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positive mindset

7 Exercises To Turn Negative Situations into Positive Opportunities

Whether you are an optimist or not, there is no denying that having a positive perspective in life can help you overcome difficult times. Within the workplace, this is more true than ever in this moment. While in some countries we seem to be turning a corner with COVID-19, in many others it’s still going to be a slow recovery for most of 2021. These unusual times can teach us a really valuable skill in the workplace: how to turn negative situations into positive opportunities. Read more below. 

Throughout 2020 and 2021, I have actively been working on reprogramming my negative thought patterns and default settings into more positive and empowering thoughts. Some of the actual reprogramming was going from a “Me” mindset (“Why is this happening to me?”) to a “We” mindset (“How can I connect to and support others around me right now given everything that’s happening (some of which I may not even know about)?”) This is probably one of the most transformational opportunities all leaders have right now. 

With this in mind, I wanted to share 7 straightforward exercises that you can practice when you are experiencing difficult times. None of these is my invention, but rather things that I have picked up through workshops, literature, and programs I have participated in. 

My intention of sharing these is to give you practical tools to help enhance your current experience of the workplace and your team’s second-hand experience as well. In order to do this justice, I would carve out at least 30 minutes to reflect and write about these prompts. If you are able to share with someone or with your team, I would encourage you to do this as well. And most importantly: create space in your week to practice what you write and see how it changes your day-to-day. 

7 ways to re-program towards a positive mindset during difficult times: 

Exercise 1: Deliberate Gratitude

Consciously recollect 5-10 specific things or people that you are grateful for and why you are grateful. The key thing here is to be specific so that it truly allows you to feel the full breadth of gratitude. 

Exercise 2: Reverse Gap (more here)

Instead of focusing on the future, reflect on the past. Think about how far you’ve come and the progress you’ve made. For example, make a list of 5-10 things you have accomplished during the pandemic. Then, be grateful and appreciative to yourself and others for those accomplishments that were made possible. 

Exercise 3: Lofty Questions (more here)

Ask yourself positive questions to focus on your dreams versus negative situations. Instead of “Why does this always happen to me?” Focus on “Why do I have…” questions. Examples: “Why do I have such an incredible team?” By re-framing the questions you ask yourself, you are slowly re-programming your mind to focus on the positives. Try starting with 3 lofty questions. 

Exercise 4: Gift of Knowledge (source)

Ask yourself how to best learn from the situation you are in by focusing on the knowledge you will be earning: “What knowledge would I need to gain in this moment so that the payoff of what is happening to me now can be much larger in the future?”

Exercise 5: Gift of Power / Strength (source)

Ask yourself what power / new muscle / strengths you would need to gain to handle the negative situation you find yourself in. How could you focus on developing new or existing muscle to better handle the situation? Some examples of these strengths include: Empathy, Innovation, Exploration, Navigation, Activation. 

Exercise 6: Gift of Inspiration (source)

Commit to an inspiring action that you can do today that you wouldn’t have done if this negative situation hadn’t happened. In other words, your action becomes the gift born from this negative situation. Your inspiring action may inspire others to do the same when they are going through tough times too. 

Exercise 7: Meditation

I can’t reinforce how helpful meditation practice is. Whatever your app of choice (mine is Insight Timer), try a Loving Kindness meditation or a guided meditation that can help you re-center yourself during difficult times. 

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