Swapping the negativity for positivity


Graphic by Theresa Lee

Theresa Lee, Opinions Editor

No. I can’t. I won’t. I’m not. It’s too late.

Once again, my hand remained on my lap, unraised, as my elementary school music teacher invited volunteers to sing the first verse of the song. I wanted to, of course. I loved to sing. But my mind was clouded with “what-ifs” slashing opportunities and amplifying my shyness. 

Your voice will crack. You’ll read the wrong lines. Are you even a good singer?

All too often, we inhibit our potential before exploring our chances and making attempts. Bathing in self-degradation, we drain fresh opportunities ahead of us and soak in the regret that haunts us thereafter.

A negative mindset doesn’t instantly vanish, but you can lessen your daily dose of negative energy by introducing more positive phrases into your vocabulary. After having a discussion with clinical psychologist Dr. Aimee Daramus, I’ve offered some ways to turn negative self-talk into positive expressions.

Negative: I failed, Positive: I learned

I failed the math quiz — I must be stupid. Wrong. Failure must not weaken our motivation or deter us from wading out to a larger sea of opportunities. Rather than scolding yourself for not getting an A, ask yourself why you fell short of one and organize a plan to improve: Next time, I’ll visit the Math Resource Center if I need help solving tricky problems.

Negative: I’m not, Positive: I am

I’m not a good runner because others can finish a mile in half my time. Inaccurate. Convert wilting pessimism into blooming optimism by encouraging yourself to push for new limits rather than degrading your abilities. Just because other teammates run faster doesn’t make you a less valuable member to the team. Rather than comparing yourself to other athletes, focus on establishing personal goals: I will train to finish ten seconds faster for my next race — I am capable.

Negative: I can’t, Positive: I can

I can’t audition for the solo in choir because I’ve never sung in public. Think again. Recognize that those you admire also have insecurities, but that didn’t stop them from achieving their goals. Apply for the leadership position in a club, audition for the lead in the musical and rock those dance moves in P.E. classes, even if you don’t dance. Consciously choose to escape your comfort zone and imagine what you can achieve as a soloist, rather than what you can’t: I can audition for the solo because I have passion for the part.

Every sigh we release, every hateful word we speak and every minute we spend thinking about what can go wrong results in energy wasted — energy that may be used to nourish us. During this pandemic, searching for the silver lining amidst all the chaos is more important than ever. We need to trust ourselves and seize chances regardless of the outcome.

So swap that negativity for positivity. Yes. You can. You will. You are. And you’re never too late — it’s just about time.