“I do believe we’re all connected. I do believe in positive energy. I do believe in the power of prayer. I do believe in putting good out into the world. And I believe in taking care of each other.” – Harvey Feirstein, award-winning actor and playwright
The unpredictability of life often results in volatile emotions. We all experience these emotional ups and downs as our lives unfold; most times leaving these emotions unchecked. Our argument is that it doesn’t have to be this way. While external circumstances are often random and mysterious, our internal processing of these circumstances needn’t be.
If our ability to handle difficult situations is underdeveloped, we risk creating a negative outlook by default. This is certainly a problem since negativity manifests itself as stress. When stress is a constant presence we put ourselves at risk – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Instead, you can choose to be proactive in counteracting stress. You do this by understanding what thoughts and behaviors cause negative energy to proliferate. In choosing to abandon the behaviors that encourage negative energy, you allow for positive energy to occupy its place.
By simply choosing to observe your negative thoughts with detachment instead of curiosity, you greatly reduce or eliminate their effects. You must always remember that negative thoughts are not an extension of who you are…they are just thoughts. In essence, these thoughts are the brain’s problem, not yours. Don’t allow negative thoughts to influence your behavior.
Here are 8 behaviors that block positive energy (and how you can avoid them.)
1. Allowing ‘success’ to dictate your life
The fact is that most people desire to be successful. In and of itself, desiring success is not a negative behavior. In fact, it’s perfectly normal. It’s the obsessive preoccupation with success to direct and command your life that is unhealthy. There are millions of ‘successful’, yet miserable people that live among us. People with plenty of money, good looks, beautiful spouse, power, etc. They should be living the dream, right? Wrong.
This is because allowing society to influence what ‘success’ means is toxic. Unfortunately, our society is very (very) materialistic and consumer-based. As a result, society’s definition of success is often based on the balance in your bank account, the car in your driveway, and the home that you live in. Per this definition, there is no uniqueness or individuality on what ‘success’ is. Hence, why so many ‘successful’ people are quite miserable.
It’s time to re-define success
Only you can define what success truly is – not society, your parents, your spouse or anyone else. When you learn what success means to you, resolve to achieve it without any outside influences.
2. Preoccupation with vanity or self-image
Do you know who Joan Rivers is? For those who do not, she was an incredibly talented and smart comedian. She gave generously and was active in her community. She was also famously known for obsessing about her appearance, undergoing about 739 plastic surgery procedures. She continued these procedures until her death at age 81. What causes someone to do this?
Again, society has influenced the definition of what beauty is – toned bodies, expensive makeup and clothes, makeovers, hairstyles, etc. As a result, people (especially young women) are increasingly susceptible to these harmful influences. We see this in disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and others – leading to depression, and sometimes suicide.
Trying to earn acceptance and enhance self-image by adhering to society’s definition of beauty often results in emptiness. True beauty is found in your heart, mind and soul. What you do for others. How you treat strangers. What you give of yourself.
Recognize and love your own beauty.
3. Stress addiction
Yes, you can be addicted to stress. This happens when you’re stressed to a point where it becomes hardwired into your brain…not good.
The physiological repercussions of constant stress: high blood pressure, increased heart rate, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and numerous others. Health problems that result from stress: heart disease, asthma, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, accelerated aging, premature death.
Stress addictions don’t result from external circumstances. Only your internalization of stress can cause problems. The solution is mindfulness; being present; deep breathing; meditation; exercise. Also, remember to witness and observe your stressful thoughts as being fleeting, while refusing to engage them. Just let them fade away.
4. Worrying about the trivial trials of life
Running 5 minutes late, forgetting your cell phone, getting cutoff in traffic, being interrupted at work; being nagged…yes, all of these are annoying, but are any of these big issues? Not really. Yet, many of us allow these to completely derail our mood. One minute we are doing just fine, and then someone comes along and does something that causes our blood to boil.
It is okay to become irritated immediately after some small, unpleasant event. It is not okay to continually replay this event in your mind and cause undue stress and anxiety. This is the epitome of dramatic overreaction.
Don’t make mountains out of molehills. Simply allow the thoughts to fade away without becoming trapped in a negative mindset. “Don’t sweat the small stuff” is a nice, simple quote to commit to memory.
5. Living in the past
Regardless of the number or severity of the mistakes that have been made, today is a new day. It is impossible to enjoy the present moment when your brain continuously replays the past.
When we live in the past, we are essentially conditioning our brain to expect the worst. Your brain becomes wired in a way that is counterproductive to your present and future. You may even begin to feel victimized and burdened as a result.
It’s easy to say “just forget it and move on” but sometimes it isn’t that simple. Some of us have experienced trauma that has made it difficult to progress in life. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Consider learning about and committing to mindfulness meditation, a practice that has been researched and proven to foster acceptance and assist with the healing process.
Possessiveness is telltale sign of insecurity and fear. Whether it’s conditioning your partner, children, or loved ones to become too dependent on your acceptance, it’s harmful for both them and you. Possessiveness breeds other problems as well – anger, sadness, anxiety, and loneliness – all of which compromise our sense of peace and understanding.
Often times, being possessive brings the exact opposite result – loss. Loss or disconnection from the ones you love, simply because you didn’t allow them to enjoy the freedom of having their own experiences. Obviously, we want to protect the people that we love and care for, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to constantly monitor their every move.
Remember that everyone needs space and freedom to make their own choices. Embrace the fact that somewhat distancing yourself is beneficial and will ultimately strengthen the relationships that you have with others. Be accepting and open to change as it comes to both you and the ones you love.
7. Not forgiving others
Some of us hold onto grudges for a long time. The problem is that unrelenting bitterness leads to angry emotions and disrupts your positive energy. This often makes it difficult to manage emotions or establish new, healthy relationships.
As with living in the past, some of you have experienced tremendous pain because someone betrayed your trust. Whether it was a parent, spouse, sibling, close friend or someone else, disloyalty can be very hurtful.
Remember that forgiving someone is as much, if not more, about you than it is about them.
Learning to let go allows you to embrace feelings of gratitude, hope, joy, and peace. While what that person did may continue to hurt, forgiveness can lessen the emotional and psychological impact. Forgiveness does not justify or excuse what the person did…it just allows you to make peace with it.
8. Judging others
Sometimes we think we know a person simply by looking at them. Perhaps you even talk to them on occasion while harboring some judgmental thoughts. As you’ll see, judging others is either a normal response or a harmful one.
Judging people is something that all of us do – there is likely a biological or evolutionary reason behind it. Understand that not all judging of people is harmful or counterproductive. It’s normal to observe and evaluate those around us. Judgment becomes harmful when certain thoughts or feelings cause us to resent or admonish the individual.
When negative judgment occurs, you often feel hostile or dismissive of someone. When you begin feeling this way, it is important to recognize the path you’re going down. Instead of reprimanding or becoming angry at yourself, ask:
– Why am I judging them?
– Do I really know what they’re going through?
– Can I practice some kind of empathy in this situation?
– Do I really understand how they think and behave?
– Is there something positive such as a smile, quick “hello” or something else that may help?