How do you balance positive thinking and optimism with literal hard circumstances and allowing yourself to feel negative emotions?

Show Transcription

[00:12] Welcome to The Ziglar Show, where we inspire your true performance. I’m your host, Kevin Miller, and today we hear from Zig Ziglar about positive thinking. In this clip, Zig dispels the motivational statement of “you cannot do anything with positive thinking,”and gives some funny examples to prove the point. But he then comes back with the truth that “you can do everything better with positive thinking than you can with negative thinking.” And, of course, drives home a convicting message. From this, I posted on my agentkmiller Facebook page, where you are welcome to friend me so you can join in the conversation, “How do you balance positive thinking and optimism with literal hard circumstances and allowing yourself to feel negative emotions?”

[01:03] I wanted to really hear, because I’m human, and even with the truth in my face, life can still be difficult, especially in a challenging moment. As you can imagine, really in-depth answers that I bet you’ll resonate with. Michelle Prince and I talked through the comments for a rich conversation. So, to kick us off, here is just under two minutes from Zig Ziglar.

[04:13] OK, folks, I’m going to dive in with Michelle Prince and go through your comments to the question, “How do you balance positive thinking and optimism with literal hard circumstances and allowing yourself to feel negative emotions?”

[04:30] OK, Michelle, from Zig  we see the continuation, really, of the message we’ve been sharing over these weeks talking on mental attitude. I asked the question — well, I’ll preface it, and, you know, I was just talking about a second ago that I know in the motivational/inspirational sector there’s sometimes some negative feedback from, “Oh, we’re just making, you know, being Pollyanna about everything,” and you and I know that that was not Zig, but, well again, and I’m sure you’ve experienced that.

[04:57] Well, I think everybody thinks that who you know — unless you are in that world or you really do believe and be positive, I mean, what I always put it, you know, you, it’s telling the truth in advance, you know, and sometimes what you speak is kind of the direction in which you’re going to go. And so, now, for me, personally, I’ve grown up in this for all that love personal development, so I know that positive impact of speaking positive, thinking positive, but yeah, there are a lot of people out there that just think it’s a bunch of Pollyanna stuff.

[06:00] Gregory: One step in front of the other. Left then right then left then right, balancing all the way. And simply allowing myself to feel both sides.

[06:15] Yadah: Seeing things exactly as they are allows us to not only embrace the amazing things happening in our lives, but to also view a bad situation exactly as it is and not worse than it actually is. Then we focus all of our energy on coming up with solutions. Emotions are a part of us; it’s what makes us human and allows us to fully experience life. So it’s ok to feel negative emotions; we just need to exercise the discipline to use these as a productive force of motivation to get better results.

[07:05] I’m totally the same way, actually. My husband is probably more like your wife. But, you know, to the point of that comment you just read, there is something to be said for feeling, you know, disappointment or, you know, upset, and when I was in high school, we supported, you know, you can have a pity party but you have to have some time to yourself. So, if you’re going to do it, if you’re going to feel sorry for yourself, give yourself three minutes, five minutes, whatever you’re going to do, and own it, and be sad, and whatever, but then move on. And I think that’s where, you know, for me personally, that’s just what I consider positive thinking. It doesn’t mean the situation has changed, but it’s more solution-focused than problem. And, you know, if you can’t change it and it is what it is, you know, feel what you feel, but then find a way to change that for the good and for the positive, you know, for your mental state.

[08:22] Steve: Just facing it with as much realism and emotional maturity as possible. I have learned to allow myself to hurt and feel pain when circumstances are lousy. I don’t allow much time for self-pity, but I don’t hide from the darker aspects of life. Thankfully, I have a strong faith that God is leading me through challenges to serve others, and find peace of mind.

[10:23] It is an interesting twist, it ties in a lot with, you know, since I help people with books, with, you know, I was saying that in your mess is your message, you know, or in your test is your testimony, and so what that means is that you do have to go through some hard times, and many, maybe many hard times, in order to have a message or a testimony to share with somebody else about how you overcame it. On how you handle the dark situation, you know, I think of Zig, I think of Zig’s example that he gave to all of us. You know, one of his books was Confessions of a Happy Christian, and his incredible book and, you know, one of my favorites, but then following a couple years later after his daughter died he wrote Confessions of a Grieving Christian, and, for me, what that says is Zig is known as being the most positive man in the world, but in that book and in his life after…since she died is, you know, he allowed himself to grieve but he also, I mean, from what I saw, he accepted it to the point of like, how can he make it better, how can he turn that mess into a message, how can he help, maybe, other people who are still grieving? And he uses it in that way by writing that in, or just living out his life that way, and so for me that’s an example.

[12:47] Tim: Life is filled with all sorts of challenging seasons….I believe that if you have lived long enough and experienced enough joy and “storms,” and have a deep-rooted spiritual foundation, one is able to look at positive (blessings) and negative (insert your hardships…wife with cancer for my family now) also knowing it is all seasonal, and we all have temporary life assignments (perspective) ……you live in the moment and embrace it as a piece of your life and total story. I am blessed in my mess and “our story for God’s Glory.”

[13:57] It does, it gives us hope, and certainly we want that for everyone, but, you know, I think no matter where you are with your faith, also not only you want hope as well. I mean, you want to believe that there is something good coming or that there’s a purpose for all this, you know, as we’ve heard it a million times, and then the analogy of the harvest and seeds and planting and all of that, and it’s just so true for our own life. Anything about the four seasons, you know, here we’re about to enter into spring, but what comes before spring? I mean, it’s the darkest of dark; it’s winter and, you know, a lot of people are in the winter of their lives right now. Many things — maybe they’re going through a divorce, maybe they’ve had tragedy, or, you know, bankruptcy or something so dark that they can’t even imagine if they can get out of it.  

[16:20] Dana: By understanding hard circumstances are the gateway to your best life. There are lessons you need in those circumstances.

[17:35] No nobody asked to be pruned, I mean, come on, we all want to just have the fruits, but, you know, it’s for me the way I think of it, Kevin, it’s just a perspective, right? You know, depending on who, you know, you have two different people sitting here and one could have, you could have the exact same thing, portable thing, happen to your life, or maybe the same financial crisis or whatever it is, and one person’s perspective is “This is really, really, really hard, but I have hope and I say that it’s going to be better,” and the other person’s perspective is “this is as bad as it’s going to get, I’m going to wallow in my pity and I’m going to stay here.” One is going to, or the others are going to, stay stuck, and, for me, it just boils down to it’s a choice. If I’m given the choice, I’d rather move toward him, progress, like you said, and make something out of this rather than being stuck.

[20:45] Francisco: Since we are body, soul, and spirit. I think the “balance” is asking are we living by the flesh or by the Spirit? We can totally be engrossed in our flesh, and if we think what happens to our bodies is the full picture of what is happening to us.

[22:09] It’s a good reminder that even the best of the best of the best who are known to be optimistic and positive and open and happy, you know, have their down days, too, and they’ve had their share of tragedies, and yet they can still have a different mindset, and that’s because it is new — you work on it and, you know, one of the things I’ll just add to this is we are all different personalities, you know. You and I may be more prone to being more optimistic, right? And then there are those who are just more prone to being more pessimistic, or realistic, many of them say. And so there’s no right or wrong. I think it’s just that it’s how are you going to respond or how are you going to react, and, you know, if the situation is exactly the same in you to feel better if you respond, and worse appear react, to me, it just boils down to a choice: why wouldn’t you go toward, you know, the better, but, you know, so many times it’s just going to pull down our personalities, right?

[26:57] Well, so, real quick, I want to make mention to a couple things, too, because, as people were posting this on Facebook, posting the comments, I actually came and said, “Hey, thank you!” and then asked, “If you guys vent, do you stuff it, do you give voice to it just to get some perspective, write about it?”

[27:14] Greg: Yes. And I run it out.

[27:17] Ricci: Yes! My poor husband listens to me vent and voice my negative thoughts. He’s a great listener 😂

[27:22] Steve: I let it out when I do my fitness flows. I love and just let myself physically vent to loud music! 😊🤘🏼

[28:18] Even in knowing what works for you, because everybody’s different, and I’m personally somebody that I need to be quiet. I need to be alone, and I need to have my thoughts, and I need to pray, and I need to be — if I’m outside, it helps me to just perspective it — you know, I guess that word…a lot of this, so I think it’s just different perspective. But for other people it’s running, or, you know, I think that’s the case for my husband. He’s a runner, but just knowing what it is for you, because those times are going to come, and if they haven’t yet they will, know that you know how do you really, how do you manage it?

[29:09] Justin: I’m careful about how I vent. I find it all too tempting to vent with words that rob me of my ability to do anything such as blaming. So when I do vent, I try to use words that express my frustration and pain and hurt without trying to hurt others. Note that this has been an intentional and slow process to change some deeply-ingrained habits.

[30:18] There is tension and this is what I struggle with, this, and I know when I was younger, I would pick up the phone as soon as I had a challenge and I’d call a girlfriend and I’d want to talk it out. There’s that challenge, and that is sometimes just keeping that negativity going, it’s not going to help you, and I just get somebody else fired up and then that keeps that dialogue going, and the other thing is, you know, and, going back to my faith, is I’m taking other people and I’m not taking God. And so it’s just that balance, so you have the venting first — it may not be serving me — and so I think it’s just figuring out, you know, if you are going to vent to somebody else, is it going to create a solution or is it going to create, just keeping the problem going?

[31:05] Audrey: Ecclesiastes 7:3 talks about times like these. During extreme trials, when it hurts to breathe, “Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” We need to feel our legitimate sadness and anger because if we push them away, they will grow to consume us inside, taking up more and more space, until there is no room left for joy once the storm passes.

 [33:18] And maybe it’s the sense that the difference between venting and discovery, you know, through counselling, through, through really just evaluating your thoughts and why am I feeling this way that’s healthy. Venting, in my opinion, is more just sharing the negativity and without the willingness to find, you know, the good in it or learn a lesson and all.

[35:21] Friends, I really hope this show helps you better deal with the hard aspects of life, and better apply a positive outlook. But also have grace on yourself and others. Thanks again to all who submitted their comment for the show.

[35:38] If you got value, the most valuable way to let us know is by leaving a review in iTunes.  And if you do, we want to thank you! Literally, if you’ll leave a review in iTunes, email us at and we’ll send you Zig Ziglar and Tom Ziglar’s book, Born to Win. An actual hard copy! Again, email us at and tell us the user name you used in iTunes. We’ll thank you by sending you the Born to Win physical book!

[36:12] Coming up next in show 561, we bring you a truly amazing, amazing man.  We all come into or end up in this world with some challenges. And just because someone else’s challenges might seem bigger, it doesn’t negate our own. We all want to know how to deal with them better. With more joy, peace, and success, right? Well, we have a guy who is flat out anointed in this area. Nick Vujicic. He was born with no arms and no legs. Stop and think about that for a minute. What could you do with no arms and no legs? What hope would you have.? Yet, Nick is one of the most sought-after speakers on the planet, often getting 100 speaking requests per week. Literally. Why? Because he’s one of the most overcoming, inspirational people you’ll have ever heard. But it’s real-world stuff, folks. He also almost committed suicide. This isn’t some Pollyanna face on hardship. I’d tell you more, but…trust me. You won’t want to miss this interview that Tom Ziglar and I had with Nick. Till then…