Friday, July 9, 2010

Averting Negativity

I just happened upon an online article about how to shield one's self from negativity, and it got me thinking about how I protect myself that way and hang onto my sanity and sense of personal peace. Here are my key tips:

1. Give yourself permission to say "No."

I'm not just talking about saying "No" when someone asks you to do something you don't want to do. Of course, it's important to be able to say "No" to another's request when you don't want to go along just to get along. I'm thinking more along the lines of saying "No" internally, where no one else may even know that you've said "No." It's the self-talk that gives yourself permission not to ramp up your anxiety when the anxiety demons are yelling and screaming inside your head to give in to their scree and let your emotions spin out of control. It's the dogged digging in of your mental heels that says to those anxiety demons, "I'm not going there, and you can't make me go." In practical terms, what's usually involved is empowering yourself to ignore the inputs all around you that point in a direction you've decided not to follow. The key is making the decision not to be pushed and pulled.

2. Practice strategic self-indulgence.

Sometimes it's important to indulge in periods of rest, relaxation and self-pampering - especially when your psyche is telling you, "Stop the world. I want to get off." It's a known fact that we Americans do not have a good sense of sabbath, where we honor the time intentionally set aside for recuperation, renewal and reconciliation with our families, friends and better selves. Even our leisure activities tend to be programmed, time intensive and often competitive, so that our work habits spill over into our time away from work. Often referred to as "mental health days," we must take the initiative to walk away occasionally from all that important stuff to take care of the truly important stuff of rekindling our spirits and reconnecting to the things that give us joy and hope. Practically speaking, this might look like anything from a spa day to a day of hiking or hibernating inside with the phones and computers turned off. You get to choose.

3. Lighten up.

Negativity often appears in the form of feeling weighted down with no apparent path to emerge for air and sustenance. So, lightening up in every sense of becoming lighter is helpful. I find that fasting for a day, culling old clothes from my closet, canceling unwanted magazine subscriptions, filling up the recycle and Goodwill bins, or cleaning the fridge all drive the negative vibes away. I emerge from those activities feeling immensely nimbler, more energized and eager to go on rather than feeling mired. For us inveterate list makers, lightening up has the added benefit of items being checked off your "to do" list.

4. Listen to music.

Most of us have some favorite music that we find inspirational and uplifting. I suggest making playlists or CDs of the dozen such pieces to play over and over when you need an emotional boost or calming of frayed nerves. Several years ago, Herb made a compilation of different artists' performances of Amazing Grace for me, and I recently made a compilation of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah by different performers for myself. Those compilations lift me up when I'm in the doldrums and feeling unmotivated. To give myself a proverbial kick in the pants and get the juices flowing when I need to tackle a big project around the house, I have other compilations of driving rock music that no one can sit still to. This is probably the tip that I forget to turn myself onto most often, because I tend to read and work at my computer in silence.

I'd be interested in hearing your tips to avert negativity.

1 comment:

Myrna R. said...

I struggle with negativity daily - averting it seems to be my job. Your tips are great. For me - reading positive literature, or spirituality books help a lot, also dancing, being silly, letting go of the seriousness I perceive in life. I find these things uplift my spirit.

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