Often, it seems the whole world is conspiring against us.
Since the mind wants to be right, it reaffirms its helplessness in the face of hard times by using relentless negative self-talk, as in “Yes, I knew things would be this way.”
But the mind can be taught to turn off the negative narrative. It can adopt a different filtering system to create, and keep, a positive narrative. The conversion from negative to positive has the power to completely change your life.
What is the Positive Narrative?
The positive narrative is one in which any problem, difficulty or barrier is seen as an opportunity and not a curse. Adversity is viewed as a chance to learn, become stronger and gain experience.
The positive narrative accepts a bad situation, rather than trying to fight or deny it, and within a short period of time, begins to formulate a strategy to put things right.
Essentially, it is a view of life based on acceptance of what is, and the belief that one can and will, not only cope, but also grow and improve. Knowing this, we replace endless anxiety with a sense of calm, confidence and purpose.
Benefits of the Positive Narrative
New research shows that the positive narrative is far more powerful than previously realized.
- A positive narrative improves the physical make-up of the body, aiding the immune system to fight off disease. Even the effects of the common cold are reduced. People with a positive narrative get sick less often.
- According to the Mayo Clinic, the positive narrative can reduce the risk of heart attacks, lessen the incidents of depression and increase overall lifespan.
- The positive narrative allows us to better cope with life’s ups and downs. Since the positive narrative is based upon corrective action, the subconscious mind worries less. It knows that a strategy will be developed so an injection of hope is sent to the brain’s warning system.
- You will enjoy a greater sense of well-being and purpose to your life, with less negative stress.
One Caveat to the Positive Narrative
Before we discover how the positive narrative is achieved, a quick word of caution. Being overly optimistic can create heightened anxiety when things don’t go our way.
The positive narrative should not be confused with simple “positive thinking”.
At the core of the narrative is acceptance of what is – and so, there must be room for disappointment, anger, sadness and yes, even the occasional bout of maddening frustration.
These emotions should not be supressed and need to run their course. They are integral to the positive narrative which uses acceptance as a pre-requisite to action.
The good news here: the positive narrative ensures that down feelings do not overpower us. While real and needed, feelings of pain and frustration are viewed as short lived – quickly replaced by determination, zeal and the will to overcome.
The 7 Steps to Creating the Positive Narrative
Here is how we can adopt the positive narrative. These steps must be practiced daily in order for the narrative to mature and become the norm.
1- Acceptance: Make a conscious decision to accept everything in your life, including any and all difficult situations. Replace fear and avoidance with an acceptance of life’s ups and downs. Do not exaggerate the significance of barriers, but rather, see them as a vital part of living.
2- Acknowledge the opportunity: After acceptance, acknowledge the fact that difficult times are opportunities to learn, improve and grow. In fact, we must plant the thought in our head that without challenges, there is little or no growth.
3 – Be Creative: After acceptance and acknowledgement comes strategy based upon creativity – thinking outside of the box so that our minds see beyond the local perimeter of a problem or environment. We can, for example, turn a foe into a friend; use kindness rather than anger; or simply outlast a period of adversity. We must see ourselves as empowered to do the unexpected, reacting with confidence rather than intimidation, to melt problems away and destroy their effectiveness. The positive narrative is very much about belief in ourselves. And simply put, you are stronger than your problems.
4- Act: Even if you are not completely certain that you are doing the right thing, action is absolutely vital to the positive narrative. If you cannot decide on the best route to take, carry out any starting point that you understand and that is easy, and proceed. Your journey can always be adjusted later as needed.
5- Be thankful: It may sound strange to be thankful of adverse conditions, but showing gratitude is a vital step in strengthening the positive narrative. It reinforces the fact that difficult times are what produces our growth. To this day, I am still thankful I was once fired because it gave me the skills I acquired to be self-sufficient.
6- Broadcast the lessons:Telling others what we learn from our struggles helps to reinforce the positive narrative and keep it active within us. We are further strengthened knowing that others may gain from our lessons learned – giving us a renewed sense of purpose.
7- Use the language of the positive narrative: This final point is something to be done every moment of every day and is vital to shaping the positive narrative and keeping it in place. You will rid yourself of “negative” phrases such as “I can’t” “I feel bad” “Nothing ever works” “I hate those people” and so on. These will be replaced with “I know that I can” “I feel good” “I am always learning” “I love…” It is very important that your conversations be sprinkled with positive words and phrases.
The Positive Narrative Will Change Your Life
There is no doubt that we’ll be more content and at peace when we adopt the positive narrative regardless of what is happening in our lives.
Even repeated difficulties will not be able to drag us down. We will be strong. We will be resilient.