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Are You the Cause of Your Bad Luck?

Now, that seems rude, doesn’t it.  I mean, if you’re having a run of bad luck, the last thing you want to hear is that you caused it.  I, for one, want sympathy at that point, not a kick in the butt.  Even though I now know what I need is the latter . . .

Are You The Cause Of Your Bad Luck? the power of positive thinking

Many, many years ago, I had a good friend tell me, “If you didn’t have bad luck, you’d have no luck at all.”

And, she was pretty much right.  Sometimes you just feel like you’re in a never-ending battle.

To be clear, this was a time in my life where lots was going wrong.  Sickness, dying, death of those near and dear to me.  Sometimes life truly does dump a sack of coal at your door.

But that’s not all that was going wrong.

And it seemed that stuff just kept going wrong, as if I’d fallen into some quicksand and no matter how I worked to get free, kept being sucked back in.

Let me take a wild guess—you’ve been there too.

Annoying, isn’t it.  And it left me asking: So what’s the problem?  Me, or life?

And once I ask those sorts of questions, well, the universe tends to respond.

My negative thoughts can wind up in a never-ending downward spiral.  And what I learned over this last decade, is that when I let them, more crap seems to come my way.  Okay, does come my way.

Because when I get caught up in the negative, the energy around me changes.  Which for me translates into making more poor decisions, and missing seeing the actions that can propel me out of the ditch.

In a nutshell, we all know the power of positive thinking.  So many studies have been done on this, and the Mayo Clinic reports: Increased life span, lowered depression, lower distress, improved immune function, reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and many more.

So, if we know this to be scientifically true, why on God’s green earth do I let myself get caught up in the negative? 

And especially, when I now have a lot of tools to keep me from doing so.  I mean, isn’t that just nuts?

Let’s face it—even with all the knowledge and skills we have, we can still sometimes get lost in those negative thoughts.

Oddly enough, I had this happen this spring.  Horrors!  And, I kinda eased into it.

I’ve been editing books for 25 years now.  And in all that time, I’ve had hardly a client one who was unhappy.  In the final analysis, none of them were.

But in early spring, I edited a nonfiction book that was a 50K rant on how life had treated this young man unfairly.  And when I told him that (along with specific ways to turn it into a viable book), he was pissed.  Really pissed.

And I got caught up in the drama.  I know, I know, I should be far past that.  But I focused an undue amount of time on it, spewing out into the universe my own negativity, along with his.

You know what happened?  The same thing occurred again.  Only this time, worse, at least for me, as the next client refused to pay his balance (which was significant).  He doesn’t get the edited book and critique back without it, but I’m out the time and money.

And then, it happened twice more, in varying ways.

Okay, now, this got my attention.  Again, before we go any further, in 25 years, this has never happened.

So what’s it all mean?

In my case, anyway, I truly did create my own reality by focusing on a perceived problem, rather than on the solution. 

And the first thing I had to do was to sit myself down, and make a list of what I wanted to see happen in each case.

Now, I know I’m not powerful enough to change what someone else is going to do.  But what I do know is that when I focus on solutions, instead of problems, things tend to work out.

Fairly quickly, most of these did.  Almost immediately, actually.

So when I listed the possible solutions, focused on them, carried out any action steps, and kept my eyes on the prize—things working out—they did.

Funny how that happens.

Spiritual teachers have been espousing this for millennia.  Psychologists have begun doing so over the last few decades.  Scientists are now measuring the proof.

When all these folks agree, and I myself have anecdotal evidence, how goofy is it of me to fall back into the hole of negative thoughts? 

What I realize of course after all that is, well, I’m human.  So, no sense in beating myself up for falling off the positivity wagon.  Lord knows, I get punished enough by doing so that I don’t need any self-flagellation!

But now, I’m back on that wagon.  Moving forward again, with less stress, and much better well-being.

Whew!  What could be better?

How do you stay positive in light of negative events?

This Post Has 38 Comments

  1. Hi Susan! Good for you for recognizing and doing something about it before it went any further. Can we ask any more of ourselves? Next time you’ll likely catch yourself more quickly but that’s because you now have this experience to help remind you right? So many people focus on the “beating myself up” phase of the learning that they NEVER move forward. So much better to pick yourself up, say yep that happened, and move on. What I try to do myself is to quote Abraham with, “Things are always working out for me.” And like you say, “always keep your eye on the prize.” Thanks for this great reminder! ~Kathy

    1. Susan Malone

      I think what really got my attention, Kathy, is that I already knew this. And did it anyway! Lol. Had to test the theory, I guess. And I love that Abraham quote! Thanks for sharing that.

  2. Colleen M. Story

    So true, Susan. I’ve had this happen, too. For me the “turn” from negative to positive is just plain tough when you have all that going on. I think that’s why it’s difficult to see it or to do it. The thing I’ve found works is to go all nice to myself! (ha) Like, “What will make me happy today?” regardless of what’s going on. It’s like planting a seed of good feelings somewhere so that it can grow. Not always easy, especially for women it seems, but now that I’ve seen how well it works it’s easier to slide into it. As you say, the focus on solutions is always a good idea—great reminder. I usually do that in business, but for the emotional stuff, just doing something I enjoy works.

    1. Susan Malone

      Colleen, I love that idea! What will make me happy today. That’s my new go-to question 🙂 Thank you!

  3. Sabrina Quairoli

    Glad your situations were resolved, Susan. We all go through what you went through. I think of experiences that come to me as learning lessons instead of bad luck. This allows me to be in control of the situation instead of feeling the victim. When we empower ourselves, we are stronger for it and it helps us move forward and not get stuck in the situation.

    1. Susan Malone

      Oh, so very true, Sabrina. And we are so much stronger when we empower ourselves. Moving forward is so key. Love that!

  4. Roslyn Tanner Evans

    I just love the topics you choose to write. We have a tendency to think that if someone is successful, they don’t have those everyday problems the rest of us mortals suffer from.
    I think the thing I do that prevents the pile up is that I wash yesterday away. It is gone & today is created newly. Not so much a matter of positive vs negative thinking, but from a place of creating. Like telling yourself a better story when you awaken. This has been my major coping skill & then I learned how to make it more powerful thru a transformational program called Landmark Education, The Forum.

    1. Susan Malone

      Ohhh, Roz, do I ever love that. Wash yesterday away. Perfect And I just love the idea of telling yourself a better story when you awaken. Beautiful!

  5. Jean

    Love this too. And totally understand. Somedays finding the positive is so hard when the negative has you overwhelmed. That taking a step back, sucking in a deep breath, and clearing the head isn’t always easy but generally helps with seeing things clearer…at least for me.

    1. Susan Malone

      It really does help, doesn’t it, Jean. And we all have those days when we just have to hold to whatever truth we know . . .

  6. Joie Betterly

    I struggle with staying positive. I have to work at it on a daily basis. I’m trying to retrain how my brain thinks. So I stop and ask myself how I could better handle a situation.

    1. Susan Malone

      I think that’s the key, Joie–retraining the brain. I never knew how stinkin’ my thinkin’ was until I started paying attention to it! And how enlightening the practice of staying positive has been. One thing I can say for true–the brain is like all the other muscles in our bodies. And it responds to training. Even when I fall off the wagon, that “muscle memory” is there when I get back on track.

  7. Rachel Lavern

    Staying positive consistently is tough. Even the boost people get from self-improvement books and classes tends to wear off quickly. After that, it’s back to the old, negative thought patterns for most.

    One of the secrets I’ve used to continually grow my business every year is remembering that the more you pay attention and focus on the good things that are happening and what you’ve accomplished, rather than the two percent that is not necessarily going well, the more you attract positive things.

    Like most entrepreneurs, we are constantly focused on what we haven’t done or what isn’t working, right? So the practice is taking the time to focus on your accomplishment, which raises your vibration and bathes you in positivism, which means that your work becomes easier and your results come faster and greater.

    1. Susan Malone

      So very true, Rachel! I just love: “So the practice is taking the time to focus on your accomplishment, which raises your vibration and bathes you in positivism, which means that your work becomes easier and your results come faster and greater.” Yes, ma’am!

  8. Tamuria

    Susan, this post was spot on. I believe we do create our own bad luck with our negative response to things.It’s so easy to get drawn into the negative and, of course, you are then surrounded by that miserable energy and make choices that add to the angst. When it goes that far it’s really hard to get out – great that you recognised this and acted accordingly.Focusing on the solution rather than the problem is a great way to make that positive turn.I always work hard on my gratitude diary when this happens to me.

    1. Susan Malone

      So true, Tamuria–when we go into that negative downward spiral, it’s hard to get out. And I LOVE the gratitude journal as a tool to get us out! Great point.

  9. Louisa

    What a beautifully written post. For me, some say I am a little to positive sometimes. I feel like it is the best way to keep my head up when I am going through a tough time.


    1. Susan Malone

      You are so on track, Louisa! You just keep being positive and we’ll all watch as you achieve great things!

  10. Kristen Wilson

    I hear you… about the negativity.. and how it spirals… but I think there are just too many things OUT of our control, no matter how we think…and I’ve “willed” things to happen… thought my happy thoughts and they don’t happen… so how can it be my fault that shit happens… but when I do “all the right things” it doesn’t work to my favor… sorry.. but this thing really does something to me… I have a hard time believing it all… seriously. 🙁

    1. Susan Malone

      One thing that we really need to avoid is that whole stream of beating ourselves up when things go badly. And I know–that’s easy for me to do as well. But when I beat myself up for falling into the ditch–again–that just keeps me there. One thing I know in my world is that when I’m down–really down–it takes a while of practice to get my boat righted again. And if I’m not careful, I can easily drift down into that thinking that it doesn’t work, and what’s it all for, yada, yada. But if I keep my eye single, focused on what I WANT to have happen, sooner or later the tide changes. Would it anyway? Perhaps. But if so, look at all the time I spent in misery before it did, when I could have been at least enjoying life.
      There are two proofs as to whether positive thinking works: Things working out in your life, and/or feeling better. And one thing I know for true, although I denied it for decades, is that if I keep the feeling good part going long enough, things begin to work out. It’s been a long road for me, and I’m still learning and growing. But I’ve finally gathered enough personal anecdotal evidence (and I’m a natural-born skeptic) that even I know it as true.
      So don’t blame yourself, no matter what. Your path is your path–no one else’s.

  11. Beverley Golden

    I always envision the big possibilities in my life. My challenge is apparently I have an attachment to getting a “yes” to all of what I imagine or envision and I do get disappointed because of this. I’ve learned to allow what we I’m feeling to be and to learn from it. It isn’t good or bad, it just is. The idea of the objective observer really helps, especially when I realize that this is only one moment in time. Of course, we do have many much larger influences going on, so some people, just by virtue of their destiny path, might appear to be having more challenges than others. More for them to transform in their lives. I used to stuff the negative down because of all the talk about staying positive, and for me, that brought on health issues. So now, without judging whatever is happening, I have learned to know that, “this too shall pass”. Maybe this isn’t directly related to your post, Susan, however, this is what showed up for me to say today. 🙂

    1. Susan Malone

      You just hit on two tools I absolutely adore, Beverley–using the objective observer, for one. It sure puts things in perspective when I do that! And I too say, “this too shall pass” when in a negative situation. Stuffing things is a recipe for disaster, no?
      And staying focused on the big possibilities brings opportunities for those to come. Just love your thoughts on all of this!

  12. Kimberly

    I am generally pretty positive in my thoughts and attitudes. I can sometimes slide, but I’ve become very conscious of the spiral, and can usually turn it around pretty quickly with some focus! So important to your happiness and wellbeing to master!

    1. Susan Malone

      Absolutely, Kimberly–we all slide sometimes. And turning it around by focusing on the good is the key!

  13. Christy Soukhamneut

    This article and the points you make are something that people should bookmark and pull out every time something goes a little askew in their world. Check to see if the person in the mirror is what is getting in your way. It’s easy to slip into the worldly ways of blaming others and things instead of focusing on solutions. True success won’t come while blaming others.

    1. Susan Malone

      So true, Christy–what mostly gets in our way is staring back at us from the mirror. Great point!

  14. Jackie Harder

    I used to focus on bad things all the time because then I would never be blindsided. Of course, the more I focused on bad things, the more often they happened. How I stay positive today: Understand that this, too, shall pass — whatever “this” is; focusing on my blessings; and asking myself, “What can I create from this?”

    1. Susan Malone

      I have to laugh, Jackie–my main character in my new novel just said the same thing. Okay, her best friend actually pointed it out–that she focuses on the bad that could happen so she wouldn’t be blindsided. Even though that had never worked! Lol. And I just love when faced with a negative situation: What can I create from this? that’s perfect!

  15. Joan M Harrington

    Hi Susan 🙂

    Really enjoyed your post! For me, dealing with the negativity that is in this world, it is much easier to “choose” to think and be positive. Not always an easy thing to do, but a must if you do not want to get caught up in the drama and the negative. Of course surrounding yourself with those that bring out the best in you is what I try to do on a daily basis so my mind stays positive and uplifting 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your insights on what helps you 🙂

    Excellent share!

    1. Susan Malone

      And it is a choice, isn’t it, Joan! You are so right about surrounding yourself with those who bring out the best of you. Love that.

  16. Karen Grosz

    I keep positive by keeping my life in perspective, remember who I am in relation to God. I spend time in prayer and doing self-care. All those things allow me to let go of the yuck and focus on the positive. I don’t want to live in negativity and so I don’t. Glad you are back on the wagon. 🙂

    1. Susan Malone

      Aren’t those just vital, Karen–spending time in prayer and practicing self-care. Great points!

  17. Victoria Stacey

    “So, no sense in beating myself up for falling off the positivity wagon.” I try and share this with my friends frequently. Everyone seems to do this, and it’s true, don’t beat yourself up over being human for a minute!

  18. Joan Potter

    Susan – when negative things happen to me and I don’t know what to do, I find myself often thinking of how others have handled similar situations. For instance, when my nephew died a few months back, both my sister and I remembered that our grandmother had 2 children die in separate events, and carried on to raise her other 6 kids quite nicely. It was small comfort, but at least it gave us hope/proof that life would go on and joy would weave its way back into our daily existence. Even with my work at the hospital, I feel that I inherently know how to handle most situations, but in the rare event that something gets real sticky, I try to pick out a mentor who would be good in that situation, and take his/her lead. Usually helps!

    1. Susan Malone

      Mentors just provide such wonderful examples for us, don’t they Joan. That you and your sister could look to your grandmother’s manner in handling the ultimate horror, find peace in that, and see how to carry on is huge. That’s not one you ever get over–ever. But being part of life going on is the only true antidote. Kudos to you both for focusing on that . . .

  19. Joyce Hansen

    I try to have a positive relationship with my computer. If I dare to yell at it, it becomes unresponsive. I swear it, my printer and my mouse can read my mind so I’m very careful. Beautiful article and I so much appreciate how you shared your experience.

    1. Susan Malone

      Oh, do I know the love/hate computer relationship, Joyce! Have I mentioned I’m your basic neo-luddite? The idea of smashing with a baseball bat all things technological makes me smile!

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