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  • David Strittmatter

Talking shit about a bad situation is fun, but…

If you have a positive frame of mind, you can manifest positive things in your life - Alesha Dixon
Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Dear friend,


I used to work on a consulting project that was a hell of a job: Long hours late into the night, hours wasted due to misalignment between stakeholders, more work in scope than feasible in the project timeline, etc.


There are 2 types of reactions to such a situation: (1) Talk shit about it. (2) Frame it positively.


Most people choose the former: Blaming others or making excuses the whole day, focusing solely on the negative aspects of the situation, without considering the positive, reacting to new challenges with anger or frustration…


This happens to me too - and frankly, too often.


Talking shit about a bad situation is fun


It alleviates the situation.


But it comes at a price: increased stress and anxiety levels, limited ability to cope with challenges, and getting bogged down even more by negative thoughts.


To maximize happiness, the better choice is to frame things positively. When we focus on the positive, we see challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. This helps us to better deal with the situation, reducing stress and building resilience.


In the short term, we won’t experience this sweet feeling of temporary release of tension when venting frustration and anger. In the long term, though, we will experience life with more ease. Building resilience makes life different.


Imagine someone who worked in a sweatshop in South East Asia for years. Working 12 hours per day, 6 days per week, and having 2 toilet breaks per day, high air temperatures, poor air quality, and safety precautions. To sustain working under these poor working conditions, this person built so much resilience that s/he would just laugh away the problems I use to complain about.


How to frame things positively


Yes - it’s challenging to frame things positively.


It feels like lying: Our actual frame is: This situation sucks. I want it to stop. While the desired frame is: This situation is a great learning opportunity. I’m confident to handle it.


It feels unnatural - but this is like every other thing in life that forces us to change. And it’s worth it.


3 habits greatly help me to frame things positively

  1. Approach the situation with a willingness to learn and grow. I ask myself: What are the challenges? How will they make me grow? And how can I make the best out of the situation?

  2. Stop negative talk and thought. If I catch myself that I indulge in negative thoughts or talk, I immediately stop it. I tell myself that this negative thing makes me grow. And if I or others are talking negatively, I change the topic or frame it positively.

  3. Postpone reflection to a time of natural state. In the midst of battle, it doesn’t make sense to question why you are fighting in the first place but it’s time to execute and make the best out of the situation. In case the situation is temporary like a consulting project or exam period, I won’t question the situation but postpone my reflection to a fixed point in time afterward. In case the situation is a permanent state, I block sufficient time (e.g., a whole Sunday) to critically reflect on the situation and think about how I can change my situation.

How do you deal with anger and stress? Do you usually vent or frame things positively? Would be curious to hear from you!


All the best to you and yours,

David

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