Birch Tree Psychology

Specializing in Therapy for Children, Adults, and Families


Turn a Negative Into a Positive

Posted by Brittany on March 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

How do you typically handle life’s little setbacks? Do you dwell on the problem? Do you ignore it? Do you tackle it head on and move past it? I don’t know how many of us enjoy life’s curveballs, but how we handle problems and look back at them at the end of the day can have a significant effect on our moods. There is a tremendous amount of research that has shown how gratitude can have positive effects on us and some new studies have examined Gratitude for Challenges. Research has shown that when people shift their thinking to be grateful for challenges, they not only overcome whatever problem they are facing, but they also live happier lives. This reminds me of the Chinese symbol for Crisis, which is made up from two words, Danger and Opportunity!
Nietzsche declared, "What does not kill me, makes me stronger." When I think of this saying, people that have overcome great adversity comes to my mind. The ability to turn a negative experience into a positive experience can be a great strength and is an extremely beneficial skill for people to have. Research has studied the effects of turning a negative into a positive and has found that people that are able to do this feel happier, think more creatively, and are able to look at their lives more optimistically.
Here is a recent example of how I was able to reframe an event and turn a negative into a positive. I was driving to meet a friend for lunch that I was really looking forward to seeing. I drove out of my way and left early to get to lunch on time because I pride myself on being punctual. After I arrived at the restaurant, my friend texted me and let me know that he was held up at work and would not be able to meet me. I felt disappointed and frustrated. I love a good meal and was hungry so I was definitely staying for lunch. I could spend my lunch focused on my disappointment or try to enjoy my lunch and focus on what I did have in that moment. It was a beautiful day, I was about to enjoy a meal that I was looking forward to, and I have a schedule flexible enough to be out in the middle of the day. After I started to think about the positive aspects of the situation, I began to feel grateful for what I did have. In turn, I felt happier and noticed that the guy sitting next to me was wearing a Surfer shirt. I struck up a conversation with him and we realized that we surf the same break. I spent my lunch talking and by the end I had gained a friend. By shifting from disappointment to gratitude, I was able to change a negative situation into a positive one.
Try this- For the next week, at the end of each day think of something that bothered you and try to reframe it as possibly a positive event. Think about how this event may have been a blessing in disguise. Ask yourself, how could I turn this to my advantage? Which one of my skills or strengths can I use to face this problem? If nothing else, think about what you may have learned from the experience. If you can do this, you can learn to be grateful for life's challenges.

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