We hear so often that having a positive attitude is one of the most important keys to happiness and success. As young professionals, with so much life left in front of us, all we want to do is look and move forward with optimism and hope. This may sound all well-and-good in theory, but such an attitude has created a large sector of young professionals so fearful of failure that they have subsequently chosen to live in the ignorance of all things negative. Keeping a positive attitude is definitely a powerful and important facet of succeeding as a young professional, but this mantra does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to the negatives in our lives. Recognizing the existence of the bad stuff has its place in the MO of successful YPs, and here’s why:
Ignoring it won’t make it go away
From the deep-rooted issues of our past, to the nagging little incident from last week, big and small negative events, feelings, and thoughts do not fix themselves on their own. Like ignoring old leftovers way the in back of the fridge, negative thoughts fester and rot the longer that they are left unattended. It may work for a while, even appear as though things have just figured themselves out, but more often than not it is only a temporary fix. Eventually, bottled-up negatives will start to stink again, often even worse than before, and the longer you leave them, the harder the mess may be to clean up.
Acknowledgment isn’t confirmation
Common strategies for dealing with negative areas of our lives include talking with a professional or loved one, or writing in a journal. Many YPs, however, fear that bringing certain issues to light in these ways can make them seem all too real. What needs to be realized is that talking about our feelings or writing down our thoughts doesn’t make them permanent and everlasting; in fact, the opposite is true. If you’ve treated a colleague or partner poorly, have done something wrong at work, or are having doubts about your abilities, only by acknowledging these things can you then conceptualize, reflect, and, most importantly, move on. The ability to release negatives by recognizing and working through them, showcases just how impermanent such thoughts really are.
Negative ≠ Weak
Another common misconception amongst YPs is that the negatives in our lives are a source of weakness, and that to compensate for them we need to be strong and positive at all times. This is evident in the “fake it ‘til ya make it” mentality that runs so rampant in our YP world. Instead, recognizing the negative features of our lives and character should be considered opportunities, occasions to work on ourselves, face challenges, learn, overcome, and build genuine strength and self-confidence.
Illuminate…and walk away
Ignoring the negative takes mental and emotional effort that could be put to better use in other areas of our lives. Only by giving those worrisome thoughts or sad feelings the attention that they require can we then free up our time and energy to be positively productive in other important tasks. Research has proven that recognizing and reflecting on negative events and feelings, in ways such as talking and writing, can help improve emotional, mental, and even physical health. So don’t be afraid of the dark corners in your life; illuminate them, look deep inside, acknowledge what’s there, see it in a new light . . . and then most importantly, find strength in your ability to finally walk away.