Naysayers: How to handle negative influences in our life

Now, hang on, before you all lynch me for addressing what you might think is an obvious answer, there are plenty of reasons “Just cutting them out” isn’t the easiest option, or even viable.

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I always worry that I won’t have enough things to talk about here, but topics seem to not only drop into my lap – they actually contribute to a unifying theme over a few days, giving me ample time and ammunition to construct a pretty cohesive post: as well as allowing me the time for my pertinent perspective to congeal quite nicely.

That said, I had a conversation with a wonderful new friend yesterday on this very topic, then this morning had a relevant online chat with someone who’d fall quite nicely into the “naysayer” category… So since I’ve had a couple days to think about this, let’s define where we stand.

For me, a naysayer is, at their core, someone who dwells in the negative during any interaction I have with them. This allows room for those who either cannot stop thinking about how dissatisfied they are with their own lives, but also those who feel the need to judge me on how I lead mine. Don’t get me wrong, friends who are blunt with me and expose me to see some of my own “less than desirable” habits or behaviors are immensely helpful: as long as their perspective and advice comes from a trusted and loving place! Instead I refer to those who only speak ill, as if their way of seeing a situation is the only way that’s acceptable.

You’re going to laugh now, because the advice is, obviously, simple. You need to reduce or eliminate these interactions, and how you choose to do so is where the intricacies lie.

So if they’re an acquaintance and there’s no “love lost” between you, telling them to get bent or get stuffed (choose whatever colloquialism matches your country of origin or abode) is short and simple. Depending on how you interact, you can end your relationship in one of two ways. If you only chat in the virtual sphere, either ignoring their messages or blocking them from your lists is a great non-confrontational technique. This is similar to receiving unwanted advances from someone on a dating website: ignoring/not replying to a message has the same effect as responding to them telling them you aren’t interested, while sidestepping your actual reasoning.. It lets them form their own reason, versus you having to uncomfortably tell them that you aren’t attracted to them, or something they might find equally insulting. Skipping that whole interaction is often easiest, especially if you haven’t studied conflict resolution.. Inevitably if you give your real reasoning, a counter message will follow. Be prepared!

What if they are a close friend, or a family member? The former can be treated as above, but with an even softer, cuddlier variant of kid gloves. If it’s family, and breaking all ties is (usually) not an option, honesty of some variety is the only recourse if you want to change the dynamic. I’ll link the “Aikido in Everyday Life” book again here, please ignore the poor Google reviews: while some of the situations and names used as examples show the age of this “manual”, the techniques are not only still sound, but incredibly efficient in their effectiveness. Basically, knowing how to present your feelings and standpoint on how the other person makes you feel doesn’t have to be communicated in a way where there’s a clear “winner” and “loser” in each conversation. The book does a far better way of describing these techniques than I do, and I won’t try to do them any justice in replicating them here. Even if this particular post doesn’t apply to you, the book is still a wonderful read for anyone who deals with potential verbal conflict in their lives. Aka, everyone!

In my situation, as far as the old friend I chatted with this morning, it was far easier to just choose to cease initiating or responding to attempts at conversations. Not that it’s easy – in fact, it’s a little painful, but it’s less hurtful to both parties with this particular flavor of history that I’d rather not dredge up or revisit that time in my life: I’ve made such vehement, severe efforts to leave it far behind and move on, whereas that circle that I have extricated myself from (in my perspective) hasn’t grown in the direction that has become pillars supporting the strongest core principles in my life. I won’t say that I haven’t tried to make our tentative friendship work over the last few tumultuous years, but each time we conversed, old behaviors surfaced on both sides, perhaps out of previous paradigms of comfort. Once we’d part ways, I’d head home and “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” would pervade my mental headspace, often for days, as I’d try to process and eliminate these previous past thoughts from my thoughts. No more. It’s far healthier for me to move on alone in this situation, and only wish the best for this old friend.. I wish him well and hope that he’s able to wade through the waters to the comfort of personal resolution on his own.

Video discussion below:

Cluttered Space / Cluttered Mind

I’ve been bad with the whole regularity thing in my past, and I still struggle daily with the process. When I had a full time job working for the man, despite my general malaise, at least I had a structure that was imposed upon me, and I could fit the rest of my own life within the crack, making a nice comfortable padding.

Now that I am responsible for everything,  it is only more important that I prioritize a routine that extols healthy habits: physical, mental and psychological are equally essential. That healthy mindspace has its root in the physical realm: comfort and familiarity are bred from a well organized living and working environment.

The apartment in which I call home (and my office) was an emergency choice – I needed to get out of my previous unhealthy space, and did not have much time to search.. It’s pretty awesome, but way too big, and way too expensive for me as a longer term solution.  I think I’ve moved every couple years for the last decade: comfort in my inhabited space often seems to elude me.. whether I convince myself that I need a room mate, or to live on my own.. this basement is too dark, or this other apartment is too big.. Excuses are everywhere..

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I’ve always found myself attracted to smaller multi-use spaces.. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been on my own for the better part of the last decade, but my space is very much my own, and how I inhabit/am comfortable in it rarely involves making it somewhere that’s ideal to share with a friend or for general socialization… I find that the more space I have available, the more I will find things to fill it up.. The older I get, the less “knick knacks” I own.. But the cleaner my space, the less non-essentials I have “cluttering” my space, then the more relaxed I feel.. If I forget where I put my keys, and they aren’t in their “home”, the less surfaces I have, and the less things those surfaces are adorned with, the easier it is to find them.

The image below is a bit amusing to me, as it details how to declutter one’s life.. yet the graphic itself is a mess, a veritable tangled maze of color, suggestions, and ideas.. Yet it does have plenty of merit. Part of organizational habit is making sure to take decisive permanent action every day to create a space and a system that works for you and your unique needs/situation; the other part is ensuring to divest time every day to keeping your space clean.. Sweeping for 10 minutes a day, washing dishes as they are used.. Not putting anything off. Decluttering is as much about avoiding adding new chaos as it is about stripping existing anomalies away!