There was a period in my life in which I was happy and contented in all aspects of life, except for work. I had begun a new job and had all the usual excitement and high hopes that come along with a fresh career opportunity — yes, I was a bit nervous, but it paled in significance to the anticipation that this could finally be my dream job.
Unfortunately, those hopes were quickly dashed upon the rocks.
Within the first week I sensed a great deal of tension at this company; people were on edge, rarely smiled and seemed pretty miserable. In my second week, I attended a meeting with about 20 co-workers and it was there that I realized I had made a huge mistake — the entire meeting was filled with anger, shouting and fist pounding. You could literally cut the tension with a knife. Over the next few months, I was shouted at, belittled, mocked, treated like garbage and made to feel stupid..believe me, I was not being singled out, because they treated everyone this way. It was so awful that I sometimes cried myself to sleep at night.
I made the commitment to do the best that I could — I told myself it was just a job and that if I worked hard and more importantly, worked smart, I would be okay. When I got home at night, I did a great deal of soul-searching; I reminded myself that I was smart, I was worthy and, I was good at my job. This positive self-reinforcement was crucial during this period of my life. When we’re in a difficult situation, it’s hard to maintain a positive self-image because we constantly feel beaten down, but it’s critical to persevere.
The experience I describe is all too real for many people and maybe even for you. When we’re faced with this kind of ego-busting experience in life, we can either flounder in unhappiness day-in and day-out, or we can do something about it. There will always be periods in our life when we feel beaten down or have low self-esteem, but that’s just part of life — it’s just a fact of our human experience.
It’s at times like these when we need to ask ourselves, “Am I going to let this phase or aspect of my life define or control me? Or, am I going to take command of my life and focus on ways to make myself feel better?”
I chose the latter. Job stresses aside, most aspect of my life were great, but the moment I stepped into the office each morning, all of my positivity vanished. This would never do. I couldn’t allow my job to impact the other parts of my life.
Once I actively took charge of my emotional state, I was able to change my attitude and transmit my positivity towards work — no matter how bad the work environment was, I was resolute in making the most of it and not allowing it to leak into my otherwise happy existence.
Here are four tips you can use to stay positive when you’re feeling down:
1. Develop a plan to address the immediate situation
This is where “write it down” comes in handy once again. If you’re serious about changing your situation, write down all of the pros and cons; what is making you unhappy and what can you do about it? What pros, if any, are there? List them. Then compare the list of pros and cons. This helps to get things into perspective, so you can better handle them.
2. Develop an action plan
The action plan could include the personal commitment to do the best that you can, as well as some ideas of how you can get yourself out of the situation. I did all of this and believe me, it really helped. I reviewed that plan regularly and always reminded myself that I can only do my best, but would also look for another job. Once I started that process, I felt immensely better.
3. Remain positive
When negativity has crept into your life, such as in a bad job situation, it’s important to focus your mind on the good and on the positive. If you get yelled at or belittled like I did, remind yourself that it’s not you who has the issue — it’s them. After a while, I never took their yelling to heart because I actually began to feel sorry for them; how sad that they were such unhappy people. So, make sure you don’t let em’ get you down!
4. Make a gratitude list
Even if you’re unhappy with one aspect of your life, look at the rest of your life and as with the pro and con list in your action plan, make a note of what you’re grateful for — your blessings. This act can go a long way in helping you to neutralize the negative that you’re experiencing.
5. Find your passion
Maybe you want to start your own business? If you’ve been thinking about it, perhaps you’re experiencing what you’re meant to at that given time, to give you that kick in the pants to get that business going! What motivates you? Figure out what makes you happy and see if that can be a career. Love kids? Maybe becoming a Teacher is your true calling. Love spending hours at the museum? Maybe that is where you’re meant to work!
By the end of my first year, many of the people who started work at this company when I did had been fired or quit. I was called into the big boss’s office and was told that on that day, they would let 5 people go. Was I to be one of them? As it turned out, no. In fact, I was praised for my work, promoted and given a hefty raise. I was of course, relieved. But, I wasn’t happy. I saw that the environment at this company was toxic and that they couldn’t keep employees. It was a revolving door. Why on earth would I want to stay? So, I didn’t stay — I got a new job shortly after that and I loved it!
At the end of the day, we can’t always have pure, uninterrupted positivity. With positivity, some negativity comes too. The key is to take full control of how you respond to it — how you let it affect you. You have the power over it, so use it to your advantage. And remember the saying “never let em’ get you down!”