Nurturing The Good

mind is a garden

It is all too easy to let negative thoughts take over our minds.  They really are like weeds.  They are there, whether we want them to be or not, and they just keep showing up no matter how hard we try to get rid of them.  Like weeds, negative thoughts also have a tendency to easily take over and crowd out all the good.

On the other hand, positive thoughts and memories are more like plants or flowers because we want to appreciate their beauty and relevance to our lives.  But if the plants or flowers do not get the nutrients, sun, and water that they need, then they will not grow.  So there is effort that is necessary to make that happen.  All the positive things in our lives are the same way.  We need to nurture them in whatever way is appropriate. Continue reading

Removing The Toxins

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Have you ever thought about whether you have toxic people in your circle of friends and family and how much value they are adding to your life?  Or perhaps it’s your significant other who may be toxic.  It’s not the most positive thing to think about by any stretch of the imagination.  It’s also not the easiest thing to admit that a toxic person has been in your life longer than they should have.  Some people are clearly toxic and we can come to that conclusion without much thought.  Other people may be a little more difficult to put in that category, especially if we have known them a long time or if there have been a lot of positive aspects of the relationship which have resulted in us being willing to overlook all of the toxic behaviors.

The degree to which someone can be toxic can vary greatly, ranging from people who easily get under out skin because they are so annoying, hurtful, disrespectful, or any number of other things, to people who just tend to weigh us down because they always have their own drama that they pull us into easily.  These people may have many other redeeming qualities, so we put up with the drama.  But sometimes it just gets to be too much, especially when this person may not realize or be willing to admit how much they contribute to the drama.

I am trying to focus on the positives in my life and making more positive changes.  It’s refreshing being around other people who have the same attitude and focus.  On the flip side, it is mentally draining being around people who are very critical and judgmental, who push people’s buttons but then are surprised at a negative reaction, who blame everyone else but themselves for everything and are always the victim, who are always looking for others to back them up in blaming others, who aren’t accountable for their own actions, who focus on the negatives, who tend to put their own needs first and like to be the center of attention, who tend to take more than they give, who always need to be right and in control, and who are not open to any kind of constructive criticism.

Just as toxins that come from processed foods, sugars, chemicals, air pollution, and so many other things are not good for our overall physical health, toxic people are not good for our mental health.  Sometimes we need to take a step back, evaluate the situation, and ask ourselves if it is really worth it to keep putting up with the negative behaviors.  In some cases, or for a while, the answer may be yes.  But when the answer is or becomes no, then we need to have the courage to let go of that person, even though it may be difficult at first.  It may feel like a big weight off of our shoulders right away, or it could take a while to realize that we made the right decision.  As much as some of us tend to put others’ needs above our own and want to be there for everyone who needs a shoulder to lean on, sometimes we need to think of our own well-being.  I recently saw a meme that says, “Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.  If someone falls out, then they weren’t meant to be in your boat.”  This is so true.

Part of eliminating the toxins has to come from ourselves though too.  It’s important to self-reflect and ask ourselves if we are too critical or judgmental, if we are better talkers than listeners, if we tend to look for things to complain about, if we tend to blame others rather than take ownership of our mistakes or whatever we might have done to contribute to a negative situation, and so on.  It’s never to late to start making improvements in these areas, which will not only be good for those around us, but will help us feel better too.

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Holding Grudges

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The topic of grudges has been on my mind lately because I recently had a friend admit that she was upset about something that I DIDN’T say (or didn’t say enough) to her last year.  This came out in relation to something she was upset about recently, and it became apparent that she has been holding a grudge about last year and exhibiting passive aggressive behavior towards me in the meantime.  And then when she finally did express her frustration, she didn’t hesitate to include some insults and other very hurtful things.  I would have preferred that she said something a year ago instead, rather than let it affect how she has treated me since then.

Ironically, she is generally pretty quick to tell other people if there is something they have done or said that bothers her.  That’s the other extreme, where we don’t hesitate to point out every little thing.  But that can be difficult NOT to do with the people who continue to repeat the same patterns of behavior that irritate us or hurt our feelings. It’s hard to resist the urge when it happens so frequently.  I can relate to both of the situations, as I too have people in my life who are repeat offenders with plenty of negative behaviors, but I have also hesitated to tell her things that she has done in the past that I didn’t like.  I was willing to overlook the negatives with her because the positives outweighed them.

I understand that it’s difficult to tell people we care about that they have hurt our feelings or disappointed us somehow, especially if we don’t think they are going to react very well.  Or perhaps it’s a matter of not wanting to upset the fruit basket, so to speak.  Unfortunately, when we don’t speak up, things fester, and little things become bigger than they should.  And when we finally have the courage to say something, it often doesn’t come out in the most constructive way. Once my buttons were pushed, it wasn’t difficult to let her know about the negatives I was no longer willing to overlook, just as she was not hesitant to say hurtful things to me.

Neither complaining frequently nor choosing to not say something at all are necessarily the best way to go about dealing with frustration or hurt feelings. Listening to someone complain all the time gets very old and can be mentally draining at times. Yet, holding onto negative feelings for a long time can be just as toxic.  Both can tip the scale so that it seems like there are more negatives than positives in whatever type of relationship.  Somewhere in the middle is probably the best approach where we pick our battles, so to speak, and find a way to constructively point out the things that bother us the most and try to let go of the less significant things. Otherwise, we run the risk of having to decide if we are willing to let go of the friendship or relationship that has become toxic instead.

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Resilience

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Lately I’ve been feeling very resilient, like I’m bouncing back from everything that has ever gone wrong in my life … finally!  I spent many years of feeling like I was in a downward spiral, dealing with a variety of situations and some people dragging me down.  A few years ago, I started feeling like I was making my way back up, slowly but surely.

It all began when I took advantage of a particular volunteer opportunity, which enabled me to feel like I was making an important difference and also surround myself with more people who were giving me positive feedback and positive interactions. Feeling like my contributions were valued and appreciated made a big difference, since I wasn’t getting that at home.  My confidence grew, and my attitude about a lot of things started to change as a result.  I began focusing on any positives for which I could be grateful, finding happiness from within, and doing things for me that made me feel happy and emotionally full.  There were plenty of days that was pretty challenging, but I was always able to find something positive that I could reflect on at the end of the day.  Little by little, I began to feel like things were turning around for me.

Now, things seem to have kicked into high gear and are changing rapidly for the better, partly due to circumstances that have changed and partly due to my improved outlook.  Everything seems to be falling into place.  It took a whole lot of patience and perseverance, but it was worth it to feel like I do now.  I am definitely a stronger person than I was a few years ago and feel like I could bounce back from anything at this point because I am much more willing and able to adjust to changes that are out of my control, make changes myself, and take risks.  My confidence level has something to do with that, too.  I know I need to make life happen the way I want it to, rather than wait for it to happen.

If “a diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well”, then no wonder I feel like I am sparkling sometimes lately.  I certainly have had my fair share of stress!  I haven’t always dealt with it very well, but I am working on that.

I certainly hope anyone reading this either has felt or will feel the same sense of resilience I am feeling right now.  It feels great, especially after having had to wait for so long to experience it.  It started with something small and eventually snowballed. So if you haven’t, find something, anything, that will make you feel a little better about yourself or your environment, even if it involves a little effort to make it happen, and see where it takes you.   And have faith that someday you will look back and be grateful that you fell, so to speak, because you will feel stronger than ever when you get back up.

Comments are always welcome!  Clicking on the “Home” page tab will allow you to scroll through other posts, or you can select a category or tag word to find similar topics.  If you would like to read future posts, please follow the blog or my Facebook page.

Finding Balance

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This is something that can be difficult to do, but it is very important for both our mental and physical health.  This can encompass so many things from what we eat to how we choose to spend our time.  Maintaining a good balance of foods is always good for your health.  We shouldn’t be working and getting things done all the time and leave no time for play.  We need to make time in our schedules for doing active things so that we are not too sedentary.  Parents need to find balance between how much time they spend with their kids and how much time they save for each other.  And they should make sure there is a balance in their parenting styles so that one parent isn’t viewed as the fun parent while the other is seen as “the nag” who only is concerned about the kids getting their things done.  Some people tend to focus more on meeting others’ needs and forget to make sure they devote some time to their own well-being.  We can easily blame others for things that go wrong or are not right in our lives, but sometimes we need to step back and assess our part in the situation and admit to our mistakes, if we made any.  At times we may find ourselves needing to hold on while other times needing to let go.  We may find ourselves focused on all the negative things happening to and around us, but at some point it all becomes easier to deal with when we can shift gears and find the positives and things for which we can be grateful.  Sometimes we need to find balance between wants and needs.  And there are times where we will be more apt to make decisions based on our fears and playing it safe, while other times we may be more willing to get out of our comfort zone and take chances.  The thing I struggle with is while spending too much time reflecting on the past and thinking about the future, I forget to enjoy the present.

These things are all great areas to strive for balance, but we shouldn’t get too undone if we can’t always achieve that balance all the time.  I look at it more of an overall thing.   Continue reading

Finding Positives in the Negatives

negatives

Wow, here I am at my 100th post already.  Who knew I had so much to say about everyday life!  I didn’t, for one, but having to deal with all the negative situations and people in my life has certainly made me think consciously about what values and character traits I wish to model and pass on to my children and what really is important in life.  Experiencing the negatives has made me think about what I want the positives to be, and having to deal with people who have been a negative influence in my kids’ and my lives has made me appreciate my friends and family who have had a positive impact even more.

I haven’t always been in a place where I can take a step back and focus on the positives in any given situation, but I am now.  It might not happen immediately, but it doesn’t take too long before I am thinking about what I am grateful for and having confidence that I will be able to deal with things, even though it may difficult at times.  It used to be that I would more often let the negatives outweigh the positives, but I’m trying my hardest not to do that anymore, especially thinking about what kind of example I want to set for my kids as to how to approach situations and life in general.

Dwelling on the negatives only leads to a downward spiral, which breeds more negativity.  While we can’t always change our circumstances, we can change how we view them and how we react to them.   Continue reading