I secured my seat belt, looked in my rearview mirror and placed my car into reverse. I began to slowly back out. About halfway out, I saw a car in the distance heading in my direction rather quickly. I placed my foot on the brake thinking they were going to see me and slow down. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The driver of the car accelerated and I had to quickly dart back into my space.
As a human, my first reaction was to get mad. How dare she be so reckless in a public parking lot? My entire mood shifted from a happy one into one that was tainted with negativity.
As I exited the parking lot, I couldn’t shake how mad I was. So, I had to make a choice not to allow this person to ruin my day. In other words, I had to shift the way I looked at the situation. Otherwise, her insensitive actions were controlling me.
Shifting our mindset from negative to positive is much easier said than done. I’ve written about this in my columns on many occasions as well as personally read tons of information about it. Just like with many things, it always sounds so simple when we see it in writing. As we all know, this is one of the hardest lessons to master.
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I have always tried to practice what I preach. You noticed I used the word “tried.”
I am definitely a work in progress and have allowed negativity to get the best of me on more than one occasion. But, as I grow older, I really attempt to examine a situation before I react. For most of us it’s going against the grain.
How do we react when we burn our hand on a stove? Of course, we snatch our hand away and sometimes even want to strike back at the stove for burning us.
We react the same exact way to people. When our feelings are hurt, our egos get bruised and we want to immediately take action against the culprit.
The other day, I found myself in a situation that provided me with the perfect opportunity to observe how positive actions can break down negativity. It is always the lessons we learn firsthand that we remember the most. By experiencing them personally, we are better able to experience what happens when we shift the way we handle a situation from negative to positive.
The other evening, I became aware of some negative comments posted about me on social media. Of course, my first reaction was to strike back. Instead, I decided to sleep on it and see how I felt the next morning.
Even though some of the sting was gone, my ego still wanted me to respond to the person who wrote the unkind remarks.
In my private message to the person, I clearly pointed out the untruths that were posted about me. I pressed send and never expected to hear anything back. To my surprise, I almost immediately received a return message. Expecting the worst, I braced myself as I began to read it.
It was at this point I clearly noticed positivity beginning to diffuse a negative situation. Instead of attacking me, the person was horrified and apologized -- a reaction I certainly wasn’t expecting.
Social media provides many opportunities for us to hide behind our words. It’s easy to attack someone when we don’t have to face them in person -- especially someone we don’t really know.
Instead, this person completely took responsibility for her actions and wanted to know what she could do to make it up to me.
I responded quickly and accepted her apology. Because of the way she handled it, the negativity diminished and it caused me to shift the way I felt about the entire situation. Before I knew it, we were messaging back and forth and even ended up becoming friends on Facebook. There was a lesson for both of us to learn in this situation -- and we did.
When we are able to witness firsthand how positive energy wins, it makes us want to use its power more often. They say that practice makes perfect. Unfortunately, life does provide us many opportunities to learn. Every situation is different, but one thing is for sure; each solution will be better when we choose to be positive.
In these two situations, I was so happy I had chosen to be positive. But the next evening, just like a virus lurking in the darkness, negativity once again reared its ugly head.
Hiding behind words on my answering machine, someone without a return number or name left this simple yet hurtful message for me: “I’m tired of reading things about your mother!”
Okay Mark, here you go. Take a deep breath ... look for something positive!
Mark Ballard’s column runs each week in The Telegraph. Send your questions or comments to P.O. Box 4232, Macon, GA 31208; call 478-757-6877; email email@example.com; follow him at instagram.com/markcreates; or become a subscriber to Mark’s Facebook page.