The Rattlesnake in Your Circle of Friends

During my many years of learning and growing and understanding how negative people operate and how they lure us into traps that force anger to exit our bodies in the form of hurtful words or loud reactions of self defense, the trickiest among these people are the rattlesnakes. I call them this because they always give some form of warning of their true nature. They are the most vicious. They don’t start off with a cycle of negativity that doesn’t end. They lure you end with the sound of a baby rattle (them defending you against an unknown enemy speaking ill-spirited words against you, for an example… or they are a victim of someone else’s harassment and they play the card well). This sound is usually meant to draw a reaction from you.

How you respond determines how they will react and what they will strike at. A loud response of self defense against anonymous voices whispering your name in odd places will guarantee a barrage of “bad luck” and information getting to unusual sources that otherwise shouldn’t have any access to your life. A public accusation against people you know announcing that you will have your homie’s back or you and your ride or die chick are gonna whoop that @$$ together means that strange people are going to start randomly sending you random messages of vicious nature.

Meanwhile the rattlesnake sits back and watches the events unfold as their bite has sunk in and the venom of negativity has taken hold of your life and caused a chain reaction that ultimately results in a downfall of your character as well as your reputation.

It is vitally important to pay attention to the tall grass around you (your circle of friends) and listen for the rattle. It’s usually very subtle and these rattlesnakes will often establish themselves as good people with no reason to make up these stories, but make no mistake… not every victim in your circle of friends is a victim and not every soldier fighting your battles for you against phantom whispers is actually hearing or seeing anything.

By paying attention to your surroundings and recognizing the sound of the rattle, you can prepare yourself to respond positively. “I heard there was someone that was talking negatively about me today. I’m sorry for whatever I’ve done to offend you and would love the opportunity to make it right. Please reach out to me and I will make sure that any misunderstandings between us can be resolved. I hope that you get this message as I have no intention of leaving someone offended by my actions and would like to know what it is I’ve done to offend so I can prevent this from happening in the future.” Or “I have a great love for my friend/family member X, and at this moment he/she is upset because of a disagreement with someone else. I would love the opportunity to have a sit down with you both to try to mediate a resolution to this problem to bring an end to the issues causing the negativity you’re having.”

These kind of reactions let the rattlesnake know that you’ve heard the rattle and you’ve left their territory. There is nothing to strike at. There was no loud response. You didn’t praise them for taking up a fight for you. A proper response to the common rattle of mystery people talking about you that the rattlesnake has bravely spoken against is “thank you for bringing this to my attention. In the future, please refrain from interfering. I don’t want to add to negativity, and responding to this behavior does add to negativity. The less response people receive, the less negativity there will be in the future. Thank you for looking out for me, but for your safety and mine, please keep from interfering in the future.”

Respond to the rattle with a calm and positive reaction, letting the rattlesnake know that you’re out of their territory, and there will be no strike later. The more positivity we bring to the world, the better the world will be. And who knows? Maybe responding to the rattle with positivity will be an influence to transform that rattlesnake into something else.

“When someone tries to pull you into drama and negativity, repeat this statement, Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” Even if it directly involves your name, your response is what people will remember. Beware the rattle, mind your reaction, and have a positivity filled day. ❤

You CAN Forgive Without Commitment

There are so many situations among friends and family where, over time, we learn through many heartaches and many disappointments that some people are just toxic. There are, unfortunately, some people in this world that thrive on unnecessary drama, negativity, and the misery of others.

It is difficult to avoid these situations, as many times the most toxic people we encounter are people that we are fully bonded with. It could be a sibling, a parent, a spouse, or a life long friend. And it never fails… you forgive them, you bond with them, you try to build a relationship with them and out of nowhere they bring up some form of negative energy in the form of comment or action that causes your relationship with them to come to a screeching halt that will escalate.

While I thoroughly support doing everything in your capability to try to bring positive energy to all people in your life, there comes a time when we must accept defeat and defend ourselves in both physical and mental health. Though many times, apologies and forgiveness can lead to healthy and thriving relationships without further issue, there are occasions when a continued and intentional force of negativity must be taken away from our lives.

That doesn’t mean not to forgive the person, nor does it mean to stop loving the person. It simply means letting this person know that you can not allow yourself to continually fall into the same patterns of animosity and negativity that they bring in your life. Forgive them for what they’ve put you through, regardless of how many times they’ve set the same trap. Love them for the role they’ve played in your life…. but do it from a safe distance.

You as a person are allowed a peaceful life. Some relationships can go through the same cycle multiple times over many years. There are two people in my life (again, not naming names) that I have gone through this cycle with over and over for nearly three decades – my entire life… These people will always have a place in my heart. But, because of their nature and their lack of desire to be better people and live in peace, they can not be a part of my life. My hope and dream is that one day, they will return and they will give an honest effort without the negativity and a healthy relationship can be born, but for the amount of years and tears that have gone into trying to build a healthy relationship with them, realistically I know the chances of this happening are 0%.

You can approach the situation in a loving manner. When the negativity begins and your health – both physical and mental – becomes a source of energy to motivate the negativity, be kind. Don’t respond to the negativity with negativity. It will resolve nothing, and your energy will be drained and theirs will be amped up and ready for the next round.

Approach the situation in a way that keeps your health in mind and your peace close. Let them know “I’ve tried [insert amount of efforts] to have a healthy relationship with you, and you continue to hurt me. I love you and will always love you and you will always be an important part of my life. I have some happy memories with you, but at this point those memories will have to suffice. You will always have a place in my heart because of our relationship, but I can’t allow you to continue bringing this negativity into my life.” At this point, part ways.

The negativity will linger, the hurt will burn for some time, but the forgiveness must be real in order for the effect to have maximum impact. Removing yourself from the situation and disallowing further negativity from being a part of your life HAS had positive effects. People have done this to find that the person removed from their life found peace through religion, through finding real love, through finding a cause that matters and making it important, or in some cases through finding a rehabilitation program and seeking out help to relieve themselves of the negative energy that drives them.

Loving from a distance does not always equal a forever farewell. It simply means that you understand that you can’t bring the positivity to this person, so you are removing yourself from the equation to help them find positive energy and positive behavior on their own.

May you all have a peaceful and negativity free day! ❤

When You’re Wrong, Apologize

We all say things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. You can’t take back hurtful words once they’re spoken. It’s impossible. Once the hurtful words leave your mouth, they linger in the mind of the person they were directed at. Maybe you were responding to something you felt was a wrong directed at you. Maybe you felt as if you needed to express some feelings that you’ve bottled up and your words came out harsher than you intended. The hard, cold truth is that once they’ve been spoken, they can’t be unspoken.

You can apologize for the harsh, hurtful words. The person they were directed at may forgive you, or they may hold a grudge for a while. Apologize regardless of the likely outcome. There is a saying that people are their most honest when drunk or angry. I know from personal experience that this isn’t true. When I’m angry, I’m not very honest. I usually know the person I’m angry at well enough to know exactly what to say to hurt them the most because my inner mean girl doesn’t like to lose a fight. And when I’m drunk, I tend to not get very angry, but I’ve told a tall tale or two while under the influence, and have known several that have shared false stories while intoxicated.

The take away from this is that regardless of what was done, and regardless of how angry you were at the time, if you speak hurtful words to someone else, apologize for it. In fact, apologize for even fighting with them in the first place. A conversation that can’t be had in a civil matter, despite our human nature to engage in heated discussion and escalate to something that can become damaging to other people should not be held. If you can’t have the conversation in a civil manner, don’t have it. Walk away from the issue.

Just tonight, I struggled with my inner mean girl myself. I’ve had a recent issue of my Facebook account being hacked by an unknown source. I have my security settings applied so that a code must be obtained directly through my phone in order to log in to my Facebook account because of previous privacy issues. Tonight was a second attempt. I was annoyed by the nuisance of having to stop what I was doing (networking for an advocacy group on Facebook for stronger protocols in schools to better protect children, Protect Our Children NC) to log back into Facebook, change my password and I responded by posting a mean spirited post insulting the would-be hacker’s intelligence and really speaking my mind on the subject. While the actual action didn’t anger me at all, I have a lot going for me right now, a mild nuisance drove me into my not so old behavior patterns and I responded in a non-civil manner.

This was completely uncalled for on my behalf. I deleted the mean spirited post a few minutes later and readdressed the situation by stating that I am praying for the person that continues to try to gain access to my account that they find peace in their own life and a healthier hobby, but the hurtful words were out there, even if only for a short time, for all the world to see. If the person that was trying to hack into my Facebook is struggling with anything in their life, I’ve done damage that could send them into a further downward spiral that can’t be undone. I did issue an apology for the mean spirited post, and I hope that the words in the latter post are taken to heart and that the person trying to gain access to my account finds something that matters and makes it important to them, but I now have to live with the hurtful words I put out first.

“There are three things in life you can never get back: The stone after it’s thrown, the word after it’s spoken, and the moment after it’s passed.”

So, going forward, please remember that apologies may not be a cure-all, but they can go a long way in ensuring reparation in damaged spirits of someone you’ve wronged… even if they wronged you first.

Always Do What’s Right

A popular story that has circulated the internet since dial up was popular is the tale of the young boy who noticed a classmate carrying home all of his books. In some versions of the story, the classmate drops the book and the young boy hurries over to help him pick them up and then helps him to carry them home, in other versions he simply walks up and offers to help him carry them because they look heavy.

In the story the two boys become best friends, the original young boy becoming a popular high school football star and the classmate becoming one of the study hard kids in class, but after the initial meeting where the first boy helped the classmate, they become and remain friends.

At the end of the tale, the classmate becomes valedictorian of his graduating class and states in his speech that he had intended that day to take his own life until he met his best friend who unknowingly approached with kindness and helped him at the right moment. He says a lot about the one act of kindness and the always growing friendship the two continued that had kept him alive to the point that he could stand up and give this speech at graduation.

As someone who has contemplated and even planned my own suicide on more than one occasion, even paraphrasing this story brings me to tears, because I can relate. Some of you may be able to relate as well. Whether it was someone that smiled and said hello when you were feeling invisible, or a phone call coming in at the right time reminding you that you’re loved, or a song playing from a CD saying “Hold on” and catching your attention at just the right time, something stopped you. And because that something or someone stopped you, you feel forever indebted to them. Even when times are hard, you’ve found a new direction in life, just like I did, just like that valedictorian from the story, and just like many others.

So why the hell are you averting your eyes away from others when you see them on the street? Why is it so difficult to reach out to a woman stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire and clearly in distress? Why is it when we see people that seem angry we shy away, afraid of them going off on us? I’m not just asking you, I’m asking me too. I do it all the time. I owe my life to an amazing friend and a band whose members I will likely never meet for just singing the right words in a song, yet most days when I venture out, I fail to follow basic human courtesies toward others and show kindness where it’s clearly needed.

So, to myself and to all of my fellow survivors of the suicide rut… let’s change it. Stop averting your eyes from others, make eye contact and give them a smile. Pull over and ask that lady with a flat tire if she needs any assistance. Smile at the angry person in the grocery line and compliment their shirt just to get their mind off of whatever it is that has them angry or frustrated.

In a survey of suicide survivors, 9 out of 10 realized after they committed the act they thought would kill them that they did not want to die. A separate survey revealed that at least 7 out of 10 stated that if just one person had smiled at them or shown them some kind of kindness, they never would have tried to begin with.

So be that smile, that one act of kindness for somebody today.

The smile you offer today could be the beating heart of a stranger tomorrow.

Responding to Negativity Positively

We’ve all been there. Somebody says something negative about us – whether it’s true or false – and we explode. We take to social media and attack or we go off on the person delivering the message or we end up escalating verbal confrontation to physical confrontation. It’s a part of who we are as human beings, right?

Wrong.

It’s a part of the programming, yes, most people come with fight or flight instincts and usually when our character and reputation into question it is a natural instinct to want to defend ourselves. But responding to negativity with negativity only breeds more negativity.

It’s up to each one of us as individuals to make a difference and allow ourselves to fight against the negativity. After all, you never know what is truly going on in the mind of the person creating the negativity. I’m not saying ignore the negative, absolutely not. It needs to be addressed, but address it positively. Address it in a way that helps shed light on your true character and who you really are without adding more negativity.

Instead of getting angry at words, spin them around to a positive situation. The person attacking you is most likely miserable in their own life and looking for a negative response from you to verify insecurities that live in their mind. So rather than just saying “I have the right” or “They started it” or “They shouldn’t have said,” take the time before you respond to their words to think about the pros and cons of your reaction.

The pros, you get to defend yourself. Yay you. The cons? You’ve confirmed someone else’s insecurities about you, you’ve behaved in a way that allows others to see you basically throw a temper tantrum (and trust me I’ve thrown my fair share and not that long ago), you confirm what they are saying by responding negatively, and you give them ammunition to continue the attack.

When someone is attacking your character, address it. But address it politely. For instance : “So I heard today that I’m a conniving and backstabbing b****. I’m sorry for the person I seem to have offended. Not sure what I’ve done, but if you would come to me and talk to me about it, I will be more than happy to apologize for the wrong I seem to have done.” And if the person comes to you, apologize. Don’t lash out. Start with an apology, because an apology opens the door for forgiveness and forgiveness opens the door for positivity and positivity opens the door for a negativity free environment.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Encouragement Personified

One of the many things about my life that is a huge factor in what I do on a daily basis is my health. I have fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, a vitamin D deficiency, dysmenorrhea, a hormone fluctuation disorder that basically causes all of the hormones in my body to mass produce and go into overdrive if I get stressed, among many other things. These issues combined together often leave me fatigued and downright cranky.

For a year and a half as my health tanked, I created an environment in my mind for allowing the misery that comes with being in constant pain and being sick more frequently than not that allowed me to become a person that even I didn’t like. I was mean to people constantly, whining all the time and just an all around not fun person. Add to that a stressful job that I hated and the irritation that came from that and you’ve got a perfect storm of a negative and discouraging person.

I’m saying all of this to point out that I am not perfect. None of us are. We are going to have days where we’re not going to feel like being nice to other people. But it’s important for us to be nice anyway. One kind act per day can change your attitude.

It was one kind act recently that shifted my course and sent me on a new path in life, switching from one direct sales career to another and hatching a plan for a new company that I’m trying to build that will allow people like me – authors – to have a source of help to be recognized for the hard work that they do and receive guidance to help guide them in a direction that will make their work better than good, but amazing and to where people will want to read their work or watch it in action on television or at the theater.

One kind act by a new friend who barely knew me but went on a limb in an act of trust that is not only uncommon in these days, but unheard of who helped me in a way that – even if I can pay her back financially I can never repay in the amount of gratitude that I feel for her.

This is encouragement personified. This is the very definition. And so, that being said, I challenge you to personify encouragement. Find a limb and step out on it. Give someone hope. Help them change their direction. It could be a financial assist to someone you don’t know very well, it could be words of encouragement. For instance, your friend says they want to be a model. Don’t go into the negatives of modeling, tell them they’ll be great at it. If it doesn’t work out then tell them to keep fighting for their dreams. Help them fight. Be a system of support. Even if you’re only able to personify encouragement by becoming your words and demonstrating the act of support for one person, that is one person in the world whose life will be forever changed because of you.

And that, my friend, is living a successful life.

Why so Catty?

Why do women shame other women? Why is it that a woman going out on the dance floor at a club and dancing with the new trendy dance move (currently the “twerk”) automatically grounds for other women to turn up their noses and say “wow that girl’s twerking? She must be a skank!” Really? Dancing makes someone a skank?

Or the joke that if a prostitute says no is called rape or theft? It’s called rape. That’s not even remotely funny. So what if she sells it? That’s not your business. What is your business is that a fellow woman was violated and whether or not the person that violated her was caught. Want him knocking on your door? Didn’t think so.

Why is it so easy to automatically assume that we know a woman by the clothes she wears? “Oh look at that easy girl over there in that miniskirt showin off those a$$ cheeks. You know she’s a hoe.” Maybe she’s just not ashamed of her body. Maybe it’s 105° outside and she’s wearing a swimsuit under that skirt trying to stay cool in the heat while she’s running errands.

Keep in mind that not every mind works the way your mind works. While you may not be twerking or selling yourself or wearing a miniskirt, there are women that are doing those things. So maybe, the next time you see a girl twerking you might train yourself to think, “that girl looks like she’s having fun, maybe I can look and see if there is a trendy dance move that’s more to my liking and the next time this song plays I can get out there and dance too.” You’re still not twerking, you’re just getting out there and having a good time with the twerkers while doing something you’re more comfortable with and *without* judging the other women on the floor.

Maybe the next time you hear of a prostitute getting raped, you’ll say a prayer that her rapist is brought to justice, or if you hear someone say the joke, you’ll make it clear to them that it is in fact rape and it is a distasteful joke.

Perhaps the next time you see that girl in the mini skirt and notice her butt cheeks are hanging out, you’ll take a moment to really feel the temperature and you might just decide that she’s hot and comfortable enough with her own body to wear something that will keep her cool in the heat.

Judging each other, bashing each other, jumping to conclusions about each other, name calling it’s counterproductive to what our ancestors fought for. Stop being so catty and judgmental and start practicing uplifting behaviors. It only takes ONE person to make a world of difference.

A long shared story told by a high school valedictorian of his best friend says “I was walking home that day to kill myself, but instead I made a friend and because of that friend I’m still here today.”

Be that friend. Help each other out. Uplift each other, build each other up and support one another and you can make all the difference in the world. Maybe just to one person, maybe to the entire world. You’ll never know until you take your nose out of the air and try kindness on for size.