As my life starts to get busier, I’m being far more intentional with how I spend my time, and how the activities in my life alter my mood and perceptions. I’ve recently started swimming because it was a good way to be alone with my thoughts, away from technology and all the physical reminders of the things on my to-do list. Having go-to relaxation techniques is incredibly beneficial for managing stress levels. To maintain balance and variety of my activities, I started going to the park to get some fresh air and do some not-so-subtle people watching. As I observed passers-by, usually travelling in twos, I noticed they all had something in common – They were all gossiping about people they knew.
We are all guilty of venting our opinions, with spilling the Tea being an integral part of social dynamics, however this got me thinking how much of our time do we spend talking about others, and how is this dialect positively or negatively impacting us?
Think back to a time when you had a conversation with someone that uplifted you. The other person probably made you feel good, happy, confident etc. They probably took an interest in something that was important to you, whether it was a new career prospective or something you are passionate about. They may have given you words of encouragement, validation, or helped you to see something from a new perspective.
Now think back to a conversation that left you feeling drained or negative. It likely involved complaining, worry or bitching of some kind. Studies show that negative language actually stimulates the activity centre in our brain responsible for fear – the amygdala; subsequently releasing stress hormones into the body which contribute to ill health and disease. On the other hand, positive language is proven to strengthen our frontal lobes, promoting better cognitive function. What you say is just as important as how you say it.
Often, those with the deepest insecurities can be quick to negatively judge others. This is usually because the thing they dislike about the other person reflects something which they don’t like about themselves. Identifying and working through this refers to shadow work. It’s one of the most important things you can do to improve your relationship with yourself and others (without the assistance of therapy). Insecurities embed themselves in unresolved trauma. Shadow work (although painful at times) allows for the shedding of these beliefs by acknowledging the physical and emotional triggers. By identifying the root cause of them, you’re able to work through the darker parts of your identity which get pushed back into your subconscious.
This act of increasing your awareness will probably bring a lot of things to light. Noticing the quality of the conversations you’re having with others will provide clarity on the relationships which are worth nurturing and which ones may require a little distance for your own sanity. Creating healthy distance from the people who only want to engage in negative conversation is bound to impact how you feel and how you think. If distance is difficult (perhaps this person is a co-worker or family member) then see how you can change the conversation from a negative to a positive topic.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our negativity bubbles that we don’t see how it’s harming us. It’s almost like it becomes part of our routine. By making this change you could positively impact people around you, and they won’t even understand why they feel better around you. They just will. We all love a bit of Tea, but if you’re serving more tea than Twinings and really don’t have anything interesting to say it could be harming you just as much as it harms other people. Don’t default to speaking about others. It’s not nice and it doesn’t say a lot about your character. Equally, be aware of people who always talk about everyone else because they’ll probably have something to say about you too once you’re not in the room.
The smallest changes can make the biggest difference to our everyday lives, whether it’s implementing a new activity or altering the way we converse with others. Being mindful of how you feel, when you feel it, and why you feel it is vital for anyone focusing on growth, happiness, and wholeness. When you feel happy other people pick up on that positive energy and you will begin to attract likeminded people into your life.
I think the negativity and uncertainty we’ve been bombarded with over the past couple of years is enough to throw anyone off balance. We all deserve a little more positivity in our day to day lives and sometimes that change needs to start from within. It needs to start with you. Never underestimate the power you hold to change your surroundings with your mindset and attitude alone.
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