Looking at the world through Rose Colored Glasses intimates that you only see the positive in a situation, ignoring the negative aspects. But what if you only see the negative? Clinically, to the extreme we might diagnose Dysthemic disorder or the old Melancholia. But there are people who are NOT clinically depressed but are just
all the time.
I like to call them unhappy smurfs. Their glasses are jade colored because everything they see is jaded. Have you come in contact with these people?
What I have found out about both positivity and negativity is that they are like emotional viruses…highly contagious. Being around a sincerely positive person, can positively affect your mood. I am not talking about someone who in disingenuous, with obvious agendas, but someone who is confident, positive and solution focused. Those types of people draw me in like a back porch light draws a moth. I find that I can siphon off a piece of their positive energy and it will stick with me after they leave.
Negativity affects me the same way. I can be in a superior mood, feeling positive about the day; about myself. After spending time with someone who exudes negativity, I can feel it creeping into my pores, icy heat melting any good thoughts from my heart that day. I have learned over the years that ,while it is impossible to avoid these people, especially if you work with them, it is important for me to limit my contact with them.
So first line of defense is to spot the peers and coworkers wearing the jade colored glasses. They will be the ones who “draw you in” with information about your supervisor…or another worker…with the famous line…”Don’t tell anyone but…” This line is almost always preceded by a negative piece of gossip. Don’t fall for the sticky trap. Understand that the next piece of information shared with someone else, could very well be about you. When you think about it objectively, most offices that are full of strive can be drilled down to a few negative people.
And your job is difficult enough without outside negativity. So be wise. Choose your companions with care. Surround yourself with people you admire, even if they aren’t the “it” crowd. You will grow from their positive energy and develop strong roots.
But what about internal negativity? Your own jade colored glasses?
When you are starting out in this field, fresh from obtaining your social work degree, you approach your career with excitement and a passion to change the “wrongs” in the world. I love seeing new staff in orientation and training. I want to soak up all their energy, creativity and dreams! And then, after training you begin to practice your newly acquired knowledge, skills and abilities working with a population that is largely involuntary. The thought begins to creep into your head after a couple of months…
What was I thinking?…I can’t do this!
I know this happens because it is at this point when I receive resignations.
But I want to normalize these feelings and issue a challenge to you.
Your feelings are normal and they are happening to others all around you.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed, unsure of yourself and even anxious at times as you realize the weight of the decisions you will make everyday. The population you are working with have faced years and sometimes generations of trauma. They have turned denial into a self preservation art form. You hold a mirror up to them and they see the hidden reflections. As a caring helper coming into their lives you are often blamed for the upheaval self reflection causes.
It is normal to want to give up when the enormity of the number of families you are responsible for threatens to crush you beneath their weight. Especially when you have allowed yourself to view your own skills and abilities as inadequate.
Good News! YOU CAN CONTROL YOUR THOUGHTS INSTEAD OF LETTING THEM CONTROL YOU!!
Learning the art of self talk is an important skill that will help you keep going when your brain tells you to quit. Learn to “capture” negative and self doubting thoughts. It’s ok to tell your unconscious brain that you do not accept those defeatist thoughts. Acknowledge the situation may be bad, but remind yourself why you chose this career. Remind yourself that you have struggled before but when you pushed through you have overcome large obstacles. It takes practice and repetition, but eventually those inward jade colored glasses can turn rose colored when it comes to your confidence and determination to continue on the path of helping others.
Remember the thoughts of a very wise bear: Mr. Winnie T. Pooh:
You are braver than you believe
Stronger than you seem
And smarter than you think.
Don’t let external or internal negativity steal your joy. Yes, I said Joy. Because when you can screen out the white noise of doubt and negativity, putting on your rose colored glasses and see the changes (even small ones) you have helped create in the lives of the families you serve, there is a place in your heart for Joy. Celebrate!