Throughout my life, I have been influenced by conflict and negativity but over the last few years I have discovered a great way to disconnect from these influences. The first way is to look within, are you the problem? The second way is to cast them away… but it’s not that simple. You cannot expect that you can avoid all conflict and negativity but you can be smart about it. There is a third way, but hiding yourself in a cave is not feasible.
First you need to establish if you are the problem. Are these people or situations truly negative? Or are you letting yourself label those situations as negative? I must admit, in the past I have viewed some people as pests. They always seemed needy, they would go on and on when they talked to me, or maybe even resorted to bad jokes! Ugh! The problem was me. They tried to talk to me, maybe, because they suffered from loneliness. They just needed someone to talk to and I was not there for them. Maybe the bad joke was a conversation starter but I just took it as idle chatter. I know one person who likely has a mental health issue; when he talks to people they act differently to him, they are almost startled as if he was about to gobble them up. Like the person who may be lonely and looking for conversation, this person with the mental health issue may be looking for that conversation too. Are these people causing conflict and negativity in your life or is it your reaction to them?
Then there are situations that arise at work, school or home. How many of you have had something to work on, maybe someone added an additional responsibility on top of what you were already looking to accomplish and for the rest of the time you worked on the project, you fumed or complained? I worked for a One Hour photo lab when I was younger and remember how many customers would come to the counter while I was trying to process film and get the pictures packaged and ready for the returning customers. I spent so much time saying to myself “I will never get it all done” that it seemed that I did more complaining than actually working. One day I realized how much angst I was putting myself through and decided to work up a routine to do the work and help the customers. The less complaining I did, the more accomplished I felt. The work wasn’t the issue, I was the issue.
Your biggest obstacle is yourself! Once you start working on yourself, you can then discover the people and situations that are truly toxic to your life.
Sometimes it is easy to avoid the toxic people or situations in your life but sometimes they could be family or friends –or careers, social situations. In the instance of people being toxic, you could always level with them, that they introducing negative aspects in your life that you are looking to avoid. It may be difficult but it could lead to a discussion on mediating their behavior. Maybe the relationship can be salvaged but if not, move on.
Negative situations can also come up in your career or in social situations. This can include office politics, unhappy customers, political/religious debates and sports rivalries with friends. It’s not so easy to solve toxic situations at work no matter who you are dealing with and sometimes quitting is not the answer. Again, you need to make a determination if you are the issue or even part of the issue. Try to work with those people, if issues arise, is it due to the other person suffering? If so, can you work it out with that person? Although sometimes it is not feasible, sometimes you just need to find a new job and move on.
I do find in life, many people bring up political, religious, social issues and even sports rivalries to get a rise out of other people. I always felt the need to defend my position but as I get older, I know where I stand in life and no longer feel the need to have to defend every position I take. …and in fact, as I was writing this blog, someone posted this picture on social media 🙂
“The less you respond to rude, critical, argumentative people, the more peaceful your life will become” It’s true! How many times do people get into arguments on Social Media or even in the Comment section? Sometimes people throw bait in the waters and we feel inclined to respond. How better to draw attention to an article by lighting a match under peoples feelings and emotions? One of the Five Precepts in Buddhism is to abstain from false speech. Even the Noble Eightfold Path can be used in this lesson:
My friends, I have only been working on this for about two years, it gets better as you practice but I am far from perfect in my thinking. Change what you can, accept what you cannot but always practice and make it work for you. Discover the negativity, where it comes from, work with it and if you have to, leave the negativity behind.