I think a lot of people don’t realise how much other people’s thoughts, actions and emotions affect our own views. January should, by all accounts, be one of the most positive times of the year. A time of new beginnings, fresh starts and hope of a better future.
So why is everybody being so exhaustingly negative?
Last week I wrote a post on how a new year’s resolution should be something that will better your life and make you happy. But we’re only 9 days in, and I’m already emotionally drained by the diet talk and ‘new year, new me’ nonsense. Please don’t misunderstand me; I completely support people who want to lose weight, gain weight, eat healthier or exercise more; I support and embrace any sort of life change that will make you happy. But what I don’t understand is doing something that makes you miserable. It’s tiring to see people post pictures of their supposedly healthy food on social media with comments like ‘Not the ideal lunch but it’ll do’, or pictures of gym equipment with ‘wish I was somewhere else’.
Why are we doing this to ourselves?! That’s not a rhetorical question: I really would like to know the answer, because I just do not understand actively making yourself miserable.
The hardest thing is, when people insist on expressing this negativity all the time, it begins to rub off on those around them. You start to feel like you have to make those changes too, because that’s the only way to be happy, right? Well, all I can say is:
If I could, I’d offer you some limited edition ‘Bullshit-Be-Gone’ spray, that has been scientifically proven to instantly magic away all the negativity in your path. However, regrettably, I’ve yet to discover such a product (though I am optimistic and live in hope for the future). But what I can do is share with you my three-step plan on getting through the next month without falling into a depressive spiral, or biting the head of the next person to utter the words ‘calorie counting’ in my immediate vicinity.
Step 1: Recognition
For me, the first step in avoiding negativity is recognising it. Have you ever played the card game where you have to call ‘Bullshit’ if you think someone is lying? Well, step 1 is pretty similar to that. Over the next month, and beyond, people around you are going to spout ‘facts’ about the changes you have to make if you’re going to be a happier, healthier, and generally better off, person. And, in a process that I have affectionately nicknamed the ‘Bullshit Game’, all you have to do is recognise and call out the crap. Something can only have as much power over you as you allow, so by actively identifying negative thinking, you are one step closer to cutting it out of your life. So the next time some one asks you how many calories are in a carrot, call bullshit* and move on.
*Disclaimer: It is always recommended that the Bullshit Game is played in secret, and not expressed aloud.
Step 2: Separation
Or what I like to call, the Wall of Nope. Once you’ve recognised the negativity, it’s time to put a big-ass wall between yourself and the source of it. This doesn’t necessarily mean cutting people out of your life, or anything so drastic. It just means learning to separate your own thoughts and opinions from those of people around you. For example, if you’re a croc lover, embrace that love, and put a big (preferably metaphorical) wall between your croc-based happiness and the croc-haters.
Step 3: Affirmation
AKA the “I’m fucking great!” stage. This is the one I think people find the hardest, but it is the most important part of avoiding negativity. It’s the easiest thing in the world to look in the mirror and pick out your so-called ‘flaws’, or get angry at yourself because you’re not as good at something as some one else is. But it’s a hell of a lot harder to remind yourself of your own worth. We are all individual, with different abilities, strengths and weaknesses, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Remember that it’s okay not to follow the trend. Learn that it is okay to be yourself, and that just because someone is telling you that you’ll be happier if you change the way you dress or trim your beard, doesn’t mean it’s true. Look at yourself in the mirror and say ‘I am enough’. Tell yourself something great about yourself everyday, until the message starts to stick.
As hard as it is, try not to get angry at people who are causing negativity. For some, the ‘new year, new me’ thing really is about making positive changes in their life, and that’s fantastic! People are so conditioned to think badly of themselves, that those few who are thinking negatively probably don’t even realise they are doing it. Everyone has their own path, their own journey to tread. So focus on your own happiness, and act as a beacon of positive thinking in this bleak world of ‘ideal bodies’, fad diets and Weight Watcher’s ready meals.