It has been a long process (six months and counting), but my family and I are finally getting our new home. We had some obstacles to overcome along the way and now that it is almost ours, we are faced with the reality of owning a new home that, while new to us, is not quite new or even livable yet. There is a list a mile long of things that need to be done that we can’t even begin to tackle for another few weeks, a list that could potentially be looked at as nothing but a list of upcoming problems. Instead, I’m looking at it as a list of possibilities, in the best sense of the word.
I’m not ignoring the stressful things in the sense of putting them off or pretending they’re not happening. It’s just that I’ve done all I can – made the phone calls, faxed the forms, sent a million emails and recalculated our budget when each new obstacle arrived. The only thing left to do is wait, and waiting can so often involve stress, envisioning more and more things going wrong that would be totally out of my control.
So instead, I’ve been envisioning things going right. The demolition going smoothly, the stucco looking beautiful and the decorating…oh, the decorating. I am imagining the perfect finds in each room, the paint to match, the pictures to be hung… My husband jokes that I’m putting the cart before the wheels, but I think I’m doing exactly what needs to be done, creating a positive space in my head instead of a negative one.
When we envision ourselves in a good place, whether it be furnishing rooms, acing that final, scoring that goal or doing a stellar job in a presentation at work, we prepare our minds to make that place a reality. We fill ourselves with positive images, positive energy, more confidence and a greater sense of self-worth. We can make it happen, because we believe we can. When things are out of our control, we can bring back some of that control by deciding not to let stress and fear get the best of us, by realizing that our attitude and response are in fact some of the only things we have control of.
A good positive attitude can’t take the place of practice, or studying, or preparation, but it can certainly enhance those things, as well as calm us down and strengthen our beliefs in our own capabilities.
It can be difficult to imagine things going well if you are someone who is used to doing quite the opposite. Start small. If picturing perfection seems impossible or unrealistic, try imagining instead handling tough situations with grace and humor.
Picture picking yourself up and playing your best game even if you don’t score a winning goal. Making a gentle joke if you stumble in a speech. Using your intelligence and common sense if you are unsure during a test.
By retraining your brain to look forward to the bright side of things, you can break the negative habit of worry, forging a new path of positivity. I know that my family’s job of fixing up our new home won’t be perfect or easy, but by imagining the good instead of the bad, I am looking towards that journey with excitement and acceptance, knowing that there will be many challenges but feeling ready to tackle them with a healthy attitude. One room at a time.