Friday, July 14

Signs We Are Toxic 7/14/17

    Many of us strug-gle as we hurdle through major is-sues. We experience conflict. We try to find ways to over-come them.

      A pattern emerges, however, that, when present, halts progress.  We refuse to acknowl-edge our contribution
to a problem. When this happens it can be difficult finding resolution.

      We all struggle with being negative from time-to-time.  It's a part of life.  But we can fall into toxic behavior that prevents our life from thriving, from being authentic----revealing the best of who we are.

     One of the toughest challenges is identifying the signs that surface when we are toxic.  We lack discernment about ourselves.  (See here.)  It can be painful admitting we often create the very hardships we bewail. 

     Frequently they are the result of holding on to false beliefs created in childhood.  

     Once we take ownership and are aware of patterns that don't serve us, we can turn things around.  The following are signs we have become toxic:
I. We Blame Everyone Else For Our Problems
  A. Rarely is something    ever truly just one person's fault.
   1. Usually, we play a role (even if             it's minor) in whatever prob-                lems that may arise in our lives.
   2. It may be possible we might have          a unique kind of conflict with              one person.
   3.  It's a red flag, how-                 ever, if you feel 
              everyone in your life is out to get you.
       B.  Let's say we are surrounded by people making our life miserable.
            1. A toxic person will stay in that situation. Does that sound like you?
             2. They happily accept the role of victim.
       C.  We blame others for our problems. 
"Freedom comes from taking respon-sibility; bondage comes from giving it away."  Henry Cloud, Changes That Heal
            1. This way we don't have to address our part in it.
            2.  A healthy-minded individual, however, makes every effort to get into a better                                position, to relate with emotionally healthier people. 
            3. It's better taking responsibility for our feelings, attitudes, and behavior. We do this by                     being present, expressing the needs beneath our feelings. 
               a. We learn in recovery, that: 
"If we feel like a doormat, we need to get off     the floor."                 Courage to Change, 361. 
               b. We stay in the solution, looking at what we can do to find the peace and happiness we                     want.  See the difference?
  So, How Do We Take Action?
1.  Think about everything that is going wrong in our life.
2.  Evaluate the ways we contributed to the problem.
           a. Write it all down.
           b. Come up with a plan for making things right, using amends. 
3. Use Nonviolent Communication when someone else irrates us.  
           a.  You will feel empowered, and best of all — no more blaming or complaining!
           b.  Instead express what is alive within you, the needs beneath your negative feelings. 
4.  Do not take the "Poor Me Victim" position.  
           a.  When we do that we are blaming the entire problem on the other person. 
           b.  We are giving a blind eye to our part regarding the conflict. 
II.  We Talk Behind People's Backs
      A.  From our earliest days in grade school, we've been tempted into conversa-tions that can hurt others and malign their character.
  1. Gossip is a part of life.  It        will likely continue to            exist until the end of  time.
  2. That being said, we have a choice about whether to be an active participant.
     B.  We don't want to be the hub for the juicy tidbits circulating throughout the office or within            your circle of friends.
        1. Make a conscious effort to walk away from conversations that could potentially hurt                    someone else.       
"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth but only such word as is good for edification, according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear."  Ephesian 4:29
           a.  Talking negatively about others never contributes towards the common welfare.  
           b.  It is not constructive. 
           c.  It robs a group of the unity it can have. 
           2. We don't want to be associated with that kind of negativity.
    C.  It's understandable you might need to vent, following an argument.
           1. It's one thing having a confidante we can trust.
           2. It's another issue if we engage in "trash talk" about someone with whom you've had a                    disagreement.
           3.  If something bothers you, take a few moments to gather your thoughts and speak to the                 other person directly and privately.  Keep in mind the passage cited above. 
 Taking Action
1. Get honest with yourself about hurtful things said about others.
         a.  Determine the needs beneath our judgments.   
              1)  Express them. 
              2)  This is being authentic.
2.  If someone has confronted us about our actions.
         a.  Take a deep breath and take ownership of our unacceptable comments.
         b.  Acknowledge to the other person your error. 
                 "An admission of error is a sign of strength,  rather than weakness."  Goethe.
       c.  'Fessing up reveals we are teachable.  We are demonstrating humility, admitting we are                            less than perfect.
         d.  Make amends, if needed. 
                   1.  Ask what you can do to make things right. 
                   2.  Apologies are not helpful or effective.
         e.  Commit to being more respectful in the future.

Taking A Better Look
    Earlier, a passage was cited.  We are going to zero in on it.  The quote tells us there four helpful qualities to have in mind when talking with others:
"Let no unwholesome word                proceed from your mouth." 
     Firstly, this passage informs us we want to make sure our words are wholesome.  

     In this Ephesians passage, the word for unwholesome referred to maggot-infested fruit.  The writer paints a picture.  When we gossip, it like maggots pouring from our mouth. 

     Not a pretty image, is it?

     Much better is having a conversation that is restorative.  The following steps share how that is possible. 
"[Say] only such a word as is good for edification."
     Secondly, the writer encourages us, that when we speak, let it build up, not tear down. We get the word building---edifice---from edification. We'll need to remove judgment and gossip from our conversation. 

    What can we say that is constructive?  What can we share that makes people feel better, because of the time spent with us?  This a terrific way of focusing what we say. 
       "According to the need of the moment."
     Thirdly, the passage tells we want to speak that which is timely and relevant for the moment. 

      This means we do not dump the truck on a person, bringing up all the hurtful things in the past that bother us about them, when are upset with them. We stay focused, present, stating what is the vexing issue right now.  We are neither hysterical nor historical when talking to someone who troubles us. 

"That it may give grace to those who hear."     
      Lastly, the result of our conversations should bring grace.  What does this mean? We don't use the word grace anymore.  

     Now, grace means a quick prayer before a meal.  Or it is a girl's name. 

     Grace used in the quote refers to leaving a healing, restorative impact with the one we are relating with.  This is to be our goal regarding the impact we want to leave after being with a person.  Normally, when we are perturbed, this is the exact opposite of how we want to be. Right?  

    When angry, we want to verbally stab the person who bothers us. The idea of being gracious when irritated is quite a rebuke to us, isn't it?

     This idea of grace is keeping with a comment made by Oprah Winfrey: 
"We may not remember what a person says after we were with them.  But we will remember how we felt after we spent time with them."
      Do people feel they are a better person because they spent time with us?  Do they feel more at ease? Do they feel loved, care for?   If so, then we have dished out grace during our time spent with them,  We have given grace to those who hear (from us). 

       Do people feel more lighthearted?  Have they laughed during their time with us? If so, we have given grace to those we have spent time with. 
III.  We Take More Than We Give
  A.  Problems arise if we have a never-ending string of requests.  But we do not return the favor.
            1. Do we find ourselves hiding when others ask for help?
            2. Do we make excuses for why we don't lend a hand, offering assistance?
              a. If so, it won't be long before people stop responding to our pleas in times of need.   
"He who has friends must show himself friendly."   Jewish proverb
            In other words, if we want friends, we need to be one. 
Taking Action
1. Think of someone having a hard time.
       a.  Offer a few ways in which we can help.
2.  Be realistic and honest, if we are struggling or strapped for time.
       a. We can say something like, "I wish I could do more but, right now, I'm able to…"
3.  Start small, if you have to.  Anything is better than nothing!
IV. Our Friends Have Disappeared
   A. When people leave us,            they tend to do it qui-            etly.  They want to                  avoid an uncomfor-                table confrontation.
        1. They are, after all,                 pulling away for a                 reason. It's not until a             special occasion, cri-             sis, or significant                   event occurs that we               realize how alone    we've become.
    B. If our birthday rolls around and no one offers to celebrate with us, we might have to                      acknowledge our friends have jumped ship.
       1. It can be tempting to get mad.
            a. We might feel like sending angry messages, demanding an explanation for their                             behavior.
        2. But if we want answers, the wise thing would be to reflect on our recent behavior.      
            a. Have we been negative, demanding, overly dramatic?
            b. More than likely, we have pushed people away without realizing it.
 Taking Action:
1.  Be honest with ourselves about why our friends have gone into hiding.
2.  Reach out to them, allow them to express their frustration with us, our behavior.
3.  Decide whether the friendship is worth saving.
     a.  If it is, make amends for our actions, not apologies.
     b.  Commit to making improvements.
V. Our Life Is Constantly Full of Drama
   A. Everyone can go through some pretty intense moments in their lives.
       1.  Sometimes, we truly can't help what's happening to us.
       2.  All we can do is stay strong while                     focusing on how we can improve our                 situation.
   B.  It's entirely different, however, if we                  thrive when things are going wrong. For            many of us, it was our normalcy                        while growing up.
     1. Drama can be addictive.
         a. We might have become hooked on the                     attention received when our life is in                       tatters. 
          b.  We might be on the precipice of being                    the boy who cried wolf too much.
     2. But your loved ones will grow tired of listening to endless complaints.
         a. We want to find solutions to our problems.
         b. If we relish the hopelessness of a                            dramatic existence, we've probably                        allowed toxicity to enter into our lives.
 What Can We Do?
       1.  Explore the reasons why we might be attracting drama.
       2.  Identify any negative patterns that keep things on the crazier side.
            a.  Like, do we hang out with toxic people?
       3.  It's possible that we feel ignored and neglected by loved ones.
            a.  If so, communicate how you are feeling and then find new, productive ways to                                          keep in touch.
VI. We Can't Let Go
    A.  It can be really hard to move on when we've been hurt or disappointed by someone or something.
       1.  Most of us, though, find our way through these tough moments and begin looking forward to the happier times that lie ahead.
    B. We may refuse to cut ties with people who hurt us or we are determined to hold a grudge.
       1.  It might become very difficult for those around us to be supportive. One of the main                     reasons for this is that things will never improve as long as we stay in a toxic situation or               mindset.
       2.  If we aren't willing to take the necessary steps to better our life, why should we expect                   others to stick around and listen to us complain?
Taking Action
1.  Accept someone's apology and work hard on forgiveness.
2.  Remember that "Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is letting go of the hurt." Also, "That we               cannot keep a person down without staying down with him."
2.  Stop obsessing over, and throw away, mementos from a failed relationship.
3.  Find a new hobby where you can make new friends.  
      It's not easy — moving on takes effort — but if you keep putting one foot in front of the               other, one day you will look back and be able to see how far you've come.
VII. We Have An Intense Need to Be Right
  A. There's a saying: "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Wouldn't it be great          if we could be both right and happy all the time?  Sure!  Is that possible or realistic? Abso-            lutely not.
   B.  Besides, in most situations, there will be more than one way to be "right." It's all about                  compromise and seeing other people's perspectives!  This is Tradition Two perspective.
   C.  You find yourself irritated. You made a mistake at work, or one of your theories was proven          wrong by someone else. 
       1. We might need to ask if these arguments are worth damaging our relationships or hamper-            ing our ability to be happy.
       2. It might be hard conceding to others.  But life will be easier once we see how much more              peaceful our life becomes.
 Taking Action
       1.  Resist the need to jump in with a fact or detail that proves you are correct.
       2.  Learn to be content with allowing others to find their own answers, especially if it means               keeping the peace.
       3.  Learn to say, "You might be right."  After all, how important is it, to always be right?
            a.  All we are doing is making ourselves annoying to others when we are unable to budge.
VIII. We Tend to Focus On the Negative
     There are positives and negatives to every situation in life. While it's important that we consider any poten-tial consequences to our actions and choices, life is far more pleasant and pro-ductive when we adopt an optimistic outlook.
    A. When you find yourself          focusing on what could          go wrong in a situation          or if you constantly                  feel the need to give              those around you a "re-ality check," you have begun to place a higher value on negativity than all of the positives that exist around you.
    B.   After a while, this behavior attracts other toxic, negative people.  
         1. You may find yourself struggling to feel good about anything.
 Taking Action
  1. Surround yourself with positive people.
  2. Be honest with others that you are trying to be less pessimistic.
  3. Create a gratitude journal.
        a.  Before bed, list five things that happened during your day for which you are thankful. It's             a game and perspective changer!
IX. We Dominate the Conversation
    A. Think about the last time you sat down and talked with a friend.
            1.  Did the conversa-tion volley back and forth between you or was it more one-sided?         
            2.  If you determine that your issues and interests dominated the discussion, extend your reflection to all of your interactions. Are you regularly hogging the spotlight and cutting people off?
       B. There are few things more frustrating and toxic than going through the effort of meeting a             friend for a lunch date and then spending the next hour trying to get a word in edgewise.               It's inconsiderate, selfish, and sends the message that you aren't interested in anyone else's             life but your own.
Taking Action
1.  If you realize you are dominating the conversation, make a date with a friend.
    a.  Let them do all the talking.
    b.  Get things back on an even playing field, learn more about what's been happening in their            life.
    c.  Show them they are important to you.
    d.  Going forward, make an effort to keep the conversation balanced so that you both walk                away feeling heard and valued.
X.  A More Positive Future
     A.  So don't feel bad if we identify with several signs of being toxic.
            1. Commit to making healthy changes, make amends with those offended.  
            2.  It's no fun realizing we are responsible for bringing negativity into our life as well as                      those around us.
      B.  We may find we are running in circles, repeatedly fighting the same battles.
            1. We alienate friends.
            2. We are overwhelmed with pessimism. 
      C.  When we find ourselves in such a place, we need to step back and evaluate what is truly               causing our problems.
        The good news is that, the sooner we take ownership of our role in our unhappiness, the quicker we kick toxic, alienating behaviors to the curb.  This list of negative qualities show up in the best of us.
        Commit to making healthy changes.  When we do, we are creating a better today and tomorrow.  When times are tough, we'll feel stronger. 
        Consider using the action steps suggested above.  When we do, we create and attract a positive, supportive community.   It will help us during times of trouble.  We will move from singing the blues to enjoying a life that is exciting because of the close, authentic relationships we now share. 

     How are you?  It feels good, visiting with you after a long absence. 

     This positive place in cyberspace is more than an inn of gratitude. It is a treasure chest, too.  It holds 1,221 posts and more than 500,000 words. That is enough material for six books.

    Please visit the different rooms---the posts. There is plenty to browse through.

     The Inn is about celebrating life.  There are discussions about the dis-cernment needed to enjoy safe, fulfilling relationships. There are posts on how we can thrive.

     Using recovery, this can be true even while enduring life's storms: betrayal from others, judgment, dealing with situational and inter-personal drama. The material shared within these walls reveal how we can remain strong.  We learn how we can remain calm, while under pressure, experiencing adversity.

  I know I have been silent. Connecting with you, I've missed. Really.

    However, I see in my absence we've crossed the 800,000 views mark. I hope time spent at this inn increases your gratitude.  May it guide you in how we can be simultaneously kind and authentic while standing in our power when relating with others.

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Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.