As we turn the page to a new year, many of us make resolutions, promises to ourselves thatwe are going to change our lives, in some way, for the better. One of the most frequent resolutions I hear from women is “I’m going to be more positive in the new year.”
Most of us face unique struggles that challenge our determination to remain positive. I was raised in a cult where I had no way to express my opinions or my personality, where medical treatment was forbidden, and where I witnessed my brothers’ physical abuse.
Escaping the cult meant losing the close relationship I had with my mom and facing a whole new set of struggles. I started my new life at 18 with nothing. I had no work skills, no money, and only a few pieces of clothing.
I could have given up right then.
Fortunately, I have always had a tendency to see the glass as half full. That doesn’t mean that developing a positive attitude necessarily came easy. I had to work at it.
One question I have been asked more than once is: how did you remain positive with all you have been through? It takes work but if you keep a few important points in mind, you can learn to focus on the positive and, at the same, gain the self-confidence you deserve.
Practicing positivity means acknowledging that negativity is a choice. It is natural for us to feel bitter or angry when faced with a negative situation. Most of us are conditioned to react negatively to the bad that happens to us or that may surround us.
Make it a goal to find the positive in anything you deem negative. Talk about the positive part of the situation to a friend. Give gratitude for being able to discover the positive. Focus on the positive because the negative doesn’t help you live the life you want and you deserve.
Allow yourself to feel down
Don’t beat yourself up for feeling down. Instead, reflect on your feelings and do something for yourself. When I get down, I do a self-evaluation. I ask myself, “why am I sad?” Usually it’s because I am trying to be in control of a situation or things are not happening fast enough. It’s at these moments I realize I need to stop, put things down and go do something that I enjoy like soaking in a bubble bath or writing what I’m grateful for or all that I’ve accomplished.
Sometimes we get so caught up in the idea that another person, who has done us wrong, doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. But, forgiveness isn’t about the other person. It’s about you. You deserve to heal. You deserve to move on. Let life and circumstance deal with the other individual. You don’t have to physically contact an individual and forgive him or her. It can merely be forgiveness in your heart. There’s a lot of energy that goes into choosing to be negative, energy that can better be utilized by choosing to forgive and deciding to move forward. Forgiveness is the start of a beautiful healing process.
It’s okay to be selfish
Society often tells us that being selfish is bad. It’s not. Don’t feel obligated to do anything that doesn’t make you happy. When you are happy, you are in your creative state. You pull good energy to you and you feel magnificent!
Cultivating a positive outlook means surrounding ourselves with people who lift us up. We don’t necessarily need those positive people to be with us physically or to even know us on a personal level to provide us support. Listening to an inspirational speaker or reading an uplifting book can be a powerful, energizing experience.
Iyanla Vanzant once said, “When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.”
She was only one of many women who inspired my own journey of healing. The healing process compelled my decision to publically share my own story. I wrote my first book “THEY MADE ME DO IT: A Cult Survivor’s Memoir of Life After The Cult,” detailing my struggles and the life lessons I learned, with the hope that my story would serve as the catalyst to inspire other women on their own journey. We each share our own unique situations but, by sharing how we overcame those obstacles to live the lives we deserve, we inspire and lift up others.
A positive attitude leads to self-confidence
Throughout my journey, I have learned about the very real connection between self-confidence and positivity. I realized that when we are positive about ourselves and about our lives, we just naturally feel confident.
Yet, so many of us struggle with self-confidence.
One afternoon a woman approached me and asked me where I got my shirt. After we chatted, she apologized. That she felt it was necessary to apologize really struck me. How many other women want to ask where another woman bought a pair of shoes or a shirt or want to offer a compliment but feel as though doing so would be intrusive?
That random encounter inspired me to found Girls United, a community that unites women through fashion. We aim to build a positive environment where women can lift each other up through their shared love of fashion. We also celebrate women and their own unique sense of fashion and emphasize that all women – of every shape, size, and ethnicity – are beautiful.
Cultivating a positive outlook in life will allow us to embrace our differences, to allow our beauty to shine, and to live the lives we deserve.
Elle Benét is the author of “THEY MADE ME DO IT: A Cult Survivor’s Memoir of Life After The Cult”. She is also the founder of Girls United, a project underway that’s designed to unite and empower women through their shared love of fashion. Obtain a copy of her memoir or support Elle in bringing the Girls United project to life by visiting: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/girls-united-a-social-media-network-for-women.