Everywhere you look, there are messages about positivity and being a positive person. These things make it sound like it is so simple to be a positive individual, but I can attest, personally, that the opposite is quite true. I’ve always liked to think of myself as a positive and optimistic person, and I’ve always tried to spin things into a more likeable frame of view. However, I recently found myself in a pickle of sorts, and I have to say I was taken aback. It’s quite true that environment shapes us. Sometimes we find ourselves surrounded by unhealthy habits and extremely unhealthy thoughts. It’s not always so easy to see the impact that these things have on us as individuals, and often we are the last ones to notice the minute changes to our own thought patterns.
I think the glaringly obvious moment for me was when I said, “I hate everything about this place!” It was so unlike me, and not a usual response to anything in my life. I’m not saying that I always like everything about my life, I’d be lying. But, I have always been the person who finds the silver lining, or who finds that positive spin to things. More to a point, I’ve always believed that there was a reason for most things that we endure. My response to my environment, though, provoked a thought process. What exactly didn’t I like? What was going on around me? Why would my thoughts lead me in this direction? After thinking things through thoroughly, I became very adamant about the obvious changes that needed to be made in my environment.
We often become enablers of negative thinkers. Perhaps it’s not something that we hear right away, or that we see at first glance. Occasionally we meet people that are going through rough times. Maybe you’ve tried to be a friend to someone who was struggling, and, like me, you were sucked into the vortex of negative thinking. I don’t mean to say that people who are going through rough patches are only negative people, but there is a mindset that becomes a nasty habit if it’s allowed to perpetuate. I quickly realized that, in my current situation, I had become an enabler. I was surrounded by people who were constantly talking about quitting their job (because they hated it), didn’t feel good (due to perpetual illnesses), and always had some measure of bad fortune in their lives. They were all too happy to share these misfortunes with any who gave them two good ears. I often found myself nodding, and providing the appropriate placating responses that are supposed to embody empathy. What I realize now is this: None of those things made me a very good friend. In fact, all of these things were turning me into a consistent complainer myself. I began to operate under the “When in Rome” rule.
What I learned from my experience is that, to be a good friend, you can’t just be sympathetic, or even empathetic. Sometimes, people need a swift kick in the rear, albeit a metaphorical one. In order to trade unhealthy habits for healthier ones, I needed to put that positive spin back in my step, and I needed to be that reality check that some people around me desperately needed. To those who continued to complain about feeling ill, my advice quickly became, “See your doctor”. To those talking constantly about quitting their job, I simply said, “Perhaps it’s time to find a different line of work”. And to the rest who carried on with their misfortunes, I began to steer away, instead turning the conversation to more benign topics. It’s perfectly okay to listen sometimes, but when it becomes the bane of a relationship, that isn’t much of a relationship at all. Relationships should definitely be mutual, for sure, and built on something more than commiseration, or wallowing in self pity. I’ve seen changes firsthand, in the way that people respond to me, and I know that I have made steps to changing things for the better. That is the most important lesson that I have learned: Changing things for the better. After all, you can be positively negative, or you can remove the negativity altogether. There will always be a balance in life, and you certainly can’t remove every bad element that gets thrown your way. However, you can decide to face the bad with a “can-do” attitude and a smile.
As per most things I write, these are my musings. They tend to help remind me to think in better ways, and if they happen to help others in the process then that’s incredibly awesome. Until next I write again…….