’s exactly what you’ve identified. You are well on your way to positive :)

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Alex October 18, 2011

Thank u very much for these words. I’m trying to go on after being told by my boyfriend, that he doesn’t know if he wants to continue our relationship.
We’re going to give it a try, but I’m sooooooo scared!

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Cara @ EAT. PRAY. RUN. October 18, 2011

You are so inspirational to so many for literally chasing your dreams AND catching them. I definitely feel the desire to persue my true passions and am currently dabbling in the details. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Lys October 18, 2011

Wonderfully written. I’m in a rut right now too, also in research, wondering where I should go in my life. But thank you for sharing your experience, as I think I’ll keep writing, seeing where that takes me, and if I truly can’t see myself at my job next year, I may also take the leap in doing something new. I’m off to a later start than you (30, gah!) but I hope that with time, what I love will preservere and I can become one of the (what seems like the) few that can make this into something ‘real.’ Thanks for always being so refreshingly honest in your posts!

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Aine @ Something to Chew Over October 18, 2011

Unhappiness is the strongest motivation for change that I know – if I’m not happy I immediately think ‘what can I do to be happy again’ ?

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tweal October 18, 2011

Great post Angela. I feel much the same way as you – I spent many years working as a hair stylist, and when I got bored of that, I became a holistic nutritionist. Within a few months I realized it was not the career for me, and I felt terrible about it. Why did I leave hair for something I don’t even like doing and can’t seem to get paid for?? I wallowed in self pity for a while, unsure of what to do next and scared to make a change for fear I would fail (as I felt I did with nutrition). Then one day I began sewing again just for fun, and it took off from there. I now know that if I’d never become a nutritionist, I would not have tweal or be where I am today. I couldn’t connect the dots as they were coming to me, but looking back, I definitely see them.

Life sure does work in mysterious ways, doesn’t it?? :)

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Emily October 18, 2011

Great post!

I love reading your insights on topics like this. You are a true inspiration! Keep up the great work.

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Julie @ Shining From Within October 18, 2011

I needed to hear this today <3

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Jenny @ Simply Be...me October 18, 2011

This is wonderful. My husband says the same thing to me a lot and often wonders why I choose to be stressed out when I don’t have to be. I don’t know why but I’m working on it! I love these posts just as much as your recipes.

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Michelle October 18, 2011

First off Angela, I’d like to thank you for this blog. Your recipes are amazing and inspiring. I’ve introduced a number of my friends to your site and we all love it!
This topic is similar to something that my husband wrote in his blog today. Circumstances beyond our control sometimes cause us to change the direction in our lives… often with positive consequences!

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Cait's Plate October 18, 2011

LOVED this post and I absolutely couldn’t agree more with what you said here!

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Char @ www.charskitchen.ca October 18, 2011

Beautiful message! Though it’s definitely hard sometimes to find the good in a bad situation, it’s always easy to look back & see what wonderful event came of it. I really believe that everything happens for a reason, & I couldn’t be happier with everything I’ve been blessed with :)

Have a beautiful day, Angela!

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Sara October 18, 2011

I was just talking to my best friend about this last night. How I feel like I screwed myself over, going 6 years of schooling for engineering to find out that I really dont like the jobs that it has to offer me! Thank you for reinstating hope in the future that I might one day find something that I love to do, and that I’m not trapped. Because I am 24 right now, and I was thinking the same thing you were thinking!

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AGS October 18, 2011

Very true. I’m trying to practise a combination of patience and forward thinking in my current situation. I find that talking with others who have gone/are going through a difficult situation (but are also staying positive with a plan of attack) is really useful. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy reading your blog!

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Lauren @ What Lauren Likes October 18, 2011

Amazing post! I definetly needed to read something like this today :)

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Amanda October 18, 2011

I can really relate to this post, having recently left my 9-5 to pursue freelance work and writing (via my blog). I was very unhappy for a couple of years in my career and I’m not one of those people who can compartmentalize things, so it took a big toll on all aspects of my life. It took me a solid year to figure out what I could do to create a happier life, and moving all the way across the country to push myself out of my comfort zone and realize what truly matters to me.

It’s a slow process figuring out what’s next and determining how I’ll get there, but the biggest thing I realized this year is that I don’t have to have everything figured out. Rather than letting fear of the unknown paralyze me, I can take small steps every day to create a more fulfilling career, relationship, etc. I’m getting there. :)

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Brandina October 18, 2011

You have totally hit it head on with this post. One of the most difficult (and traumatic) experiences of my life resulted in years of recovery time, but once I did, I learned the most important lesson of all. I could continue on feeling sorry for myself and wallowing in my misery over my reluctance to simply accept what had happened, or I could do just that, accept what happened and move forward. I chose the latter, but it took almost 10 years for me to reach that point. Now, when I do tell the story, it always ends with my admission of learning the most valuable lessons of my life because of it. The saying “every cloud has a silver lining” is true, but you have to be willing to see it.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 18, 2011

I’m so happy to hear that you’ve chosen to move forward despite your struggles, and I’m sure, sharing your story with others is part of the healing process.

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Cheryl October 18, 2011

Thanks for the inspirational post Angela, I too needed to read that today. It can be so hard to be positive amongst the bad times but that is when it is more vital than ever. Finding myself in a new job that I dislike, just like the previous god-knows-how-many office jobs I’ve hated I know I’m going to have to dig deep for the positives and get myself through this into a better situation.

I think one of the best side effects of positive thinking is the increase in self belief that it gives us – when we see we can get ourselves through the tough times, it shows our true strength and ability to take on more than we ever thought.

Well done for trusting yourself enough to go for what you wanted, and for allowing yourself to leave behind the things that you knew were making you miserable, I hope I can do the same! x

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Kris | iheartwellness.com October 18, 2011

I couldn’t agree more with you doll!! I think you set a path for a lot of other women who are struggling like you once were and you can show them how you can live a passion~ful, purposeful life!! We all deserve it! That is a lot of the struggle…we don’t believe we deserve it…but we do :)

xxoo

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Lindsay @ biking before bed October 18, 2011

I think one of the main reasons I was drawn to blogging was finding people who had similar experiences and could help me grow as a person. This was just the post I needed to read today. I struggled to stay focused at work this morning in my job that I don’t love. I am actively pursuing other options, but sometimes its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reminding me to take one step at a time and focus on all of the positives that will come out of every situation.

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lindsay October 18, 2011

amen to that! we can look back at our struggles and see how far we’ve come, the strength we found through it, and the people who NEVER LET US GO! I am grateful for that as well.

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Ann @ Running With Chopstix October 18, 2011

I love Daily Glow posts! I’m always inspired by how you can make the most of any situation.

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Bethany :0) October 18, 2011

Another well-timed post during a difficult time in my career (and by extension personal) life as well. I think I know what I need to do (feelings of crisis ebb and flow at random), but in order to not burn bridges and save some money before my transition, I’m stuck in a job that no longer feeds me. This past week I’ve forgotten to stay focused on the positive as I’ve sunk deeper into boredom and the black hole of feeling like I’m wasting my time and life. Thank you so much for the reminder to refocus on the growth that is blossoming from the challenges. You’re absolutely right and such an inspriration!

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cityjess84 October 18, 2011

Thanks for posting this Angela! Like many of the other women who have commented, I’m in a similar situation at a job I really don’t like. I’m applying to graduate school in something I really love, but it’s hard to stay positive and patient while I’m taking small steps to change things. Your post reminded me of a quote that a few friends have posted on facebook:

“View your life With Kindsight. Stop beating yourself up about things from your past. Instead of slapping your forehead and asking: ‘What was I thinking?’ breathe and ask yourself ‘What was I learning?’” – notsalmon.com

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VeggieGirl October 18, 2011

Thank you for such a real/positive post! I didnt have the money/lived in the wrong countries to go to college and had to wait until I was 24. I felt bad in one way- but in another I’m blessed as who KNOWs what I would have thought to study at 18- something my parents would have asked me to for sure!

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Tichina October 18, 2011

I’ve been wishing and waiting for another “daily glow series”. I’m sure that while blogging about such topics are therapeutic for you and help you zone in on your growth as a reader they have a major uplifting effect…one that can’t be beat! Seeing the progress another person has made is sometimes the best kind of medicine. I look forward to reading more Angela :)

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Amber K October 18, 2011

You have such a great grasp on this Angela. I sometimes falter in my ability to look on the bright side in general, but the positive in a negative? That’s even tougher. You inspire me to stretch my mind and soul. <–sounds cheesy, but it's true!

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Rebecca October 18, 2011

Thank you for your inspirational words Angela! I’m struggling after recently receiving excruciating news – I read your blog everyday, and today I found hope and comfort in your words at a time when I need them most. Thank you.

I also found Cheryl’s comment uplifting; thanks Cheryl.
“I think one of the best side effects of positive thinking is the increase in self belief that it gives us – when we see we can get ourselves through the tough times, it shows our true strength and ability to take on more than we ever thought.”

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Anna @ the Guiltless Life October 18, 2011

I used to be really negative too as I have a lot of anxiety and it just created all of this negativity. Then I realized that I really liked spending time with people who were super positive and realized that it was infectious! So then I started deliberately changing every negative thought into a positive one; even if it seemed stupid. Now I generally find that my first instinct is to think positively rather than negatively.

It takes time to retrain our brains but it’s so worth it! All of a sudden your life will turn and you’ll realize you controlled your happiness all along! Thanks for the post Angela, I’m so glad you’re doing what you love to do :).

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