I have always been a fairly happy person. Not that I haven't had my fair share of times when I was sad, mind you, but I don't like the idea of staying unhappy for very long. Many years ago, I realized my analogy to "staying sad" was hanging out in a pile of poop for an extended period of time. I could wallow around in my own poo, but that just doesn't seem to be very appealing, does it? So, what is the solution if I feel myself getting dragged into negativity, sad happenings in the world or toxic people? GET OUT of the POOP PIT!
What does this mean, exactly?
1. Realize that I have a choice--Even when I feel like I am surrounded by negativity or sadness (actually, especially when I am surrounded by negativity or sadness), I have to remember a little chant I made up for the kids at the elementary school in Florida where I was principal for 7 years. It goes like this:
"I always have a choice, no matter what I do.
I make the choice, and I can't blame you."
When we talked about making choices, I would have the kids chant this with me in lots of different ways: like a tiny little mouse (cue the high-pitched voice that sends dogs into orbit); like a BIG FAT WHALE in the ocean (insert your best deep, booming voice); like you have a drawling Southern accent; like a cheerleader (after each phrase, shake your imaginary pom-poms and yell "Yea!" --- this is guaranteed to annoy anyone who already thinks you are too peppy!), and on and on it goes. The kids LOVED it! And, truth be told, it was hard to stay grumpy, myself, when chanting this little ditty along with them.
I heard someone say this week, "She made me feel so worthless." I couldn't stand it. I had to suggest, "How might you have contributed to feeling worthless? How is it that you are giving her all that power?" In hindsight, perhaps I should have suggested we repeat together my chant, but then again, perhaps not. I truly believe I teach people, everyday, how to treat me. I make that choice.
2. Move to a positive outlook--If you adhere to my poop pit analogy, who among us would honestly choose to stay in a poop pit? I'm guessing that would be a "negative, Ghostrider" (note my "Top Gun" reference to further remove you from any funk you might currently be in). And yet...isn't that exactly what we do when we choose to reside in negativity? Now, I'm not at all suggesting to avoid crying when a loved one dies (I think crying is one of the best God-given activities in the world---it may not sound appealing, but "try it; you'll like it" is my motto about crying to get some emotions out and about) or when we are experiencing a bit of heartache for whatever reason. What I am suggesting is that remaining in that place is a bit like pressing the pause button while the movie is buffering, then never pressing the "Play" button again to continue. What happens? We never have a chance to see the rest of the movie! In other words, we don't move on! Instead, I would suggest that we pick ourselves out of the poop pit and do the next right thing---whatever that is for you. For me, it involves getting down on my knees and praying; getting my butt in gear to prepare for a new job; going for a jog with the dogs; going to play golf (I use that phrase VERY, VERY loosely, as you might well know) with my sweet hubby, Dave; taking a trip to a climate different from my current one; reading a book in the backyard (sounds luxurious and decadent, doesn't it?) What is it for you to get out of the poop pit?
3. Get out of myself and do something for someone else. For anyone who has ever done a bit of mission work, or anything similar to that, you know the amazing psychological and physiological effects this can have on your psyche. Somehow, God has created us to have some sort of paradoxical feeling---when we do for others, we gain so much in return.
When I feel any of that negativity creeping up on me, what I WANT to do is isolate. Instead, I learned about 20 years ago that isolating is likely the last thing I need to do. Think about it: would I consciously choose to sit in my own poop pit by myself, pining away for what I think I deserve and haven't been given? Eewwwwww! Icky!! Everybody can likely agree that sounds disgusting. And yet...isn't that exactly what we do when we wallow in self-pity, jealousy, anger, or resentment? On the contrary, when I get outside my own self and do something for someone else, I soon forget about my own garbage and realize that the act of helping has increased my endorphins and I actually have a desire to put my poop pit up for sale. We have to, then, DO the opposite of what we FEEL LIKE DOING, and we have to do it until we no longer feel the way we did. Crazy stuff, right?
So, just for today, perhaps think about ways you have the ability within you to remove yourself from the negative real estate in which you might currently reside and move to a new, more positive neighborhood.