The anticipation had built for some time. I knew that this moment would come. At the end of the day, I was summoned nonchalantly for a discussion. “Here it comes…”, I thought to myself. “After all this time, here it is.”
Although I knew exactly what the contents of the discussion would be. I could not brace myself for the impact. I was consistent and strong in what I did. I never had any negative feedback, or concerns about my output at work. That day changed it all. One after another, the words hit like a brick. The combination of their impact was more than I had anticipated. I left the room with a deflated, and negative outlook. I went home and cried endlessly. How could I move on from this? I felt as if I had dug a deep grave for myself, and there wasn’t anything I could do to get out.
My defeat became fuel. I let that one incident represent my entire experience and outlook. I found it easier to be displeased or annoyed about things. I would vent to (non-work related) friends and complain about things that were out of my control. The negatively grew, and so did my ability to find fulfillment in the things I did. Resentment began to take hold. Things got harder. I was becoming unhappy.
It wasn’t until some time later that I really thought about my attitude. I never seemed to have anything positive to say. I found it easier to look at the bad side of things. A lot of it stemmed from that one difficult discussion. Somehow, I couldn’t allow myself to move on. I was stuck reliving those awful moments over and over again, giving myself new fuel each day to be angry. Day after day, it was complaint after complaint. I’m sure people wondered if this disposition had even deeper underlying issues.
On my own, I began to wonder what good any of that activity did. I spent more time fuming than trying to find something good. It was exhausting and unhealthy. Here I was, plagued by relentless contempt for something that happened in the past. Something, that no one even spoke of anymore. Yet, mentally, I couldn’t let it go. I was angry and tired. I was angry of what happened to me. I was angry about the downfall of my seemingly respectable status. Yet, I was also tired of the impact of my own actions. I was tired of being miserable. I was tired of being a victim of my own thoughts. Something had to change.
As I thought about my feelings, I realized that the root cause of the issue wasn’t just the discussion that happened. It was me. I became so negative, that it overtook me completely. I let myself become the problem. The only way I could fix this was to change my outlook. I then made a resolution:
Rid yourself of the negativity. It is fine to experience it as it comes, and let yourself react normally to the things that bother you. But, once you’ve done that, remind yourself that it is over. I cannot change the past. I can only change how I react to it, and how I continue to act after it.
I had to tell myself that repeatedly for a long time before I actually believed it. I had to remind myself constantly each time I felt prolonged negatively coming. After I had processed it in a healthy way (talking it out, addressing the root cause, etc), I tried to look at the positive aspect of things. I tried to find silver linings. I tried to find things I could do to help make things more positive or in some cases, more tolerable. I wanted to find ways to compromise, accept or change the things that bothered me. This was no easy feat. I had largely lived my life as a pessimistic and negative person. However, in time, it did become easier.
If I am at fault for something, I begin to look for ways to make it right, or at least, change the way I reacted to it. I try to prevent anger and sarcasm from being my initial reaction. I attempt to be more understanding and calm when things were difficult. These changes made a difference. While I still find that negativity tends to hang around, the stay isn’t as long as it used to be. I don’t find myself wallowing in shame or disgust for as long. I recover much quickly, and tend to find positive things to look forward to.
Of course, there will always be situations that are just downright difficult. However, I have been through enough things in life to know that sometimes, part of healing is experiencing the bad before the good. If I learn to accept it, then maybe, I will end up being a happier person. Some people say that this is just a part of getting older. I like to think that it’s not really something dictated by age; this lesson is more from experience, and the knowledge that we can learn to cope with things as they come.