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  • Writer's picturepamradtkerussell

Giving Up the Black Cloud of Negativity

I recently was enjoying a quiet night at home, seated on the couch, about to open a book when, “BEEP BEEP …… BEEP BEEP….. BEEP BEEP.”

The fire alarm battery, again.

I thought to myself, “why does this ALWAYS happen when I’m at the house (as opposed to the alternate weeks when my ex is here).” I started cursing in my head and grumbling to myself. I tried to ignore it, but it was right there, “BEEP BEEP …… BEEP BEEP….. BEEP BEEP.”

So, I went downstairs to get the ladder, fuming the whole time. A black cloud of anger hovered over me. As I lifted the ladder off the hooks, the ladder became unbalanced and it swung toward me, hitting my forehead. Grumble grumble grumble. I stumbled and almost lost my footing.

Then I carried the 6-foot ladder through the maze of different level doorways that lead back upstairs, trying and failing a few times to get the angles right. Finally, I made it upstairs and propped the ladder against the wall. It began falling sideways.


And then I stopped.

I collected myself and took a few deep breaths. I realized what was happening. I had given into pity, was feeling sorry for myself and I had become a magnet of negativity.

I was making this task more difficult because I had gotten stuck in a negative thought loop. I was paying attention to my negative thoughts—that were increasing by the second—rather than the simple task at hand, leading to me tripping, stumbling and hitting myself in the forehead.

I stopped and let go of the negative emotions swirling in my head. I changed my mindset.

I looked at the task as something to be done, not as something that was happening to me.

I took a (few more) deep breaths and set up the ladder, climbed up to the fire alarm and pulled it off the ceiling. It fell to the ground, I had a hard time finding and then replacing the battery, but I did it. I managed to fold the ladder up, and maneuver it downstairs without tripping, hitting myself or scraping up the walls.

The task itself wasn’t any less difficult, but because my thoughts were neutral, it required much less effort and, most importantly, I had given up my anger.

I recently heard about a study that revealed how accounting auditors who are trained to look for mistakes at work often take that attitude home with them, constantly looking for what’s wrong. I know, as a a daily news editor, I often did the same.

Through meditation and a growing self awareness I realized how a negative mindset had become my default. It was always someone else’s fault, or if there was no one to blame, the general “universe” would do.

Now, I know it all boils down to an acceptance of what is happening. People, or the universe, aren't out to get me.

I realize overcoming negative thoughts doesn’t work for all people and in all situations. But sometimes it does.

While I still, almost daily, fall into a “why me” mode, I now usually recognize the pattern and shift back into neutral. So much of what happens in life is no one’s fault – not even my own.

How I think about those things, however, is completely up to me.

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