There’s a point I never want to return to again. It’s a place everyone knowingly or unknowingly has: their worst negative space. Mine lingers under hundreds of layers of hard work, earned gratitude, and lavish praise. When things go bad, it’s like I instinctively dig through those layers to negativity. Since learning to handle life without inebriation, when things get anxious for me, I remember that I have many layers of positivity still shielding me.
Let’s say on a normal day we have 100 layers of positivity.
Something trivial goes wrong, such as underestimating the time it takes to do something, so you dig down one of those layers. Or let’s say something less trivial happens, like hitting heavy traffic and arriving late: you might dig 10 layers deeper toward your negative space. Positive reinforcement, talking with family or friends, and doing things you enjoy will enable you to back out of that hole. If you’re lucky, the layers repair themselves, otherwise, well…
The deeper you dig, the more wild things become.
That’s when you find yourself yelling at people randomly, holding onto grudges, and acting outrageously. You might find yourself acting without consideration for those you love. You might envision yourself punching someone for a rude infraction, enjoying the full sensations of the act, regardless of the pain it may cause yourself. You begin spiraling out of control. These are all unintentional cries of help for anyone to return you to those upper layers of positivity.
Here’s the secret of digging yourself in this 100-layer deep hole.
It’s infinite. I’ve broken through that 100th layer. I’ve met people that have blown through their 1000th layer and are well past 10,000 layers deep. We have different tolerances. After I passed that 100th layer of pain and regret, I realized enough was enough! I won’t engage in any behavior that will lead me down that path again, even if it means I’m not the coolest person of the bunch or the most open to socialize about certain topics.
The positive side is that it’s easy to repair these layers!
Hold the door open for someone. Let someone else tell you their story of anxiety that day. Offer to help if someone needs a hand. If you need to address a concern, first look at the situation from that person’s perspective, and speak with respect. Be the face of dignity in a world of indifference. Express your appreciation for someone else’s positive behavior. Thank the reader for reading. Encourage others to do the right thing.
Start with even seemingly inconsequential tasks.
I’ve found ending emails with genuine expressions of appreciation always help me feel better. They may feel better and I certainly know I feel better for having considered their time. Even something as simple as placing dishes and utensils in easily retrievable areas at restaurants may silently leave me feeling just a little better than if I hadn’t. These are small acts of gratitude go far.
Because when you’re unintentionally digging toward your worst negative space, anything helps!