“The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely to be the one who dropped it.”
Too often, we consume ourselves with negativity. Be it a negative attitude, a negative friend, a negative self-image, a dead-end job, or an unhealthy relationship, we allow the negativity into our lives and succumb to its power. Sometimes, it simply sits within our minds and barely makes itself known. Every so often it will appear in the form of a negative comment, or feeling of insecurity, but usually stays out of sight. Sometimes, it comes and goes–making us feel secure in thinking we have control over it, when, in reality, its ability to keep coming back solidifies its control over us. But, when it’s in remission, so to speak, we feel good–positive– healthy, so we do not consider it a problem. We liken these two types of negativity to a bad day… a bad run of luck… a temporary setback. These are acceptable, right? Everyone has bad days now and again… Right?
Then, there is the type of negativity that becomes our identity. We have all seen it in someone we know– the person is simply the most miserable human being on the face of this planet. Never a good word to say, or a helping hand for a person in need. Never sees the joys in life, but quickly–as if a magnet–attracts every misfortune and makes certain all around are aware of said misfortune. This kind of negativity is dangerous. It is the downfall of many healthy relationships. It is the deterioration of self-worth. It is the rack and ruin of careers. It is the decent into a very lonely and miserable existence. But, yet, we are seemingly unaware when this decent begins. One day we are going along, with nothing but the clouds to bring us down, and, then, as if we took a trip into the Twilight Zone, the very next day we are struggling to keep our perspective and not consider every bump in the road a deliberate derailment of our journey. We see every hurdle as a burden to bear. We believe every cancellation of plans, or inability to mesh schedules with friends and loved ones as rejection. We take criticism as insult.
I have often described my life as a soap opera. NO ONE could have happen to them the things that happen to me, I mean, consistently happen to me. One friend loves to (jokingly) poke fun at me saying how just when he thinks things couldn’t possibly get worse, I call him and unload another doozy. I have often compared my life to the ‘Shit Fan’. What is the ‘Shit Fan’ you ask? Ah, let me explain…… The ‘Shit Fan’ is the huge, Vornado-like fan that is continuously spewing shit. All shit all the time. I KNOW everyone has, at some point in their life, stood in front of a blowing fan. You know, like when it’s super hot outside, and you stand in front of the fan to get the direct hit of moving air– well, the fan in front of which I choose to stand…my moving air on that really hot summer day…. is a shit fan. A super-poweful, always-running shit fan. And for whatever reason, while I have always SEEN the shit coming, I have been unable to step to the side.
So, it covers me.
Head. To. Toe.
Covered in shit.
And WHY am I writing about this shit fan? And what could it possibly have to do with the quote above? Well, today, while walking with my friends at the track, we somehow began a conversation about how two of us seem to focus on the negative aspects of our lives, therefore never allowing ourselves out of the vicious downward spiral of emotion–while the other sees the negative aspects as opportunities to welcome positive aspects in turn. So, it got me thinking– why DO I focus on all of the negativity surrounding me– allowing it to attach its cold, dark tentacles into my brain? Why am I not able to just see things as bumps in the road rather than huge, cavernous spaces into which I will undoubtedly fall? Why do I take just about every single criticism personally–solidifying my belief that I am simply a failure in this life? That I’m a terrible mother? That I’m stupid–both intellectually and emotionally? That I am as wanted as that never-ending spray of shit coming from the shit fan?
Dang.. maybe that’s what the counselor thinks I should come back for some more “individual sessions”. LOL!
I have blamed everything bad in my life on someone or something else. My too-strick parents. My (basically) absentee mother. My brother for being WAY smarter than I in school, leaving me to listen to how I should be better and smarter. My hip injuries for quitting running (which, yes.. that one is legit, but still, I could have continued to exercise in other manners..). The economy for my low paying job. My husband for not paying enough attention to me, or for straying during our marriage, or for keeping me from seeing my family in other states, or for telling me I’m ‘too fat to be taken seriously in any public speaking type of position.’ My kids for being, well, for being typical kids. My friends for being thinner, or way prettier. It’s never-ending, really. I can come up with someone or something to blame for everything bad that has ever happened to me. And, until recently, I never blamed myself for any of it.
That’s right. I never blamed myself.
Hopefully, by now, most of you can see where the quote above fits into my story. I am always complaining about some aspect of my life-the bouncing ball-and blaming the closest person/place/thing, yet, it is always me who drops it. My brother wasn’t smarter than I… I was simply disinterested. My injuries didn’t keep me from exercising when I could no longer run.. I was simply lazy. The economy isn’t keeping me from getting a better paying job– I am. Because I’m scared of change. I’m not too fat to be taken seriously in ANYTHING..
well, ok.. maybe I wouldn’t be taken seriously if I attempted to be a swimsuit model for Sports Illustrated… but watch out, I might just want to someday….
So, what I have decided to do, and what I challenge all of you to do, is this: For the next week, write down every negative thought that creeps into my life. Write down what I was doing when it happened… or, when I noticed it was there. Write down how I felt. Write down what it urged me to do– did it make me want to cry? Eat? Sleep? Exercise? Shower? Scream? Write it all down. Write about the shit that’s coming at me from the Shit Fan.
And then I am going to throw it all away.
That’s right. I am going to crumple up those papers and throw them away. I have no need nor want for them in my life anymore. The act of crumpling up our negative thoughts and throwing them in the garbage is therapeutic in that it first forces us to identify what is holding us back, and allows us to create a name for, or a statement about, the negativity and banish it for good.
I have lived in a self-imposed world of negativity for longer than I can remember, and I simply do not wish to do so anymore. So, after I’ve identified, written down, and thrown away those negative things, I will then write down anything and everything positive within my life. For example, I could write one of my negatives as “I do not have a lot of friends, and it makes me sad.” After I’ve thrown that away, I will then write ” The people I choose to has as part of my life are not only my friends–they are my family. I am happy when I am with them, or speaking to them, and often look at pictures of us together and smile, unconsciously, remembering what amazing memories we create together.” I will use these daily lists of positives to remind myself that while I am not perfect– I am perfectly happy with who I am. I’m tired of dropping the ball in my life– and in turn– my children’s lives. I am taking back control of my emotions and my brain, and removing those cold, dark tentacles of negativity.
Will YOU take the challenge to remove yourself from the path of the Shit Fan? How do you think it will impact your lives? Would love to hear!