Every day we face an overwhelming opponent. It has more strength than we can comprehend because it is continually fed by the world, and by us. It has a tendency to slip into the quietest moment and leave behind its lingering trace. Even in its smallest form, it is more potent than the moment realizes.
I am speaking of negativity.
I have been catching myself allowing negativity to slip into my thoughts and words. It’s disappointing. I have let this beast firmly take root in my mind and heart, and it’s going to take a great deal of effort to surgically remove it from within me.
I know I am not the only one facing this challenge, so I want to share the three things I am doing in this effort. They will probably sound familiar.
Because I have lost trust in how I re-actively respond, I have begun pausing before I say things. Why? Because when I speak as quickly as I think, my initial thoughts have too often been laced with negative words.
For example, when asked how my day is going my first response has too often included negative disclaimers. When driving near a frustrating driver, I find myself blurting out faux expletives in an elevated tone to express my frustration. At work, at home, around family… I keep catching myself doing it all day long! I do not like what I have become!
So, I have been making myself stop and think before saying things. This usually allows me to recognize where my thoughts were headed and cut them off. I can then replace the negative words with more appropriate, and more accurate statements. This does not mean things are always good and happy, but the way I react and speak about them can certainly improve, and my reaction directly influences how I experience the rest of my day. It is making a significant difference!
The next thing I am trying to do is drop unnecessary words from my vocabulary. Negatively influencing words usually just aren’t necessary.
It does not bring value to a statement when you add unnecessary, negative words. They do not increase the significance of your communication. More likely they are hurting. Negative words, especially expletives, make you appear frustrated, limited in vocabulary, and make you sound foolish.
Learning to drop the negativity from your communication means that the message which is received will be clear and carry its full meaning.
In his book, The Difference Maker, John C. Maxwell says
“Nobody can motivate himself in a positive direction by continually using negative words.”
I believe this. I believe that you can influence your life by your choice of words and thoughts. Don’t allow the negative influences of the world subjugate you to their will. You take control by dropping the negative. Better yet, find opportunities to improve upon them by adding positives.
So…. Stop, drop, and finally……
That’s right… Stop, Drop, and Roll.
After working on stopping my thoughts in order to formulate a more appropriate and accurate response, and learning to drop the negativity from my communication, I am now working on rolling. What do I mean?
Roll with it!
Roll with what comes. Roll with the fact that life is hard. Roll with the reality that life can be frustrating. Roll with the understanding that it will leave you disappointed at times.
You cannot control what life brings to you, but you do get to control how you respond to it.
When you take a calmer, more relaxed approach to your life, you realize that you can actually influence what happens next. Even after being dealt a blow that could leave you hurt or broken, you can choose to find the positives. It’s not an easy thing, but living your life in a way that you don’t allow the hardships to control you will in essence dictate how much those hardships actually impact you.
There are countless stories of people who have taken overwhelming setbacks and found ways to see the positives in them. I am not suggesting it is easy, or that I have by any means mastered this, but I am working on seeing things differently.
Rather than judging the glass as half full or half empty, see a glass with the potential to hold life giving water, and you as capable of taking action to fill it up.
Don’t allow the little, truly insignificant things that happen to us every day to become anything more than the minor inconvenience that they really are.
It’s time to put out the fires
I have to admit that there have been days when I allowed a little spark of bad to catch hold and eventually ignite into a growing fire of negativity. I have fabricated entire days of misery from a minor setback that was really not that big of a deal. Stop feeding fires.
Try using my stop, drop, and roll approach to change the way you act and react. With enough practice you will begin seeing significant changes in how your day goes. You will start seeing the demon of negativity leave because you no longer give him a place to stay.
I promise you that this will greatly improve your life. You will feel more hopeful. You will feel more capable. You will be more successful.
You get to influence your life, for good or bad, so choose the good and let it lead you to the life you have been wanting. Your family will appreciate it, your co-workers will appreciate it, and you will appreciate it. I believe in you. Go put out those fires!
Question: Has there been a time you caught yourself being negative and chose to change? What was that experience like? Leave a comment below.