Day 8 of November’s National Health Blog Challenge Month!
I remember, vividly, a trip to the dentist when I was 7 years old. I was in the second grade and it was my yearly dental check up. My mom was like clockwork when it came to keeping monthly and yearly dental, eye exam, and doctor visits for her only child. Looking back, I admire that and am very grateful. At the time, I thought she just delighted in finding fresh ways to annoy me. On this particular visit, I remember two things in particular:
- Something being put over my mouth and nose that smelled like Dentyne. I thought that was pretty cool and made the entire thing almost worth it.
- I remember a huge, heavy, weighted blanket being put over my little second grader-sized body before they took x-rays of my teeth.
When they put the heavy blanket on me, I wasn’t expecting it to be so heavy. I nearly slid out of the chair. Even then I had a flair for the dramatic.
I thought about this moment recently when thinking about negativity. I’ve always despised negativity of any kind. I think my husband has possibly the best “code word” for negativity. He calls it TOXIC. I think I’ve written about it before on the self help blog, but I’ll briefly re-tell the story. He had gone out of town for a two day golf outing with a business acquaintance. When he came home, I met him at the door and he practically ran inside, shaking “off” something – like someone shakes off snow or rain. That’s when he told me that he felt like he needed to de-tox after being with this guy because he was just a constant source of negative energy and toxicity.
Every since I first heard him describe it that way, I’ve associated the negativity and toxicity together.
The world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity, and a lot of judgment. I just think people need to start shifting into joy and happiness. As corny as it sounds, we need to make a shift. – Ellen DeGeneres
Negativity = Toxicity
In the way the dentist’s assistant draped the heaviest blanket in the world over me to protect me from the x-rays, I try to throw up a virtual blanket to protect myself from toxic negativity.
Here’s the thing. I realized a while back that we generally despise in others things that we, ourselves, aren’t guilty of.
- People who have worked hard all of their life detest laziness. If they thinks someone’s getting a “hand out” when they could be and should be working for it (like they do), they don’t just get angry – they get HULK angry!
- People who don’t have a racist or judgmental bone in their body see red when someone else has more than a few such nasty bones.
- People who are grateful for everything they have – and aren’t bitter about the things they don’t have – tend to have zero patience for ingrates.
- People who are positive want to run… not walk… away from negativity.
I happen to be a very positive person. It’s not that I haven’t seen my share of loss, heartache, and disappointment. I most certainly have. However, I have enough sense to realize that it’s all part of life and I don’t, for a second, consider myself “mistreated” by life. Some people groan, sigh, and complain so much I want to tell them to just go shut themselves off from the rest of the world if they have it so bad. They seem to think they, somehow, deserve more than they have.
I really lose patience with people who complain and gripe about their lives when there are people out there right now suffering through unimaginable circumstances and just trying to learn how to smile again. Just recently, Hurricane Sandy ripped people’s lives and families apart. I’ve read stories of people who have lost their homes, and far worse their children. So, no, I really don’t want to hear anyone complain about not being able to get all the Christmas gifts they want to this year because times are so hard.
Negativity creates an air of defeat and misery. When exposed to it, it can seem overwhelming and you all but find yourself gasping for breath!
The best thing to do is protect yourself from as much negativity as possible. Like a heavy blanket protects a small child from x-rays, common sense can protect us all from the effects of negativity.
Why Guard Against Negativity?
Simple – because if you expose yourself to something long enough (or if you, yourself, take part in the sport), it will become commonplace. It WILL become your normal. It’s the same with just about everything – not just negativity. Ever see someone who dresses or behaves in a socially unacceptable way and wonder, “What are they thinking?!”
They’re thinking they’re normal.
The way they look, the obnoxious way they act, their constant stream of negativity…. it’s their commonplace.
That’s why it’s so important to take inventory of your behavior, your life, your habits, and the way you treat people on a regular basis. If we were all as honest about our own shortcomings as we are everyone else’s, we’d be able to recognize the mistakes we’re making before they cement in and become our normal or our commonplace.
I run a web publishing business from home, which means I write for, create, publicize, decorate, and/or maintain around 20 websites and blogs. To say I spend a great deal of time online wouldn’t just be an understatement, it’d be a gross understatement. Someone was talking about something that happened on Twitter one day and they asked me, “Did you see…..” I had to stop them with, “Of course I saw it on Twitter… if it’s online, I see it. Just try to sneak something by me online!”
Because I’m online a great deal of time, I see a lot… a lot a lot a lot… of negativity. It seems like people think of online communities, forums, blogs, Twitter and other social media sites as their own personal place to spread negativity. They’re like, “YEAH, BABY… I CAN MAKE THIS TOXICITY GO VIRAL!!!”
And, then.. so often they do.
There’s a domino effect to negativity – online and off. If you don’t guard against it, you won’t just become infected, yourself, you’ll become a carrier. Forgive the bluntness, but crap spreads. Think about reality shows. Some of the ones on today are disgusting, offensive, reprehensible, and downright embarrassing to humanity! They didn’t happen overnight. They snuck up on us because, slowly but surely, they became our normal – our commonplace.
If you’re a bundle of negativity today – you didn’t start out that way. However, over the years, it became your “thing.” Don’t let it identify you anymore. Shake, shake, shake, shake it off!
Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. – Dr. Hans Selye
Ways to Guard Against Negativity
I, myself, have unfollowed extremely negative people on Twitter. Some complaining and venting will happen – it’s perfectly natural. But when every single tweet reeks of misery and hate – I’m out. I don’t need that in my life, quite frankly.
I’ve also stopped reading a few blogs because the author or authors weren’t people I’d want to sit down and have lunch with. In fact, if I saw them coming in the front door, I’d head out the back! They say misery loves company… so I’ll just leave the miserable to one another. I don’t need their black clouds hovering over me.
I’ve heard of a few people who deleted their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts because they couldn’t handle all of the bickering, complaining, and negativity. Personally, I think it’s easier just to distance yourself from the offenders. Having said that, however, it’s far better to delete them than to let them have a negative effect on you.
I’ve also heard a lot of people complain about forums and health-related communities. I don’t visit forums often – only when I need help with a certain blog theme or plugin – but I have to admit, there are people on forums who seem to have one goal for the day: To rub as many people the wrong way as possible. There is a female moderator (ironically there to help people… the last thing she ever seems to want to do!) on a particular tech-related forum who is so hateful, rude, and disrespectful that people have started asking for one of the other moderators in their topics! Basically, they’re saying, “I don’t want to deal with the she-devil..”
If you find that a certain website, blog, forum, or community is uncommonly negative, my advice is to avoid it. Don’t let them rub off on you.
I have NEVER missed any negativity that I kicked out of my life. In fact, I’ve always asked myself, “Why’d you wait so long?!” Whether it’s a mean-spirited blog or someone on a social media site who does nothing but complain, I find that, oddly enough, I never miss toxicity.
That’s my gift. I let that negativity roll off me like water off a duck’s back. If it’s not positive, I didn’t hear it. – George Foreman
Find a way to walk on the positive side of life – and once you’re there, never stray!