What Can Go Right

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Remember the cartoon character that had the little black cloud over his head all the time? Some days we feel like that poor guy, and don’t know how to outrun that cloud. Here’s the thing, we don’t have to outrun it, we just need to outsmart it. If we stop to analyze a situation and focus on the best in people or situations, the good starts to expand. The sun will come out and burn away that little cloud. When we focus on the negative traits of a person or situation, that is when that little cloud is like glue, and we just can’t find a way out from under it. The negative and positive are both always there, no person or situation is perfect, but if we want the best for ourselves, doesn’t it make sense to focus on the best?

If a situation needs to be changed, I’m not advocating to only focus on the few positive aspects of it, putting on a big fake smile and shoving all the negative stuff under the table. That negative stuff always finds ways to resurface and sometimes it grows when unattended. What I am advocating is, when we focus on the good, we magically see more ways to grow the good and find the strength to overcome the negative. We are able to think of more options, more directions to go. That way of thinking gives us hope, and therefore more energy to continue to improve our situation. If we keep looking for a fight, we are sure to find one. But that kind of thinking leaves us exhausted and feeling battered.

Focusing on the good is hard work. That negative is very powerful, and can easily overwhelm our thoughts. Our minds begin to fill up with all the things that could go wrong, instead of all the things that could go right.

If we turn our attention to all the things that could go right, then our brain starts producing options and ideas. I’m not saying everyone will agree with your ideas, and our situation will immediately become sunny and bright, but we gain more endurance to get through some tough situations if we can see options to improve them. Some tough conversations may need to happen, but if our mind is focused this way, we communicate in a much more open way that people are receptive to, therefore, making our situation a more productive one.

When I was pregnant with my twin girls, I had pre-term labor just shy of 6 months of gestation. Talk about feeling scared and completely out of control! I was put on hospitalized bed rest, and a Neonatologist was sent in to talk to me and my husband. She started ticking off a list of all the things that could go wrong with our babies if they were born right then. As she was going through this list, she actually paused and said, “hmm, let’s see, what else.” If I wasn’t terrified of sitting up, I would have popped her square in her cold-hearted, condescending nose! Now, that would have made me feel better in the moment, but that would have done nothing to improve my situation. So, after she left and I cried my eyes out, my mind went to all the things that I could do to keep my babies safe. I could have easily focused on the list of things that woman told me, and felt hopeless and scared up until the twins were born. Instead, I decided to focus on all the things I could do right to keep them safe.

First, I asked for a different Neonatologist…I never wanted to see that woman’s face again. I needed nurturing at that moment, not a lecture. The new doctor was honest, but kind. Ding! One negative changed to a positive. Then, I did the best I could with my surroundings so that I would focus on things that made me relaxed and happy instead of depressed about this situation. It was what it was, and I needed to stay still to keep those babies safe, so I decided I may as well spend the day seeing things that made me smile. I limited my TV watching as most daytime TV is depressing, read uplifting books, learned to knit, my husband and mom visited every day, my awesome friends brought dinner and hung out, and my father-in-law brought a vanilla DQ shake every time he visited. It was not easy time, but with all of those positives surrounding me, I was better able to pass the time while doing what was right to keep those baby girls safe.

Focusing on the positive didn’t mean I was ignoring the hard reality of the situation…I knew I had to stay in that bed and do what the doctors told me. But because I found and created positives in this situation, I was able to do what I needed to without going into a debilitating depression or leaving because I just couldn’t take it anymore and risking my babies’ lives.

Our complex brains have the ability to focus on whatever we direct them to, irregardless of our situation. Be brave, have compassion for yourself, and focus on the positive. Life can throw some punches, so we need to keep our endurance. Falling victim to negative thinking is exhausting. When we find ways to turn it around, our endurance grows, and we are better not only for ourselves, but also for our loved ones.

All the best,
Christie

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