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Avoiding Smack Talk: How to create a more positive environment

athenaLIFEWendy MclemoreComment
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It seems that everywhere we turn these days, negative influences creep into our day.  From reality TV showing only the worst in people, to coworkers bad-mouthing the new hire, to even our own mirrors reflecting the unfavorable, negative words and thoughts attack us from all directions.  And whether we know it or not, they are powerful and shape the decisions we make in our day.  When the messages we repeat are positive and uplifting, we are much more likely to achieve personal goals.  How do we know where this negativity comes from, and how can we encourage upbeat conversations? Here are some helpful hints.  

Negativity on a large scale:  Two ways to guard against negative point of views in our big world beyond the barre…

a.    Get a personal no-gossip policy. If the conversation turns destructive to others, add kind comments, or simply change the subject.  For instance, maybe you’re at a dinner with several folks and the dialogue shifts to bashing the hairstyle of Vickie, President of your woman’s group.  Drop a positive bomb into the discussion.  “Vickie is such an amazing lady.”  The gossip cannot continue when you refuse to play along.  
b.    Control what your TV delivers or turn it off entirely.  This hint may sound like old-fashioned advice from mom, but in reality, much of what is being delivered into our living rooms can make us down in the dumps or even fearful. Read the news with neutral facts instead of listening to the grandstanding drama of reporters. Choose movies and shows that are uplifting or provide inspiration.  

Undesirable talk from your closest peers, family or friends:  Three suggestions to stay positive when our close relations release negative energy and we can't get into child's pose fast enough… 

a.    Reframe comments. Identify the folks who are raining on your good spirits and get a few phrases to use in the moment.  For example, your coworker Maria is generally cheerful but lately she’s behind in her paperwork and keeps complaining.  You don’t want to discount her feelings but you refuse to get caught up in her negativity.  What can you do?  Get a few phrases ready to throw in at any moment. One example is to tap into your peer’s personal strengths.  “Maria, you’re an organized person.  You’re an expert at this job.”  Or, try becoming your friend’s cheerleader. “Girl, you got this!”  Or interject humor, a tool that often removes stress from a situation.  Maria may deal with her circumstance in a more constructive way, and, more importantly, you didn’t go down her pessimistic path.  
b.    Fend off the hurtful remarks. If you find it difficult to redirect the conversation, refuse to absorb the negative energy as your own.  Just like Wonder Woman deflects bullets with her gold bracelets, visualize your version of your favorite shield and practice using it.  
c.    Keep company with those who elevate you.  Add people to your life who compliment you, give great hugs, and make you laugh. These friends are our allies and front support in times when we feel down or need encouragement! 

Personal negative thoughts:  What are we telling ourselves at home, work, school and at the barre?  

a.    Change your phrasing.  We tend to beat up on ourselves or create anxiety about the unknown.  Notice your emotions with these two simple phrases - “I am so nervous” vs. “I am excited!”  Both phrases have similar feelings but the energy is more positive with the second.  Listen to your own thoughts.  Do you use the words "Can’t" and "Don’t" often?  "Not" is a negative word. Get rid of it. Turn “I can’t get into shape” into “I can do this one step at a time.”  
b.    Repeat positive phrases to yourself.  “I am beautiful.”  “I am strong.”  “I can do this!” When we encourage ourselves, we are more likely to achieve our goals and keep a healthy frame of mind to encourage others and fend off the negative.