The last week’s events had me thinking a lot about negativity, and how much of it we all have in our lives. It’s hard to ignore the fact that it surrounds us, either in our daily routine or all through our social media. Negativity is something that we’re bombarded with everyday. We deal with it during our morning drive when we listen to people call in, complaining that it’s Monday. We deal with it when we get to work, and it seems like everyone wishes it was still the weekend. When it’s lunchtime, we see it all across our Facebook feed. We live in a society where negativity is just something that we deal with, as though we don’t have any choice in the matter. But we do have a choice. I’m going to share a piece of my past that shows a more serious take on negativity, and what it can do to us.
When I was younger, I didn’t realize the affect that negativity was having on the people around me, or even the affect that it was having on me. I didn’t see how immersed I was in the stupid drama and the pointless arguments with people who actually enjoyed conflicts. I couldn’t comprehend the long-term effects that this type of negative energy could cause, so I just dealt with it. I thought that it was normal, and I adjusted accordingly. But then the negativity took a serious turn when I dated the wrong guy, and I began to take a much deeper look at the person I was, or rather, the person he told me I was.
I dated a guy that was jealous and shallow, and like many do, he surrounded himself with people who were just like him. He was so full of negativity and self-loathing, that I found myself constantly having to reassure him of himself. He was dramatic and erratic, and his anger for even the minor annoyances was shocking. And eventually that hate that he felt for the person he had become turned into a hatred for me. I questioned myself, and what I was worth. Was I an honest person? Was I a good friend? Was I smart? The naturally happy girl that I once was started to dwindle.
Worst of all, I questioned my friends and whether or not they truly cared about me. I wondered why no one stepped forward and said, “Are you okay? Is this situation okay?” I didn’t have the courage to step back from it all, and remind myself of who I was before the negativity got to me. Before this person came into my life and made me question everything.
Until one day I did find that courage.
Everyone reaches their breaking point somewhere along the way. It was like I woke up one day and I was disgusted with the people around me. I couldn’t see them the way I once did; up on a pedestal where they could do know wrong. All I could see was the ugly truth, and as much as I didn’t enjoy it, it gave me courage. But that courage came in the shape of anger, at first. I was so angry. Angry that I had “let this happen”. Angry that I let someone else decide who I was, and what I deserved. Angry that I had been so manipulated.
“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” – Robert Tew
Walking away from the negativity in my life was like coming up for air for the first time in months. A huge weight had been lifted, and I could breathe again. I can’t ever forget that feeling of relief and just pure joy. A few weeks after I left it all behind, Kyle and I went on our very first date, and the following years have become my most cherished love story. But I can’t ignore the fact that so many people are still living in this world of negativity that I was once stuck in.. I understand your pain and how stuck you feel. But the first step to removing this negativity is what determines everything else. Here’s where I started:
Take a moment to reflect
I didn’t realize how bad all of it was until a close friend (one of the many that I had pushed away) asked me one important question. “Is this what you want for the rest of your life?” The answer was no. It horrified me to think that the way I was living my life could turn into forever. It horrified me to think that I would be trapped in my bad relationship, constantly having to defend myself and apologize. It horrified me that I had let it get so far; that I had broken so many promises to myself, and others. And most of all, it horrified me that I could still feel him holding me back.
When I was able to reflect on all of it, I thought about the reasons I stayed. I thought about when it all began, and how I got sucked into this tail spin of negative people and thoughts. I thought about all the fights that I had with him, and his friends. All the times that I was belittled and made to be some kind of villain when he was the one doing wrong. I started to accept that it wasn’t my fault. That I couldn’t have known that this was the outcome. And that brought me to the next step..
Talk it out
Despite what I thought, the friends that I pushed away still cared immensely for me, and were worried. The had questions that they had been waiting to ask for months, but they were too afraid of how I would react. They didn’t want to approach me when he was around because it could entice some kind of fight. It was time for me to be honest with the people who cared about me. So for the first time in months, I said the words out loud. “This is an abusive relationship.” When the words came out, the truth of them stung. And I cried. I had been crying for months but this was different. It was like I walked through a tunnel for miles and I could finally see the end.
For a long time, I just dealt with the issues I was facing. I was in high school, so my immature brain thought, “It’s not like I can make these people disappear.” I knew that in my situation, it was going to be a battle to remove them from my life. I had tried, multiple times. But what I hadn’t tried was just removing myself. It was my choice to be in his life in the first place, and my choice to stay when I did. So now it was time to put my foot down, and get away from all of it. And let me tell you, it was hard. Because abusive people are desperate when they start to lose control. They use manipulation, like the guilt of their own sadness, to pull you back in. And when you’re used to that behavior, and it has become your “norm”, you can’t imagine a life that’s different.
Everyone’s experience with negativity is different. Mine started with the relationship that I was in, and all of the scary situations that tagged along with it. But it ended the day that I walked away. It took months to break free of the ties, and train my brain to think normal again. I had to reestablish what is healthy and what isn’t in a relationship, and I had to learn how to trust someone again. The healing process is almost endless when someone breaks you down that way. I grew into a different person than I was when it all began, and that took some getting used to. But I wasn’t alone anymore. I had found my happiness again, and I started to open up. I went out with friends, and took time to myself when I needed it. I laughed and I smiled and I lived.
Replace the bad with the good
I stopped being the type of person that tolerated negative people, situations, language, etc. I was constantly removing myself from anything that made me feel uncomfortable, because I just wasn’t willing to put up with it anymore. I finally realized that I didn’t have to put up with it. And if you’re facing a similar situation, or you’re just fed up with the negativity, I hope you realize that you don’t have to either. I hope you find yourself again, like I did.
Realize what you deserve
I hope you wake up one day with the strength to walk away from those things that no longer suit you, or make you better. But more than anything, I hope you don’t tell yourself that it’s too late to change things. Because there’s a whole other life waiting for you, on the other side of all this negativity. And you’re not going to get there by accepting less than you deserve.
Are there any negative situations that you learned to walk away from? How do you keep negative people and thoughts from getting to you? Who has helped you the most in this process?