Whenever there is a problem, everybody says “think positive.” But how does someone do it? Is it even realistic to try it when you’re really hurt or damaged? Let’s see.

Self goals and things to do

Anna had just broken up with her boyfriend. They were together for almost a decade. He became part of Anna’s dreams and visions. How, then, could Anna be positive? As time went on, Anna went through the worst sort of pain. But, life had to go on. She had responsibilities to attend to and study goals to work on. The study goals were her self goals and the responsibilities were her “things to do.” They kept her going through all that pain. You see, positivity during a mess is not about smiling every second of the day and pretending there is no pain. It’s about having goals and things to do to keep you moving forward. That’s the main idea. To keep moving forward, rather than be stuck (by having no goals and having nothing to do) or move backwards (by undoing everything that’s been accomplished). Pain is natural. There is no point plastering a smile on your face, and acting like the pain isn’t there. Allow pain. Just move forward.  


It’s not enough to see results from forward-moving efforts. One has to feel like those results reflect their mark. The mark of a person in any situation is their identity. During a mess, it is important to work on self goals and things to do. But that won’t amount to anything unless there is a mark that is truly your own. When you say a sentence such as “I finished my Masters degree in Computer Science” it should mean that you got through the masters in your own personal way — through a journey that nobody else can replicate had they been in your place. So, the next most important part of being positive during a mess is to make the journey your own. 

Understanding emotions

Emotions are always portrayed as weakness during a mess. But they do serve some rather useful functions. Emotions prepare us for action. For example, when an exam is around the corner, the emotion of fear makes us take it seriously. Emotions shape our life skills. For example, we know to react with fear during danger, we know to react with happiness during fun etc. Finally, emotions aid social interactions. People are naturally more emotionally intelligent than they think. In some cases, they turn out wrong and due to those few wrong instances, they start second-guessing all their emotions. But, more often than not, our emotions are rather accurate. They indicate when we should walk away, when we should engage, how we should engage and so on. Grief, fear, anger, joy, trust, disgust, anticipation and surprise are all normal emotions. There’s nothing inherently “negative” about experiencing any of them. The important thing is to not let emotions leave you stuck or make you move backwards. As long as you are moving forward, it’s perfectly natural to have emotions, especially during a mess. Don’t worry about being “strong” or “perfect.” Experience your emotions. It’s okay if they cause poor decisions here and there. Just don’t let them stop you from moving forward. 


Hope is hard when there is a big mess. Very hard. But, it is the main objective of positive thinking. By now, it should be clear that positive thinking is less about fake smiling and forced humor, and more about moving forward while experiencing emotions in a healthy way. At what point, do you develop hope? When there is a mess, there is always a broken dream or a broken vision of the future. Hope is about feeling excitement for a new dream, for a re-attempt at the same dream, or for a new image of the future. This excitement can only come after a few months of self-goal development, identity development and experience dealing with difficult emotions. So, the necessary prerequisite for hope is that you give it at least a few months time to show itself. 

Try to prevent your naturally gentle heart from turning sour

People can be quite obnoxious during a mess. They become harsh and impatient. As such, they beat the humanity out of you. Someone who was formerly forgiving and sacrificial may turn unforgiving and selfish because of what people put them through during their struggle. There really are no words that can protect you from turning sour because of people. So, all I’ll say is this: just try. Try to be forgiving even when others don’t forgive you. Try to put others above yourself at times, even if they won’t extend the same courtesy to you. Letting your heart shine is incredibly difficult during a struggle. But it really helps. It is like the cherry on the cake. After all the positivity you gain from previous efforts, being nice to others, even when they aren’t being nice to you, will cement the positivity with a warmth that will never leave you, no matter what goes wrong again in the future. 

Thank you for reading.