Sunday, 26 April 2015

What is in our way, is part of the way

Time and again life repeatedly seems to bring us moments that introduce us to some unseen limitation in our present level of self. For example, in stressful situations, we can keep neither our patience nor our anger under control. Too often, cynical comments spring from our mouth as our defensive way of responding to critical remarks from another person. The trepidation of betrayal colours all our relationships, limiting our capacity to give ourselves honestly and freely to those we could love.

But obstacles and tests are part of life’s journey. In school we are taught a lesson and thereafter given a test. The ironic role reversal as we mature is that we are first given a test which in turn teaches us the lesson. Challenges return repetitively to help us understand that it is imperative to avoid resisting what life is trying to tell us. These hard knocks and lessons are the only way by which we can grasp the real truth about our present level of self. The obstacle will repeat itself, albeit in different mannerisms and forms, up until the time we don’t learn the hard lesson it was meant to teach us. It is only then that we are granted salvation and allowed to move on to experience a higher test.

Trials and turmoil are necessary for evolution and progress. An easy life leads to complacence and dents the human spirit. We discover our strengths in the bosom of our struggles and our victories within our tribulations. Challenges offer us a platform to change, adapt, evolve and become better. Change is discomforting, hardships are distressing, but both are vital.

Over time you will come to realize that the challenges faced by you have translated into your greatest strengths. History is witness to the fact that the truly greatest have suffered an immeasurable amount of ordeals and sufferings, only to emerge stronger than ever before. Ironically it was those very obstacles that helped develop their strength of character, purpose and resolve.

The mark of people’s ignorance is their depth of their belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly. Avoid victimhood. Deplore privileges. Neither are gifts, rather cages to dampen your free spirit. Mountains can crush or raise you, depending on your choice of the journey and which side of the mountain you choose to stand on.

Learn from the oyster. It doesn’t get irritated with or fight off the grains of sand that enter its shell. Instead it focuses on encountering and using these irritants to its advantage to produce the most beautiful priceless pearl. There are numerous irritants and obstacles in everybody’s life ... .the important lesson here is to adapt, adopt and create a flawless pearl.

Adversity is not a detour... it is part of the path. Personally, I am supremely grateful for all the trials, tribulations and tests thrown at me all through life for they made me a wiser, stronger and better person.  I would never have experienced an enriching and purposeful life by trying to run away from or attempting to crush what I imagined stood in my way. I now fully understand that real limitless living results from a higher understanding that ‘what is in our way is part of the way’. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Dump the Toxic Waste

Are you surrounded by colleagues, friends or peers who are toxic? It’s easy to figure out toxic personalities as they aren’t the most vibrant people to be around. Negative personalities can be real downers in any scenario. No matter what you say, they have a way of spinning the conversation in a negative direction. Some negative people can be so downbeat that it feels wearisome just standing around them.

So what’s my definition of a toxic person? Someone who complains and plonks their problems on you but doesn’t do a darn thing to change their situation. Someone who is not supportive of your ideas and actually takes a silent delight at making you feel bad or worried. Someone who shoots down your bright ideas, big goals, or bold (and risky) decisions that you need to make in order to be successful.

There was a time I used to be influenced, perplexed or even dumbfounded by the level of toxicity in certain people. But I look at things very differently today. Toxic people are usually in a place in their life where they are not open to constructive feedback or changing, so they are stuck in their current situation and don’t have the insight to see beyond their own struggles. And that’s okay. To each their own! Our aim is to ensure that we don’t allow their pessimism to impact our life.

So here are a few tips to eliminate your life from toxic personalities:

1. Don’t get into a head on collision with them
Toxic people have extremely strong views and are unwilling to look at the other side of the coin. Whatever you say, they will find numerous arguments to defend their dogged opinion. The dialogue will simply spiral downwards into further negativity, therein sucking you into a vortex of hopelessness and despair. Your task is to offer constructive comments, however, if the person shows no sign of relenting or even listening to your views, don’t engage further. At least you will save yourself of some heartache.

2. Stay with light subjects
Toxic people are aggravated by certain topics. A friend of mine goes into a tangent whenever we talk about his work colleagues. No matter where I veer the topic, he keeps harping and complaining about his co-workers. Our task is to guide such people to a more constructive plane, but if they choose to remain wedged in their gloom, the negativity may be too deep rooted to tackle in a singular conversation. Stick with simple and light topics to elevate their sombre mood. Stay with safe dialogues or topics that you know the person has a hobby or interest in.

3. Identify with negative behaviour
How would you feel is someone told you to chillax when you are really worked up over some issue? Would you really relax or would you get even more aggravated? Empathize with this moment every time you cross paths with a toxic personality. Negative or distressed people benefit a lot more from an empathetic ear than lofty suggestions about what they should feel or do. By identifying with their distress and helping them to address their emotions in a logical manner, the solutions will automatically come to them.

4. Tackling a cry for help
Cribbing, complaining or constantly being negative is simply a cry for help. While they are often not conscious of it, and their dialogues seem as whining complaints rather than a request for assistance, it’s important for us to lend them a helping hand. A simple task of greeting them with a big smile, checking on their work or health, a quick recap of a fun weekend may do wonders for their morale. However if they manoeuvre back into the dark waters of heavy complaining, steer away and back out of the dialogue quickly. After all, nobody asked you to be a martyr to the cause.

5. Ignore the harmful comments
One of the techniques toxic people employ to drag you into their dark depressive world is by throwing casual negative comments in your direction. Don’t get sucked into this ploy. If they pass a nasty observation, ignore or give a curt “I see” or “Ok” reply. On the other hand, if they choose to be upbeat respond in affirmation. Do this often and they will figure out that you are too centred to fall for their gimmicks. Hopefully, they will adjust their behaviour gradually to become more positive personalities. 

6. If all else fails, avoid them
If none of the above tactics work, reduce contact with them or simply avoid them altogether. Negative energy from toxic people impact your energy level, not to mention your stress and anxiety levels. Ultimately, it’s your health and well-being, and you are responsible for taking care of it! If it’s a dear friend, then let them know how their negativity is affecting your life and work it out where possible. It’s not healthy to spend too much time with people who drain you. Your time is precious, so spend it with people who uplift you and have a more positive influence on your life.

Don’t feel guilty about abandoning toxic people even though you may feel like that initially. There is a difference between abandoning someone versus letting them go so they can find their own way. If you have already tried giving them advice, encouragement, or even a wake-up call and nothing happened, then no amount of wise words or intervention from you will change their thinking or behaviour. It’s time to let them go and win back your sanity.