When you live the life of a military spouse, it can sometimes feel like you’re in a state of constant upheaval, transition, and unknown outcomes. Starting over repeatedly, watching your kids struggle through each new shift in their lives, and learning the new ropes each time can start to wear you down mentally and emotionally. It can even begin to feel like you’ll never crawl out from underneath all the heaviness. But a simple shift toward positive thinking can genuinely make a difference. Some people are born with a smile on their faces and run around like Little Orphan Annie knowing that the sun will come out tomorrow. Follow these 5 simple steps to more positive thinking to create a positive mental attitude and you can find your inner Annie, too.
The simplest way to change your way of thinking for the better is by training your brain to focus on positive thinking. It’s no different than training your muscles. It takes daily consistent, conscientious work to see the changes happen, but they will happen.
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Positive Thinking For An Attitude of Gratitude
The easiest way to start shifting your attitude is by making a list each day of at least three things that you are grateful for. Get a special journal and write them down! Keep track each day of what things made you happy. As you become more consistent with this, you’ll start to notice yourself looking for things throughout the day that you can add to your list. Your mental tally will grow each day until without even realizing it, you’re noticing–consciously and subconsciously–all the good that finds you all day long. As your brain zeroes in on gratitude, your behavior will follow its lead.
Negative Thinking vs. Positive Thinking
As you start focusing on gratitude, you’ll be able to begin observing your negative thoughts versus your positive thoughts. The self-talk you use will frame your attitude, so be sure to pay attention to what kinds of thoughts you’re having, then start to reshape them. If you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and finding fault with various body parts, your negative thoughts will lead to a negative attitude. Reframe your thoughts by shifting to gratitude. Tell yourself how thankful you are for your arms that hug your kids, your legs that carry you through this crazy life, or that beautiful smile that helps you make new friends each time you move. Instead of grumbling about all the things that need to get done, reframe your thinking by restating the things that you GET to do. You get to pick up your kids from school where they’re meeting friends and learning and growing. You get to power through this workout that will make you stronger from the hard work you’re doing. You get to cook another meal because you’re lucky enough to have food on the table. It takes practice, but consistent rephrasing will help you see all that you have instead of all you “have to.”
Focus on What You Can Control
Sometimes it’s easy to get swallowed up by everything going on around us. It’s especially challenging in the military when we feel like so much is out of our control. We tend to worry and fester, and that only serves to drag us down and hinder our ability to have more positive thinking. To combat this, start focusing on what you can control, not what’s out of your control. You can’t control what other people say about you. You can’t control where you’re going to go next or how much time you’ll have to prepare for that move. You can’t control when your spouse leaves again or for how long.
But, you CAN control how YOU react to those situations. You can control how to get things done as you prepare for a move. You can control your thoughts and feelings in personal interactions. You can control how you support your spouse and kids through a deployment or TDY trip. The key is to remember that what you can control always lies with you, and most everything else is probably beyond your control. Focus on yourself and what you can change, fix, or learn in order to keep your head from spinning.
Acknowledge the Tough Times
Life is hard. Even if you’re not a military spouse, life is hard. Positive thinking doesn’t have to pretend that’s not the case. We will all face challenges that may even bring us to our knees. A positive mental attitude doesn’t automatically keep your life Mary Poppins Perfect. The key here is to acknowledge the hard stuff. Being positive doesn’t mean you can ignore or bypass the struggles you face. It means that you recognize those struggles, allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel, and then find ways to move forward through those struggles. You have gotten through tough stuff. You will continue to get through tough stuff. Training your brain to be more positive means that you will remember that you are capable. Not that you’re immune. You’re allowed to wallow a bit in your struggle. Just remember that you can’t stay there forever.
You Can Do It, Because You’ve Done It!
Along those lines, don’t forget that you are superwoman. Seriously. Military spouses have to be adaptable, strong, flexible, tenacious, and resilient. Whether you’re new to this life or a seasoned vet of all the letters (PCS, TDY, LES, etc.), you’ve likely seen a thing or two and handled a thing or two. Remind yourself of that. Constantly. Remind yourself of all you’ve been through as a military spouse; not to wallow in a pity party of all the ways this life is too hard, but rather as a way to see just how much you’ve accomplished. How much you should be proud of. How much you have already succeeded. See the growth. See the achievement. See the capability you have. See the positives.
Positive thinking and a positive mental attitude can help you find your inner Annie again in the midst of whatever dark clouds might be bringing you down. Remember that the sun WILL come out tomorrow, if you put a little effort into your positive mental attitude!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out how to help your kids have positive attitudes when it comes to moving.
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