Life can be hard! Sometimes it feels like everywhere we turn we’re met with negativity and challenge and are left wondering if the sun will ever shine again. It doesn’t help when we are continually bombarded with things that perpetuate anxiety, anger, and a sense of hopelessness. Even the strongest person will be affected over time.
I wonder, however, how much of it we bring on ourselves.
Have you ever actually thought about what it is that drives the negativity in your life? What are those elements that bring stressful thoughts and anxiety to your door and into your mind? Are they genuinely worth your concern or are they there because you let them in?
A few days ago, I was feeling overwhelmed. So much to do, people needing my attention, appointments, scheduling, editing. The house was a wreck and we were all sick. Nothing was working out and I felt as though I was being pulled in a million different directions, none of which would ever intersect. All I could see in my mind’s eye was a mountain of tasks that would take days, if not weeks of clawing my way back into some semblance of control. In my defeat, I dropped into a chair and let the tears come.
When the moment had passed and I was done feeling sorry for myself, I picked up my glasses and gave them a good cleaning. Now, for those who know me, you know that my glasses are perpetually dirty. I’m hard on them and am guilty of wiping them off on any hem of any garment I may be wearing. Not so, this time. This time, I actually grabbed the lens cleaner and the soft cloth meant for cleaning glasses and gave them a good what for.
I have a beautiful view from my office window. It looks out over a protected wetland that is home to wildlife and birds and, even in the grayest of Winters, is peaceful and welcoming. My view on this day, through crystal clear glasses, hit me like a brick with its clarity and light and as I sat there, taking it all in, I began to consider the other areas of my life that are affected by the view I allow – the view that is filtered by my own negligence and unwillingness to do something about it.
There are, of course, many things that may influence the view, but here are my top three.
Television and the News…
Is there anything that can influence us more negatively than those things fed into our lives through TV? News media is short on reality and long on shock factors. A steady stream of that offers little that promotes positivity, resolution or well-being. I believe that everyone has a responsibility to educate himself with regard to the issues, but also to know the difference between what is truly newsworthy and what is a network’s attempt at convincing us the sky is falling.
TV in general can have a huge negative influence! Generally speaking, does Hollywood offer anything of merit these days? We all have different opinions, of course, but if you, as I, find TV to be nothing more than an endless source of brain-numbing, less than entertaining bilge, maybe it’s because you allow it to be. No one is forcing you to watch it.
Choose better – change your view – clean your screen!
Have you ever stopped to wonder how something as truly insignificant as Facebook (and social media in general) has morphed into such a cesspool of negativity and anxiety — daily? Facebook can be a wonderful way to stay in touch with one another and share our stories with family and friends. It can also be a veritable black hole of aggression, questionable content, and hate! Why do we stay then? Because there ARE good things there – things that make us laugh, that teach, that allow us to connect positively. If your social media experience is causing you so much anxiety that you feel the need to walk away, it could be that your view of it needs a good cleaning.
A while back, I had absolutely had it with Facebook. What had once been a source of enjoyment was no longer. Political and social arguments had all but destroyed an enjoyable pastime and I recognized that the negativity was affecting me. I didn’t want to leave – I shouldn’t have had to, as I had as much right to stand my ground as those who were perpetuating the madness. Not to mention that I use social media very heavily for business. I also recognized that it was I who was allowing the negativity to leach into my world. I didn’t HAVE to and I had options.
What to do when social media brings you down – when people and posts you allow into your circle cause your experience there to be anything but positive? BLOCK them – as in B-L-O-C-K them!! Unfollow, delete, reconfigure – whatever you need to do to minimize or eliminate the source. The simple click of a button negates the influence and lifts the quality of your facebook experience exponentially.
I took it one step further. For every person or page that I blocked or unfollowed, I added ten positive ones – things that made me smile or brought me peace or taught me something worthwhile. It has made a world of difference in my social media world and those people I shut out don’t even know I did it. They can spew their negativity all they want, but I don’t have to see it.
Lift yourself up – disinfect your friend list — control what you’ll accept – clean your view!
Negative people are everywhere and it’s hard when they bring that negativity into your life. Sometimes it’s an easy thing to ease them out, but oftentimes it is not. With people there may be no right or wrong way to handle things. Each person, each connection, each dynamic differs and so there can be no one or simple answer. We all have had or still have those individuals who bring stress, anxiety, and unwanted drama to our door, but when we recognize it as THEIR problem and not ours – that it only becomes ours if we let it inside – it then becomes more manageable.
There are times when we are not able to physically shut a negative person out of our lives. That’s a given. But, it’s also true that we possess the ability to symbolically keep them at bay by not allowing them to cross over the threshold of our pre-established acceptance levels, thus keeping them, and the negativity they bring, outside where it belongs. If in our minds eye we are able to change our mental view on those drama-filled people, their presence, and thus their influence, becomes less significant.
There’s another thing I’ve learned when dealing with negativity in people who can’t or won’t be changed. Ignore it and them! Let it go, recognizing that nothing you say or do will alter the situation so stop trying and stop worrying. I can ignore a hateful person clear into the next century if necessary or if they push me far enough. Live your life with joy and purpose. Show with your actions that you are quite alright despite and without the drama – that your peace does not require, nor will it be influenced by continuous negativity. It’s amazing how quickly people who thrive on drama and control will back off when they realize that they no longer have the ability to affect you and yours. Seeing you living well — over, around, and through them, and doing it with grace, will often cause them to recognize that they cannot influence you any longer.
Adapt a new perspective – limit who comes through your mind’s door – sweep the dust from your porch – wash your windows!
We all know that part of life is challenge, that we will always have negativity in one form or another to deal with. The point I’m trying to make is that, in many cases, we end up entertaining more than we must because of what we allow and how we choose to view it. We settle because we forget that we have choices and so our view becomes filtered by things we have the power to alter and ultimately control.
People, circumstances, and those things that influence our lives are as changeable as the wind, but our choices with regard to perspective can be altered by something as simple as the lens through which we see them, much like the sun hidden behind clouds.
Don’t let those things you have the ability to control steal your joy or lessen your experience or draw you into the drama. We shouldn’t have to see our own lives through someone else’s camera.
Smash the filters. Wipe the steam from the windows. Change the channel. Clean your glasses.
Life is good and just because the clouds are covering the sun doesn’t mean it isn’t still shining.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2