You cannot always walk away. That is everyone’s first response. Everyone tells you to walk away from the toxic relationship, from the toxic friendship, from the toxic family member, or the toxic job. They tell you to let it go.
They are correct. I am guilty of staying in bad relationships, friendships, and workplaces long after the expiration dates. I am the first one to advise you to release the things and people that do you more harm than good.
Today, those are not the negative environments I am addressing. I am addressing those situations from which you cannot walk away. I am addressing those of you that left the no-good, emotionally abusive, cheating husband, but he is still the father of your children. I am addressing the teenager who cannot get up and leave her home. I am addressing the mom who needs the job that drains her to pay the bills. Even more, I am addressing the mountain that you were assigned to move.
You took your mustard seed of faith. You looked past your doubts. You flushed out your fear. Next thing you knew, your mountain was moving. What you did not know was that moving mountains would disrupt your spirit. Something about the mountains was poisonous, and the poisons were seeping into your system. Before you had a chance to figure it out, you were drowning in the negative energy. You could not be positive for that environment or any other environment for that matter.
You could not walk away because you were not finished yet. You were still on an assignment. The job was not done.
These steps are for anyone who has ever needed to be positive when everything around a situation is negative.
1. Find your tribe.
You cannot do it alone…Two years ago, I was assigned the at-risk population at a high performing school in a high performing district. I knew the assignment was coming even before the school district made the decision. When the teacher before me struggled with that set of kids in her class room , the still, small Voice whispered, “Those are your kids. She’s struggling because she is working your assignment.” So at no surprise to me, the next year, her and I shared “those” kids. I wanted to quit every day. But there were these two ladies. I liken them to Aaron and Hur who held up Moses’ arm during battle. Moses was winning as long as he held his arms high. And when he was too tired to hold up his arms, his tribe held up his arms for him so that he could win. Because when he wins, they all win. That was these two ladies for me. When I was too tired to keep moving, they kept moving for me. Everyone needs an Aaron and a Hur. Everyone needs a chance to rest and rely on the efforts of others. Everyone needs someone to be a positive light in a negative environment. Mountains were not meant to be moved solo, even those specifically assigned to you.
2. Watch what you feed your soul.
Not all people eat, sleep, and breathe the power of positivity. That is not what I am speaking of here. Here, I am speaking of the fuel you feed yourself outside of your toxic situation. Tuesday is Steven Furtick day for me. Wednesday is Pastor John Gray day. You resort to your lowest level of training so you need to power up!!!! I am a Love and Hip Hop, Basketball Wives, Real Housewives of whoever fanatic, but I recognize how those shows affect my psyche. I am already assigned toxic. I cannot afford to feed myself any negativity in my spare time so I limit my guilty pleasure to an hour or two per week. I use my 45 minute commute for my favorite Christian leaders along with some praise and worship music – not because I am so Christian but because I know myself. I resort to being petty, to complaining, and to gossiping. I need what goes in me to come out when I am tired so I have to be careful what I put in. And so do you. You need watch your soul food. Guard who you follow. Guard who you consider your tribe. Guard what you do when you have free time. To be positive, you have to let the negative environment out. You do not have the luxury of allowing more negative in.
Your assignment should not consume all your spare time. You are allowed one venting session – one chance to get it all out there to whoever. After one, you are officially complaining. No one likes a complainer. (Talking mostly to myself here.) I highly recommend your best friend in this specific scenario – who may or may not be the same as your tribe mentioned earlier. I always know that I am venting when I have talked for about 10 – 15 straight minutes, and my sister just sits silently and lets me get it all out. Then she says a few pacifying words – sometimes truly inspirational, sometimes “I cannot believe that terrible, awful person did that to you” – and masterfully changes the subject to something else unrelated. We talk about goals and aspirations. We talk about purpose. We stop obsessing over the assignment…because being positive requires rest. You cannot spend time in the negative environment to then leave and dwell on the negative environment. Rest is absolutely essential. And yes, sometimes to rest, you need to get it all out, but once it is all out, let it rest so that you can rest.
I had a list of other suggestions for you including prayer, devotion, and play. I wanted to talk about coffee dates and self care dates. I was going to mention that you may look back and remember why you started. Yet, being positive takes place in phases. You are an ordinary person charged with an extraordinary mountain…
Instead, I will end where I began and admit that you cannot always walk away because the job is not always done. When your assignment is not over, I challenge you to look at your who. Who is in your tribe? Who needs to be left out? Who inspires you? Who lets you vent? Who motivates you to keep going for your goals, your dreams, and your purpose? Who is the reason you stopped talking about work at home?
When you find that you cannot be positive in the midst of your negative, when you find your environment has taken over, step back and look out at your who. Then, look up at your Who. Your who has everything to do with your how. Your Who is your how.
What are some ways that you have learned to be positive in a negative environment?
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