How can you keep a positive attitude at work when you have a boss that seems closely related to the Neanderthals, co-workers straight out of daytime TV, and a job so boring that if you have to go back one more day you might seriously decide to downsize and live in a yurt?
It’s not easy. When you get home all you want to do is veg out, and even though it’s just not you to be negative, you find yourself kind of depressed and a little grouchy lately.
You’re naturally a friendly people-person and have a good attitude, but if things have gotten bad at work, it can be really hard (even for you) to maintain your sunny disposition.
So, how can you keep that good attitude, and why is it not only preferable, but critical??
Negative Emotions Effect Our Health
Negative emotions not only feel bad emotionally, they also have a negative effect on your body.
The mind-body connection is not some new age sort of “woo-woo” stuff you need to stretch your mind to believe in. In fact, there’s some hard science behind it.
According to The American Institute of Stress, “Job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.”
So it doesn’t feel good, and it’s really not good for you. Your job may in fact be harming your health.
What can you do?
- Recharge: Make sure you’re doing things outside of work that feel like they fill you back up. You can’t survive work if you’re constantly depleted. Figure out what works for you – just make sure it’s a real recharge and not a false one. Real recharges include things like spending time with friends and family, getting outdoors, getting exercise or plenty of hobbies. Relying on things like caffeine to give you a boost though is actually counterproductive.
- Manage Stress: Stress management is key here. Whether you do something that has more long term benefits like yoga or meditation, or you use techniques that help you in a moment of acute stress, like deep breathing, learning to manage your stress is important. It will help you to feel better and minimize the health damaging effects that stress can have on your health. It can also help you keep your cool and not do something you might regret later.
- Take Care of Yourself: When you’re in a very stressful situation, it can be easy to feel like it’s unfair. But no one is going to fix it for you. You are going to have to make a plan to take care of yourself and create a better situation. It’s not easy, but sometimes just knowing that you have the power to change your situation is enough to make you feel a lot better.
- Make Room In Your Life For You: It’s time to make room in your life for you, instead of always taking care of others or neglecting things that are important to you. A bad situation at work can take over everything. Even though you don’t want to think about it, pretty soon, it’s all you can think about. . .Consciously decide to make room for yourself and what you care about so that you are doing what is really important in your life instead of letting it go on the back burner.
Just because your boss and others aren’t supportive at work, it doesn’t have to reflect on you.
Yes, you may get bad feedback at work, and sometimes that’s accurate and you may have learning and growing to do.
But if you believe your workplace is toxic and the negative feedback you get is unwarranted or overblown, you owe it to yourself (and everyone around you) to stay confident and strong.
You have a lot to offer. How can you remember that when people around you insist on tearing you down?
- Listen to people who build you up: Who in your life believes in you? Spend more time with them, and talk with them about your broken confidence.
- Build up your skills: What could be more empowering than knowing you are incredible at something?
- Watch those who are negative: When you watch those who are negative, you’ll notice that they’re usually fearful or angry. If you can see that, you can see that their behavior towards you isn’t really about you. (If you’re really evolved you might even be able to have some compassion.) Seeing that it’s not about you can lessen its sting.
- Get an honest assessment of the situation: Is there anyone who can give you a real look a the situation? Someone who won’t villainize you but who won’t sugar coat things either? Figure out who that person might be and talk the situation over with them. It’s always good to know if you need to improve, but also to not take responsibility or feel bad about things that you shouldn’t.
Energy Vampires and Others’ Negative Thoughts
Is your workplace infested with energy vampires? You know, people who try to suck your good energy dry.
Being surrounded by energy vampires and those who are negative can leave you feeling drained, but being the type of person you are, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Still it’s important to maintain good boundaries so that you can stop feeling overwhelmed, drained and invaded by others.
Remember that learning to say no to some people and things means you get to say yes to people and things that actually matter to you.
Move Through Negativity
I believe that negative thoughts (and even negative experiences) exist to teach us something. The question is what?
You can begin to find out by asking two questions.
1. What does the negative thought (or experience) represent? Just like in therapy or in dreams, an experience might be trying to teach you something on two different levels.
The first level is the literal level: What does this literally mean? So, for example, if you think your boss is a bully, what does it mean literally? Maybe that he has anger issues and that you are upset and intimidated by them.
The second level is more of a figurative level: What does this mean more deeply? Search your past for clues. Have you seen this energy or story before in your life? Have you encountered a similar personality? Have the feelings you’re feeling now come up for you before? Where? Are you feeling challenged by what you need to do in this situation? Does it feel like a direction of growth for you?
2. What can I learn from the negative thought (or experience)? This is the second question. You can learn from your negative thoughts and experiences on both of the levels above.
Literally, you may be able to deal with the present day situation more effectively.
On the figurative level, you can examine where you need to grow emotionally and use your present day situation as a “playground” for doing that.
Knowing that adversity is part of life and is in fact, necessary for growth can help you come to terms with what is happening now and to see it as a growing experience – even though you’re working to get through it and onto something better. Recognizing this can make you a more positive person overall.
Just because you’re accepting what is and you’re learning from it, doesn’t mean you’re settling for it. So come to peace with the idea of going through something and gaining what you can from it, even though you know you’re not there to stay.
How To Have A Positive Attitude
One of the keys to having a positive attitude at work (or in general) is feeling like you can handle life, and that feeling is related to mental strength.
Mental strength is about resiliency, feeling a sense of agency, and an overall optimism. The good news is you can grow yours.
Being mentally stronger doesn’t mean you won’t have bad thoughts though. Everyone does.
But try this exercise: you can separate yourself from the thought and recognize it for what it is, understand its source, practice letting it go and being calm. This can help you to control your negative thoughts instead of having them control you. You can even trigger more positive emotions through simple exercises, so as much as it might feel like our emotions are taking us for a ride sometimes, the truth is we have more control than we think.
This is really, super important. Don’t skip this section.
All of the ideas so far are meant to help you cope with your bad career and keep a positive attitude at work. But it all starts to fall apart if you have to keep it up forever.
You really need to set goals to remove yourself from your bad situation or no matter how awesome your positive attitude is, sooner or later you will crack under the sheer weight of your negative situation.
You must do something to change what’s happening.
That’s where your career goals come in.
So what are they?
Leaving your department? Job? Career? Moving on to something incredible?
Whatever you do, don’t let suffering at your current job continue indefinitely.
I know you probably have some fears or negative thoughts about your own ability to make changes.
It’s so important that you work on those negative thoughts just as much as you work on ridding yourself from the negativity that comes home with you after each miserable day – maybe even more so.
You can make long term changes to get out of your miserable work situation – not just cope with it.
Be The Person YOU Want To Be
There’s nothing like a bad situation to make you devolve into someone you don’t want to be. But here’s your chance to live up to your own standards. You can choose not to engage in office politics, pettiness, meanness or gossip.
You can stay confident and kind even when others are not being that way. It isn’t easy, but you have do decide how you feel about yourself and your behavior, and if you want to define you or if you will allow the situation to define you.
Positive Thinking Tips
Last, here are some quick tips on how to maintain your positive thinking, because, like a muscle, you have to keep working it!
Maintain and grow your positive thinking with 97 Brilliant Success Books For Your Most Epic Year Ever. Reading about how to be more positive, grow your mental strength and resiliency, how to be more successful and more brilliant overall will only help you.
Quotes, motivational pictures, and other inspirational things like blogs will help you stay in the right frame of mind.
There may be nothing more important than removing yourself from your situation. Figure out how with my Career Plan Template.
Create and use a support system. Doing this alone is hard! Family, friends or a coach can help you navigate one of the toughest situations you’ll ever encounter.
Make sure you maintain a great life outside of work. Have fun, recharge, stay happy. There’s more to life than work. Make sure that’s true for you too!
Positive Attitude At Work
Even when things are bad, there are things you can do to maintain a positive attitude at work.
One of the keys, though, while you’re working on surviving, is building a plan for escaping your bad situation. Your survival plan is only meant to be a short-term strategy. In the long run, you want to have a hopeful, inspiring outlook on your future.
What do you think? Is there anything I missed? What prevents you from maintaining a positive attitude at work? Please let me know in the comments below!
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