What’s the deal with negative people?

Why oh why are there some people who are just so negative? Why do they have to always be such downers? Well, I guess I can kind of relate to those “Debbie downers”. Once I start rolling on something that irritates me or frustrates me, it is hard to stop me. It is hard work for me to stay mentally positive.

For the past five years I lived in one place. There were various aspects about this place that I loved. There were many people that I loved. There were also things in this place that were difficult. There were things that were a drain on my mental positivity. As a result, I let myself have a negative mindset. It got worse and worse over the course of a few years and eventually it was difficult to function positively. I take responsibility for my mindset and emotional state. I try not to be bitter. I am especially thankful for my husband who was a major support and who worked so hard to help me stay positive.

Now I like to say that I am in recovery. I am recovering from the both the situation and the choices that I made that led to the negativity in my life. As much as I try to take responsibility for my mindset, I also must take it easy on myself and know that the situation was not easy and was outside of my control. In my time of recovery, I am working on positive thinking. Just yesterday, I was in two situations where I quickly realized that if I let myself, I could do into the negative spiral. The first situation was in the school parking lot where I managed to get myself stuck between 3 other cars. All the other drivers seemed to be expecting me to get out of the way and were not willing to help. The second situation was in line at the grocery store. The put my basket of items on the conveyor belt and the cashier just stood there. Eventually she said something to me in Hungarian and swept her hand towards the basket, indicating that I needed to empty the basket. She then turned and ranted to her fellow employee about the bad customer that I was. Somehow that made me quite upset in that moment. As I was reflecting on these situations after leaving the parking lot and the store, I stayed annoyed. But I knew that if I let it get to me then in a very short time, I will be annoyed with anyone who is rude to me. And Hungarians are not known for the customer service so I could spend a lot of time being annoyed. In both of these situations (which are fairly minor in the grand scheme of possible difficult situations), I realized how my mindset can affect me and my positivity and just the general atmosphere of my day and my life at that moment. I love living here in Budapest and I want that enjoyment and love of this city and the country stay with me so I need to ensure that I do not allow those challenging situations affect my positive mentality. Althought these situations might not be big, the negative spiral can start small.

In my morning “readings” (between Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram), I found a few articles on negative thinking. The first comes from a Christian meditation that I follow on Facebook. It is called Proverbs 31 Ministry and the article is Re-Routing Negative Thoughts. The idea of the meditation is about changing one’s focus when thinking negatively. Think about something else. Think about things that are true, lovely, admirable, and excellent!

Another reading that I found is this fun infographic that looks at ways to change negative thoughts with relevant research and information. (I found it in two separate locations: Self Magazine and LifeHack…that is how good it is!)

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Another aspect of being a negative person is that it can push other people away. It is never nice to be around someone else who is negative and brings you down. In this article on Mark and Angel Hack Life, it discusses thoughts that we might have that can cause us to be negative and as a result make others less likely to want to spend time with us. Basically thinking that you need to be something else than who you are and what you are like, is negative: “I am not enough of something” or “I should be more like this or that”. Not allowing yourself or others to make mistakes and to be forgiven is another thought that pushes others away. Love and care for others and yourself! (Another article on this same website discusses 12 Toxic Behaviors that Push People Away).

And the final article I read this morning was from powerofpositivity.com and it was about 3 ways to handle negative thoughts. Know that negative thoughts are actually quite normal and will happen to everyone. Give yourself a break and accept that you will have negative thoughts. Then try to gain understanding at where the issues are with the negative thoughts.

Are you a negative person? What are your negative thoughts? How can you refocus or adjust those negative thoughts?

Stay Positive!

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#notaboutlooks #eattosatisfy

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Two things: The first was the image above. The second is the article here Stop Policing My Daughter’s Appetite.

Our culture allows us to “compliment” each other as females on how we LOOK and what we EAT or DON’T EAT. Is that okay? How does it make us feel?

Yes, for sure, I like to be complimented on how I look…particularly if I put a lot of work into it! On normal day, I spend as little time as I can doing my hair and what little bit of makeup that I wear. I  avoid blow drying my hair because I do not have the patience for it. I like the way I look and feel on those normal days. I do like to be complimented, especially by my husband because he is important to me and I care what he thinks. I am not sure that I care significantly what the random person on the street or even an acquaintance thinks about my looks. But is this how we should assess each other? When we see a little girl, should we discuss how she cute she looks first? Should this be the first discussion point with our friends? Is it what you and your friends discuss?

I especially noticed the tendency to be negative about ourselves and how we look this week when I had to hand out school pictures to students. Almost every female student, and many male students, took their school picture and immediately said how horrible they looked in it and hid it. I wonder how much of this is the dramatics and how much is legitimately feeling they don’t look good in the picture? After a few more minutes of looking at their own pictures and their friends pictures, the students tended to get more critical of themselves talking more specifically about what was terrible in their pictures. They would also tend to be more forgiving of their friends pictures, saying how much better it was then their own. The discussion would then turn into a competition about whose picture was worse. How hard are we on ourselves? Why? Why has that become so acceptable?

What about our diet or eating habits? Not the kind of diet where we restrict our foods but rather the kind of diet that means just what we eat. How often do we discuss our eating habits? How critical are we of ourselves?

Cyberbullying

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Cyberbullying is a very real part of our current social world, particularly for young people. Aspects of bullying online that are different than bullying in person make it even more dangerous and destructive for young people. Because the “victim” and the “bully” are not face to face when it is done online, facial expressions and body language are not visible to bullies. A bully can say mean things hidden behind the anonymity and invisibility of the internet.

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Recently I watched a movie called “Cyberbully” which showed very real consequences of cyberbullying. In this movie, a young woman in high school joins a social media site where she is connected to her friends and classmates online. Through a series of events, she shares personal information with someone she doesn’t know well online who then uses that information to make fun of her and ridicule her online. Other people join in on the mean behaviour online. Eventually she has a hard time going to school and she even attempts suicide. While attending an cyberbullying support group, ideas for preventing and reducing cyberbullying are discussed. For example, avoiding sharing personal information online, standing up for others who are being bullied online, and protecting privacy with online settings.

Watching this movie made me think about some real life cyberbullying situations where young people have lost their lives because of the anguish and difficulty they face. Amanda Todd was a young woman who shared some private information with someone she didn’t know online. Eventually this person shared that information with many other people online and caused Amanda to change schools and try various methods of “getting away” from this person. Because this person managed to follow her online wherever she went, Amanda eventually made a youtube video explaining her anguish being bullied and then committed suicide. I am so sad at the difficulty that this young woman experienced. Amanda Todd is one of many young people who have taken their own lives or attempted suicide as result of such bullying.

In Canada, there are both civil and criminal laws related to cyberbullying. Provinces in Canada also have specific laws related to cyberbullying. The Education Act in the province of Ontario defines both bullying and cyberbullying. The maximum penalty for a person charged with cyberbullying is 10 years in prison. These are very important laws to keep young people safe.

As our world and the way that we interact changes, we must also change with it, including our education and laws. The law in Canada also requires schools to provide bullying prevention education to all the students. It can be difficult as adults to truly understand what our children and students are experiencing in their world of social media but we need to do our best to stay current and aware.

More information:

Cyberbullying and the Law Fact Sheet

What are the legal consequences of cyberbullying?

Stalking, Criminal Harassment, and Cyberbullying

Mindfulness

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My theory about why we need mindfulness is that it is related to be “connected” continuously.  Our brains can become overworked from all the stimulation we get from various sources, such as computer, TV, internet, and smartphone. We are 100% connected. We rarely get a break and when we do, we are wondering what we are missing! When we overwork our brains for so long, they cannot slow down. Therefore, we need to train ourselves to slow our brains down by being more mindful.

Mindfulness is about taking the time to connect with what is happening in the present moment. It means taking time to pause and not do anything except let your brain catch up. I recently watched some videos on mindful eating by an expert in the field. Dr. Susan Albers is a psychologist who has written several books on mindful eating, including her most recent book called “Eat Q”. She has a website about Eating Mindfully. The ideas that Dr. Albers shared in the videos came from “Eat Q.”

The Language of Mindfulness involves compassion. Instead of saying “I should” or “I shouldn’t eat that”, we need to be more curious and consider “Am I eating mindfully?” Allow ourselves to be more accepting and less critical to making choices.

Eating Mindfully – How? Follow the 4 S’s: 1. Sit down to have better focus and experience. 2. Shift into the moment – try not to think ahead or in the past, be in the moment 3. Senses – use smell, taste, texture to enjoy the food. 4. Savour and eat slowing. Set an intentional pace while you eat. Avoid racing through eating.

IOU Model of Mindful Eating

I – Inside: be aware of your thoughts and feelings while you are eating. How do you feel?

O – Outside: What is around you in the external environment? How does it affect you?

U – You: Be mindful of inside and outside and take the appropriate action for you.

Peek Behind the Craving (Keep Calm Tool #4)

Ask yourself when you are having a craving and consider the factors that impact mindless eating decisions:

Where are you? What are you doing? How are you feeling in this moment? Who is with you? What do you want to eat?

All of these tips and ideas come from Dr. Albers books and videos. I found these particular ideas to be helpful for myself for eating more mindfully but also related to other aspects of life. For example, when I am considering other aspects of staying healthy, such as going to the gym, I need to use similar ideas to use more compassionate language when I am not doing what I want to do. I need to work on not thinking only in black and white and allow the grey.

Strong Girls…Why?

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Education for women is enormously valuable. Educated and empowered girls and women are more protected them from poverty, disease, exploitation, and unemployment. Economic conditions, family life, and personal and family health are all improved when women are more educated.

Sports participation also has a positive impact on girls and women. Girls who are involved in sports do better academically, socially, and emotionally. These girls are more likely to have higher grades in school, to have stronger relationships, and to have a more positive body image. In my career as a Physical and Health Education teacher and sports coach, I have wanted to empower girls to be active in sports and to value their own image as athletes and as valuable people.

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 Check out (and “Like”) the Facebook page for things that are happening to support Strong Girls! Go to Facebook page: Strong Girls Strong World

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Gratitude

Gratitude is everywhere. On Facebook, people are being encouraged to list there 3-5 things a day that they are grateful for. I recently received an update from a blog that I follow http://www.everywomanover29.com/blog/gratitude-less-anxiety/. The article discussed the importance of gratitude to feel better and have less anxiety.

What am I grateful for?

– My wonderful husband, Niall, and our new puppy, Hamish, who is already bringing us lots of love and laughter.

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– Our new friends, job, and life in Budapest that we are LOVING!

– My family, which is spread across two continents.

– The time, opportunity, and inspiration to write this blog and to share our lives with others.

What’s the big deal with gratitude? Why is it so important to be grateful and thankful for what we have? 

Research says that people who are grateful (think, talk, or write about gratitude):

– exercise more and feel more optimistic

– are more alert, enthusiastic, determined, attentive, energetic, and have longer and better quality of sleep

– have less depression and stress

– more likely to help others

– place less importance on material goods and more likely to share with others

“The Importance of Gratitude.” UMass Dartmouth. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2014.

There is a lot of evidence to show that gratitude is important. I am a Christian and I believe in God and the Bible. For some people, that statement would immediately cause a negative reaction. I realize that there are many people who do not believe in God or the Bible. I also realize there are many people that have seen behaviours in church or in people who say they are Christians and as a result do not believe in God or the Bible. There are many people who have had many difficult situations in their lives and so they do not believe in God or the Bible. I am not trying to push or preach to anyone. I will write about what I believe.

Therefore, for me, I see a connection between the importance of gratitude that I have seen on Facebook and in other places, to what I know about God and the Bible. God has been telling us to be grateful and thankful for a long time already. I believe that he does this both because it is good for us human beings to practice gratitude and also because it is important for us to be grateful to God. Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” I Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The statement “give thanks in all circumstances” is significant to me. It seems that whatever is happening to us, we need to give thanks and be grateful. Society (and positive psychology) is saying the same thing as God is saying in the Bible. Despite difficult times or challenging circumstances there are always ways that we can be grateful. Last June, I travelled with 4 other teachers and 25 high school students to a school in Malawi, Africa. This school has about 400 students, ALL of whom have been affected by HIV/AIDS. For many the children themselves have contracted the disease and all of the children had lost one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Despite these impossible circumstances, these children found a way to be happy and positive and grateful. They showed us their love with their hugs and smiles.

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There is no way we can compare or categorize difficulties in our lives. We all have our own struggles. We all have our own gratitude.

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