This weekend I had what I can only describe as some completely bizarre and random things come into my inbox. They left me shaking my head.
What to do when you find yourself the recipient of bile?
Thanks to my friend Fredrik for sharing this image with me…
The sending of online negative messages is nothing new. There are lots of high profile cases of trolls, lots of articles on the subject, and I have also experienced online shenanigans, albeit of a much lesser scale. The negativity I have experienced has mostly surfaced via an occasional email or blog comment which I quickly put into the “what the hell is that about” category.
Back in the autum of 2010 I decided to try to minimise the negative in my life, particularly the negative that I invite into my life.
I learned some things about “life on the internet” pretty quickly – like when you hit the unfollow button some people feel offended.
I also learned that when people read something, they put it into their own personal context, implying their own meaning, and it is very easy for words to be imagined into a story which simply did not happen.
My friend Elna shared with me that communication is about 80% meaning that we imply, not the meaning intended by the writer or speaker. Our own context, the stories we create, these cause us to respond to what we read – either with empathy, or with offense. It is down to the context and situation we are in, not necessarily the same as what was written or intended.
When I learned this I became more aware about how I read and react to things, how I imply my own meaning into words. This has helped me to have more balanced reactions. This has also made me focus more on my own word choice when I write, when I speak. When I post here, I try very hard to write clearly, to express my thoughts in a way that conveys what I want – be it a logical argument, or an emotional plea. And all the while I know that I cannot influence what others take away from my writing.
I have double downed on my commitment to eliminate the negativity in my life. When I read something and it makes me feel negative, I know this drains energy from me. Negativity distracts me from the focus I need at work, from the focus on my health and well being that I need to manage two chronic conditions.
My friend Virginia shared this with me…
I choose to make my life a no negativity zone. And I encourage others I know to do the same – surround yourself with people, words, objects, images that are what you aspire to be. I surround myself with positive people, with things that make me smile – because that is what I aspire to be too.
But even though I strive to find peace from within and from what I surround myself with, there will always be those who seek to impose their negativity. What to do in this situation?
My sister reminded me of what to do this past weekend:
“Don’t let negative people live rent free in your head.”
I know that I can’t control what people do – if someone wants to create a fantasy tale to help them to justify actions they take or the situation they find themselves in, they will. What I can control is my own reaction. And I can control how much I hold onto negative feelings, and how quickly I move along.
The past few days I received negative, read it, and decided: I do not need this in my life. My secondary thought? “I feel sorry for the person who is sending me this.”
I chose not to get upset by the attack, but to look at it and smile. To melt the negative with a positive response. And to move along.
My sister sent me this photo, which is of a t-shirt. I now REALLY want this t-shirt!!
There will always be negative in the world – we can choose how we respond to it.
We can eliminate our negative triggers. For example, we can choose to read what keeps us in a positive frame of mind – unfollow people in our tweetstream that make us want to argue in 140 characters, read newspapers that do not cause us to shake our heads and get elevated blood pressure.
When we get negative comments or emails, we can either get upset or we can laugh. Rather than blowing up and getting defensive or crying about injustice, we laugh at the crazy that surrounds us.
We can be the crayon.
Be the crayon? By this I mean we can choose to laugh. Surround ourselves with what we aspire to be. We can focus on our own lives, our own true actions, rather than the injustice we perceive or the stories we imagine from the words we read. We can step away from the internet and out of our own heads, and go outside to breathe fresh air. We can surround ourselves with family and friends who lift us up and make us feel supported and good about ourselves. We can live the life we WANT to have, TODAY – why wait for tomorrow to start to embrace positivity and eliminate the negative?!
Be the crayon, and have a great week.
Back in 2011 I wrote about how I try to be aware of my own reactions to a situation to make sure that I do not find myself in a negative frame of mind. In the two years since that post, I can share that I have not mastered living in positivity, but I do try to do my best each and every day. I try to be what I want to see in the world – but I am not without fault. What matters to me is that I try, and that I try to keep things in balance and perspective. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have opinions, that I bury my thoughts to live a non-confrontational life. On the contrary – I share my beliefs freely and openly, but I realise that my convictions may offend some people and I accept responsibility when I do this. If my stance on something has offended you, please bring it up with me directly so that I can right a wrong (if I can) or help you to understand my thinking. We need support from others to be the best we can be, and I am open to listening, to improving, and to constructive criticism. I’m just not open to lies, imagined truths, or pure negativity.
I forget where I came across this thought process but it stuck and I have applied it to myself and to the comments I read/hear.
Realize where it came from.
Meaning that if somebody says something negative to you or about you it is most likely from a reflection on themselves and not necessarily you. The opposite is true. Before I make a comment that is counter to the person I am speaking with I think about whether or not this is a reflection of my current circumstance.
It has really helped me to think before I speak and counter.