Negativity and Toxicity 

Before I knew the dangers of negativity, I unknowingly spent time in its home. I’m no stranger to its damaging attitude. “I might mess up, what if I mess up,” I thought. I was a slave of today because my thoughts were captured by tomorrow’s worries; that made me negative and critical on myself whenever I did anything wrong. You should know that pessimism is close to the anxious ones. Looking at me from the outside, you would think I was a good boy; I followed the rules but the negativity on the inside that I was carrying pushed me back. What really caused my anxiety was guilt and “what if this happened.” I self condemned myself. This made me worry more…”What if this happens,” is like fire that grew bigger and bigger in my thoughts. This makes a person so afraid of the future — It’s fear. I worried so much. The worry turned into panic attacks. I remember that even as I would be having a good time with friends, I would suddenly begin to think negative — making me feel isolated and alone. That’s the type of toxicity I found myself battling, and It took some uncomfortable situations to break some limitations I placed on myself. God has a way showing us what he placed in us, if we allow Him into our hearts. When we become new creations in Christ, our thinking  changes. The scriptures clearly do not support negativity, and at the same time, the Word of God goes beyond positivity, it is life to us. As we get to know ourselves in Christ through scripture — our minds get renewed; that’s been the case for me. I now see things different, not as I once did. From the commonly quoted John 3 verse 16 — there is love spoken of which is the basis for Jesus’ death on the cross. The love that has kept persecuted men going despite the stones thrown at them. It is the love that has given many people who once felt hopeless many reasons to keep going. Does such a love promote hate, bitterness, negativity, worry or self-loathing? The critical ways we look at ourselves make us believe in lies like “because I do not look like this, I am less, because I failed to do this, I am less.” Not even God will allow you to practice self-hate because he says different about you. It is the enemy who wants you to be tormented and oppressed. Love does not  promote cynicism. Cynicism in this case referring to a negative, pessimistic and distrustful attitude. It’s what I call trying to find a fault in everything. Fault finding is a result of being judgemental. 

Even now I do know that a person can cripple my optimism with the words they say to me. I do not only shield myself by the determination to stay positive, but I also counter negativity with what God says about us all. There are times when we feel we are not good enough only because somebody said something negative about us, then the moments when we are alone, we use that against ourselves. We drown in a sea of those thoughts at night. We can whisper prayers to Him during those times. There will be times we will encounter toxicity; when we do, we must know how to handle it. The times we are vulnerable reveal to us that we need to cling to something or someone. We ultimately have two choices to pick from, the temporary solutions the world throws at us or the eternal solution, Jesus. It is something I have to remember in my low moments when despair fights to keep me. No man or woman is invincible; my brokenness reminds me that I need God. 

Negativity is something that can affect the rest of our day and mood if we let it. It is closely related to pessimism — which is an enemy of optimism. Pessimism is the belief that tomorrow has nothing good to offer; it is worry that sucks the joy and peace out of a person, holding a person back from all kinds of pursuits. The news makes us timid. There is so much going on in the world right now. Here — I’m referring to real life situations when you come across people who are rude to you — when a person who clearly does not know you passes ill remarks about you, and with the freedom we have on the internet today, people write all kinds of things that can pretty much shatter hearts with fingers that do not even physically reach hearts. The smartphone is a powerful tool, and every tool can either be used constructively or destructively.

It hurts more when we receive negativity from those closest to our hearts (family and friends). We search for clarity as we wonder if they care. Toxicity resides in toxic atmospheres. Toxic atmospheres influence minds and hearts with the consent of the people. It is not by accident; we have the choice of choosing how to respond, when the emotions are high or after you cool down. So let’s say you are having a bad day which makes you wish peace would swallow you instead. The unexpected happens only to leave you with an emotional wound, I know we can justify statements like “This is why I hate Mondays,” or “bad things always happen to me, why me!” And yet if we take a good close look at ourselves we see a fully functioning heart that is pumping blood to all parts of the body; everything seems fine. We had a good healthy breakfast meal that left us satisfied. Our lungs are fully operational. We have faithful friends.

So then what makes us miserable and negative? An ungrateful heart nags. The mind is trained to think the way we make it think; the moments we find ourselves thinking about something as though the mind was on auto-pilot. This may seem unusual but when left alone, the mind can wander off. The mind is like your personal microscope; you focus on something, you lose sight of what’s around you. You focus on the little bad, you lose sight of the whole lot of good around you. It’s so clear why scripture tell us to renew our minds.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

Can a bitter heart serve God whole heartedly? 

Have we given negativity the rights to govern how we live? 

Should a setback hold us back from doing anything productive in the space of 24 hours?

I know people who have gone through some of the worst pains and hurts you can ever imagine but if you look at them now, you would get to see this peace in them. They look purposeful. You will find that these people are still optimistic despite everything around them. Do they have a secret?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philipians 4:6-7).

Ever met people who were so negative, that they showed bitterness towards everyone and everything? These people need your prayers. You might not know how they got to that point but remember that you can always help. Did you fail at something? How about giving it another shot!

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad (Proverbs 12:25)

When you speak negatively, you are inviting negativity. Words spoken over your life can very well become your reality — propelling you to the seed sown by your tongue and mindset. We may feel broken, we have our weaknesses but neither our weaknesses nor brokenness defines us. Our shortcomings are a reminder of placing our trust in something more than us; that God will walk with us as in this race. God will help us as we limp. Should we be gloomy because somebody has failed to see our worth? Avoid living off of people’s opinions. You may be feeling a certain way at the moment but remember that feelings are fleeting; feelings change. That is why I cannot reduce hope to a feeling; I refer to hope as a decision. 

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