Striving for ‘Imprefection’: Avoiding the seduction of negative thinking

Each week, I find it more and more difficult to prevent the current news cycle from wrenching the reins of this column and hijacking it into the topic of current events.

If you have read my writing for a while — or I have had the pleasure of getting to know you in person — you know that I have very strong political views and believe that I can effectively argue for my causes, while still remaining respectful of those who respectfully dis-agree. So, it’s not that I think I should shy away from such discussions or that those topics don’t matter. Rather, there’s a place and time for them, and these 600-word missives are neither.

Having laid all that on the table, the state of the nation and world seeps into our collective consciousness; we cannot avoid it, even if we tried. There is no shield nor is it wise to blind ourselves from what is happening around us. Yet, at times, I feel like I am marinating in a stagnant, slime-covered, putrid swamp and emerge as quickly as possible, begging to be purified.

The result to this onslaught of negativity and name-calling is to wipe one’s hands of the whole repulsive situation, thinking, “I’m done! Count me out! It’s never going to get any better. I can’t do anything about it. Why even bother to care?”

That attitude — even more than the events that triggered it — is the true, more pressing danger. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of negative thinking. Sure, the negativity is enticing. It’s a simulated siren’s call, offering peace and quiet, cooing seductively, “Come here; forget your woes. Let me take care of you. You don’t need to think about it.”

“How is negative thinking a luxury?” you might ask.

A fair question; after all, one usually associates “luxury” with fancy cars, fine food, or affluent vacations, not pessimism and hopelessness.

Yet, when we throw our hands up in despondent despair, we have no choice but to give up. Upon taking such an action, we relinquish control, renouncing responsibility for what happens. Logically, negative thoughts lead to negative action, locking in the status quo, the very set of conditions causing our reactions in the first place.

I’ve developed a plan to counter this. Please join me.

Step one: Breathe. Get settled. Take a moment.

Step two: Remember that there is no time nor situation where adding love, compassion and positive energy will make it worse. Images on social media proclaim, “Throw kindness like confetti,” “Be the reason someone smiles to-day,” “Be the kindness you want to see.” No less than the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind when-ever possible. It’s always possible.”

Step three: Take a small action, any action. Sure, smiling at a stranger, opening a door for someone you don’t know or letting a car into traffic will not bring peace to the planet, stop terrorists or ease climate change. I’m not saying it will. But giving to the voices of doubt holding you down sure won’t either.

Actions terminate panic and open wide the possibility of hope. As long as hope is alive, there’s opportunity for better.

Scott “Q” Marcus is a speaker and author. Since losing 70 pounds 23 years ago, he conducts speeches, workshops, and presentation. He also coaches individuals and consults with companies on how to implement and handle change. He can be reached at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com.

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