Insecurity. Self-doubt. JEALOUSY. Anxiety. Resentment. They are all such heavy, negative emotions. At the same time, they are natural, innate, and above all, powerful. They have the ability to overwhelm and take over. They have the power to weigh you down, both literally and figuratively. Personally, I’ve experienced those feelings at different levels throughout my life. And at times they’ve consumed me. And during those times, I just gave in and accepted it: this was part of my personality; part of who I was.
As time passed, I came to realize that is NOT who I am. Maybe it had to do with maturity, life experience, becoming a wife, a mother, I’m not sure. Maybe I just didn’t want to feel insecure and weighed down by heaviness of negativity. So I made a conscious effort NOT let those destructive words describe me anymore.
The most effective step I took was choosing to surround myself with positive people. Positivity is contagious. When enveloped in that energy, it permeates, and you actually become happy by osmosis. Sound corny? Let me tell you a story. One of the first 5Ks I ran, I ran alone. I was feeling super insecure that morning, surrounded by all the “real” runners in their fancy spandex and fluorescent sneakers. I stood to the side in my sweatpants and zip up hoodie. Everyone was so upbeat and chipper that I found it to be annoying. I stood to the side scowling and regretting that I signed up for this stupid run. But then something happened. The air was so full of supportive, electric energy that it was palpable. I couldn’t help but be lifted up and affected by it. Before I reached the one mile mark I was high-fiving strangers, giving thumbs up, and waving like a superstar. You couldn’t wipe the cheesy grin off my face if you tried. And it stuck with me.
Let me tell you another story. I went to school with a girl. She was younger than I was, prettier, thinner, you name it. The guys that used to look at me started looking at her. We dated the same guys. I was jealous of her. However, I couldn’t admit that to myself, so in my mind she became an evil, horrible person. In my mind she became my enemy. Years passed, we both graduated and moved on with our lives. Once in a while I would see her on Facebook (Darn it! She’s still gorgeous!) but to be honest, I didn’t think too much about her anymore. I was busy raising a family and building my career.
About a year ago, she reached out to me. I think it went something like this: “I know we were never the best of friends but….” Well, guess what? Turns out, she’s pretty awesome. We swapped motherhood stories and she even contributed to one of my blog posts. With that one gesture of sending me a quick email, so much negativity was lifted – negativity I didn’t consciously knew still existed. I could feel it. I was lighter. Now when I see her on Facebook, I smile, and think: “Good for her! She’s still gorgeous.” Let me tell you, that’s a much more enjoyable than feeling like a little green monster.
There is a psychological theory known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect, which basically says you are more likely to have positive feelings toward someone if you do a favor for them, even more so than if they did something for you. This is a fascinating concept that I think is extremely accurate in terms of human nature. Let someone go in front of you in line, hold the door for someone, pay a compliment to your co-worker, contribute to a charity, reach out to someone toward whom you once harbored adverse feelings. You will be surprised at what happens to your attitude, your well-being, your soul. You will become lighter. Just try it. You’ll see.