When I was told I was terminally ill in 1994, the doctor put his arm around my shoulders as I left his office and said: “I know it’s hard but try to think positive, it helps”.
I thought he had lost his mind. I had just received devastating news and he was telling me to think positive - it felt like an impossible task. I felt like I had just been thrown overboard, lost at sea, treading water, and all I could do was just try to breathe air!
It was hard to think positive when I heard people mocking those with HIV. I listened to the radio one day and there was a joke about Magic Johnson “dribbling” a ball down the court and people clearing the way. Those kinds of comments made me feel angry and sick.
After two years, I had enough and was keenly aware that I had to be part of a change. I knew that if I wanted people to understand what it was like living with HIV, I had to get over my fear and tell people. As Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world”.
From that time on, I always felt confident that people would understand. I stopped caring what people thought. I knew I would tell them the facts and if they chose to be willfully ignorant after that, then it was not my problem, I wouldn’t take it on.
However, without knowing it, I was now thinking positive. I believe there is a difference between wanting something to happen and being sure it will. Confidence is the key. Being in the NOW, as Eckhart Tolle would say, is different than wishing for a change in the future. And I have a great recent example.
I was told I would be one of the lucky recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. I say “lucky” because I think there were many, many people who were far more worthy than me but I was very fortunate to be nominated. That aside, I knew I couldn’t afford to go to the Canadian AIDS Society World AIDS Day Gala but I had every bit of confidence that I would be going and I had no idea how or why, I just KNEW I would go.
I was so sure I would go that I started to find out who would send me and began looking for a sponsor, I had no doubt I would find one. Without the confidence, I would not have taken the action steps. After a few enquiries didn’t pan out, I thought about a lady I had recently become reacquainted with - Fiona Macfarlane, the Managing Partner of the Vancouver accounting firm of Ernst & Young International. I knew she had contacts and could recommend whom I could approach. I emailed her and she replied to leave it with her and she would give it some thought. The next day, to my huge surprise, she said she and her Ernst & Young partner, Elise Rees, would use their Aeroplan points to send me - I was stunned. I had not expected that outcome at all!
I knew then that positive thinking and confidence worked, when you believed in yourself enough to use actionable steps then mountains move. I am a strong believer that if you don’t put your knowledge into practice, then you will never succeed.
I strongly believe in being thankful for good people and knowing that you are very fortunate, recognizing it and being grateful for it. I believe with all my heart that CONFIDENCE is the key that unlocks positive thinking and is the key to the positive action door.