Lifestyle Choices: How To Deal With Constant Negativity
I made a commitment to myself back in November, 2006. Fresh out of an alcohol treatment center and determined to change my life for the better, I actually made several commitments rather than just one. All of those commitments, however, had one thing in common: building a better life for myself, one based on love, compassion, empathy and happiness.
During the years when I was an active alcoholic and even when I wasn’t drinking but was a dry drunk, my life was littered with unhappiness and unhappy people. You see, alcoholism breeds unhappiness and discontent, so day after day, month after month, year after year I would wallow in a self-constructed world of unhappiness, one that was self-perpetuating and perfectly crafted to guarantee many more years of unhappiness.
When I made the commitment to sobriety it became very apparent that I needed to change practically everything about me and my environment and that meant the people in my environment if they were part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
Make no mistake about it: this was a conscious decision that I made and I set about implementing my decision with a singular purpose. Tunnel vision would aptly describe how I went about this new lifestyle but please remember that to fall back to the old ways most certainly meant death for me.
So what did this new lifestyle look like?
SMILE BE HAPPY
My new mantra, life is good, had no room for self-constructed unhappiness, nor did it have room for the continual negativity from others. I began the business of weeding out the negativity and negative people and replacing it all with positive influences and positive people. Simple in the stating of purpose but not nearly as easy in the implementation; you see, eliminating people from my life is not something I enjoy doing, even when I consider them to be toxic. Let me give you an example.
Mary is one of my recent rejections. I met her a little over three years ago and formed a friendship and a bond. We had many similarities, both wanted sobriety and a bond formed. We shared with each other, laughed and cried with each other and built from the ground up what I believed was going to be a life-long friendship.
I tried to help Mary whenever she needed it because that’s what friends do, right? I listened to her seemingly endless supply of problems, helped whenever I could in any way that I could and genuinely tried my best to be the type of friend I had always wanted to be but was unable to be because of alcohol.
As the friendship grew I began to notice that when I would see Mary my mood changed; I could be having the greatest day and then a dark cloud would fall over me when Mary called or visited. I tried to ignore it in the name of friendship but eventually it became impossible to deny the fact that Mary was toxic and was taking no steps towards changing herself or her situation.
Finally, a year ago, I called Mary and explained that I would always care for her as a person but I was unable to remain an active friend and yes, I told her why. You see my happiness, upon which my sobriety depends, was much too important to me to risk on someone who was not willing to change.
I no longer see Mary or talk to her; her negative energy needed to leave my life.
Richard gained sobriety just about the time I did after a brief relapse in 2002; he subsequently relapsed just about the time I did in 2005 and again sobered up in 2006. We had been good friends, both working to change our lives and we spent many an hour together watching ball games and fighting the good fight.
After the last relapse in 2006 I vowed to practice the program of Alcoholics Anonymous which meant to practice the steps and traditions and change my life. Rich did not! Subsequently, while my life changed as did my outlook on life, Rich is now just a sober drunk with all of the old tendencies and negative thinking.
Rich and I are no longer friends. I will not surround myself with negative people spouting negativity. Life is much too short for me to return to that kind of life.
One of the first things my sponsor did for me in 2006 was give me a passage to read from the AA approved book “Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.” At the end of Chapter One there is a line that talks about hitting bottom….and here I am going to paraphrase….and our willingness to listen as only the dying will have. That line perfectly describes my feelings towards negativity. For my survival I need to construct a positive world to live in and once constructed surround myself with positive people.
This is a difficult decision but one I take quite seriously because we are talking about my survival. I will not include in my world negative people. It is my belief that negative people attract other negative people so those I choose to eliminate from my life will have no problem finding someone else to be negative with. You see, my first responsibility is to me and my happiness, and I take that responsibility as though my life depended upon it...because it does.
IN ALL ASPECTS OF MY LIFE
If I receive poor customer service at a store, what I consider to be negativity, I will not shop at that store again. If I have a customer who is negative I severe business connections with that person. If I have acquaintances who are a negative influence I cut ties with them.
Today life is good. I treat others in a positive manner and expect the same in return; if it is not given then so be it; have a nice life and don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out of my life. These actions of mine may seem harsh to some and that is perfectly fine with me. I do not make any attempt to tell others how to live their lives and I expect the same in return. I know what works for me and that is all that is important.
One of the most positive things I have ever done in my life was begin a relationship with Bev. She is the most positive human being I have ever met and I plan on keeping her in my life until I breathe my last breath. I hope all of you have a Bev in your life so that you can smile at life’s little pleasures and have a partner with whom you can dance in the rain.
There is an old accounting term that perfectly describes the person I do not want in my life. The acronym is GIGO and it stands for Garbage In Garbage Out. In other words, if all you think about is negativity then all you will produce in your actions and words is negativity. I think I will coin my own acronym, one that will shine a light to guide my path for years to come. I will call it PIPO!
Positive In Positive Out! Have a wonderful life, all of you, and above all else, do all things with love.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
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