Something I’ve found very powerful in moving me forward in my writing and publishing is to choose optimism. Now, when you have a mental or physical illness or are facing a really tough situation, it’s not easy. In fact, your body or outside circumstances might be working against you, so as I come to you and say, “let’s start choosing optimism,” you’re completely within your rights to give me the side eye and ask “how?”. I’m glad you did.
Choosing optimism is just that–a choice. It’s one we consciously make by being aware of our thoughts and feelings. This is mindfulness, or at least an aspect of it anyway.
Choices Require Compassion
Before we make any choice about our thoughts or our feelings, we need to make sure we have compassion for ourselves. Our minds and thoughts should be a judgment-free zone when it comes to what we’re thinking or feeling at any given time. It is okay to feel whatever you’re feeling right now. If you’re stressed, worried, angry, frustrated, depressed, hungry, or exhausted and apathetic, acknowledge that. Attach no judgments to those feelings. It is okay, and it’s also the first step to choosing optimism.
Take a deep breath. Let it out. Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Whatever you’re going through, it’s not easy. It never is. But I bet you got through similar days, similar moments, and you’ll do so again.
“I’m feeling frustrated right now by X, but I can figure it out.”
Say that out loud to yourself, replacing X with whatever is going on in your life. I’m frustrated by my lack of reach when I market, but I’ll figure it out. Try that on for size. How does it feel?
Optimism isn’t Foolish
There’s a lot of talk in the self-help and spiritual space about optimism and the law of attraction. What you think you attract. And I have a lot of thoughts and even more feelings on the whole topic, especially as someone with chronic illness. So I’m not here to sell you on lying to yourself or on foolish optimism. Going blindly into something saying it’ll work out when you haven’t done a thing to make it so, well that’s probably not the most productive track to take. You can’t publish a novel without writing a page, and you can’t change things without taking action.
But what you can do is make a choice. It might feel odd, or even as if you are lying to yourself. Except, the more you do, the more you ground yourself in your successes of the past, the more you start to realize that you have worked through situations before. And what you don’t know, you can learn. Sometimes knowing what you don’t know is the first, and best step, toward finding that optimism and a positive outcome.
In fact, I bet in this crazy year of 2020, you can think of two or three things you’ve handled that were tough. Whether it’s something in your physical space or your emotional space, you got through it. You’re here, aren’t you? So take a deep breath, acknowledge whatever is going on, and choose optimism.
Looking for support? I encourage you to join Unbridled Authors, the Facebook Group for writers like you! This is a no pressure, no stress place where you can ask questions, talk writing, and just hang out with others. We look forward to having you!