Psychological Loofah

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One of the things that I have finally figured out, after years and years of completely going about things in the wrong way, is that we all need people in our lives that add to it. Now, by adding I do not mean adding drama, or financial drain, or stress, or emotional turmoil. I mean that everyone needs people in their lives who add something positive to it.

Sometimes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they add anything. It may be that they take things away. They remove negativity. They remove stress. They remove the dark, nasty cloud that hangs over the head.

During the course of day to day living, most people tend to build up what might be considered a film of nasty, grimy unpleasantness that is picked up from the world. It isn’t that the world is a completely horrible place, but going about the activities of work and interacting with humanity at large generally opens us up to things that are not always pleasant. This might be project deadlines, rush hour traffic, the weather, the bad mood of some other person who has surpassed their aggregate limit of @#$%s to give, or it could just be that we woke up on the wrong side of the bed and things went downhill from there.

In the modern age, we also have a smorgasbord of media that bombards us with negativity. It seems that our “news” agencies flood the ether with the most flamboyantly negative crap they can dig up. Have you ever noticed that a good many of the “reporters” out there can take even the most positive instance imaginable and spin it into horror story? I know. Good vibes don’t sell ads and airtime, but still, it just takes a special kind of miserable to conjure up some ugly for every ray of sunshine. I guess they are crying all the way to the bank, but it just seems an unpleasant way to make a living.

In truth, it doesn’t really have to be the network media, either. Social media rarely goes viral with positives. It’s the negative stuff that usually “breaks the internet.” Fear and anger seem to win the game. And… that’s sad. Truly. Even knowing why it is so doesn’t really help. It is just a sad statement about humanity that we are so focused on the negative. Unfortunately, it isn’t just electronics in our lives, either.

Think about it… you know there are people actually in your life right now that do it, too. You can probably think of at least one person that you interact with on a semi-regular basis that can suck all the air out of a room and turn a good mood into a full blown depression without flexing a muscle. It is like there is an entire species of Grumpy Smurf (for those old enough to remember) who hate everything and who can never let a positive comment live without taking a swipe. As it happens, I have been known to test out this theory. It happened the first time quite by accident, but the person in question was so very negative I attempted to find something positive to bring into the conversation. It wasn’t contrariness on my part (No, really. It wasn’t). It was more a deliberate attempt to cheer us both. I found that I was unequal to the task. It didn’t matter what I said, they could turn it around into something just heartbreaking. Eventually, I just felt frustrated and depressed. However, I now approach it almost as a game. I will say things that are deliberately upbeat and positive just to see how they are going to spin it into the toilet.

In the unseasonably rainy weather we have been having, a brief glimpse of sun was visible. I noted to Grumpy Smurf, “Man, it is nice to see the sunshine again, even if it is just a little while.” The response was classic, “*hmmph* Yeah, it’ll probably just be miserably humid or turn into another drought.” I just have to laugh at these moments.

Knowing the person’s history, I can almost theorize why some people feel compelled to discredit positivity. Sometimes it is an “Expect the worst and take what you get” mindset. If you plan for bad stuff, then you can’t get caught by surprise and maybe you won’t be as devastated by disappointment. The problem with this mindset is that while preparing for the worst, those individuals never seem to get to enjoy the best. All their energy is spent in discounting and looking for the dark cloud around those patches of silver lining. It’s a shame, really.

Another theory is that people who feel the need for the negative spin are playing into “the other shoe” phenomenon. “Things are going way to well right now, the law of averages says I’m gonna get creamed when the other shoe drops,” or “What’s the angle? There has to be an angle?” For some people, history has taught them that when things are going really well, something bad follows right behind. So, they never want to feel “too good.” The other side of that coin is similar to the “expect the worst…” folks. They never get to enjoy their lives because they are so busy looking for that other shoe and the angles.

My point to all of that is that most of us have at least one, usually more of those types with whom we interact every day. Aside from those, there are just the usual bumps and jostles that make up the plethora of life’s little irritations. All those little, and not so little, things contribute to a miasma that builds up on the surface of our personalities like a scum on a pond or mineral scale on the shower walls. We may not even notice that we are carrying it all around with us, bogging us down, making us less shiny. Before we realize what has happened, we’ve got second skin of all that negativity making us one of THEM.

This is why we need the psychological loofah in our lives. Sometimes this is something. Sometimes this is someone. I’m lucky. It’s taken me a while to recognize them for what they are, but I have psychological loofahs and scrubs and chemical peels in my life… I am a psychologist, you know. I build up a lot of that film. For me, there are a number of activities that help me reset and get away from the negatives. Some are daily. Some are weekly. Some are monthly, and some are once a year. The point is that they have become part of my regular regimen to keep that negativity film at a minimum and keep me from being the negative ugliness in someone else’s life. Last but certainly not least, I have the people that are my positive refilling sources. I have been extremely fortunate to have some people in my life who are positive and upbeat (sometimes even when they haven’t had the greatest day on their end either). One in particular always starts the day with a post on social media that says “Be blessed today, sugas!” Usually it is some variation of that. She isn’t Pollyanna, and she has her own struggles, but she tries to contribute positively to the world rather than contributing to what is already an oversupply of negative. I recently told her that her posts are my daily reminder to be more positive than I may feel each day. I’m not sure how she felt about that exactly, but it was true.

My positive friend, her partner, and a few others are people in my life who are a joy to be around balance out the people in my day to day that may be … not so much… I want to be one of those positive people for my friends and loved ones, too. I know that I am not always, but I certainly try. I know that to be healthy physically and emotionally, I need to practice a little mental hygiene. That includes physical exercise, meditation, music, reading good books, laughing out loud at least once a day, and interacting with the people in my life that bring their joy to share with me. I also know that with my psychological loofahs, I stand a much better chance of being what people I care about need instead of contributing to the negative film.

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