As I was thinking about colleges and applying to them, I had to think long and hard about who I am, what I wanted in life and how I was planning to get there. These SOPs I tell you! But it gave me the opportunity to evaluate my current self and if it was in line with who I want to be. One of the things I’ve been consciously trying to improve about myself is negativity. I had the tendency to think negatively about situations, people and myself. I knew this about myself for a long time but it was so ingrained in me that it was hard to fight it. But a year ago or so I saw somebody post one of those inspirational quotes online that went something like “Cut out the negative people in your life.” As I read that I thought about the person who had posted it and saw how he had cut out the negative people from his life and how well he was doing both personally and professionally. But what was a bigger eye opener for me was, as I read it I realized that I was a negative person so I should be cut out from people’s lives. I couldn’t stand the thought of being the person who brought poison to someone’s life. Let’s pause this for now and talk about a related topic – Self Worth.
Growing up, I was a stubborn, headstrong and arrogant person. When I look back and think about why I was like that, I believe it was because in the environment I grew up in it was easy for me to stand out, stand tall and outshine others. It was only when I started my first job after college that I realized I wasn’t naturally the best even by a long shot. I went from an environment of seemingly average people to an environment filled with exceptional people, many from top tier and Ivy league colleges, or from Fortune 500 companies. I remember thinking to myself one day “I’m not smart enough.” And that one thought made it so easy for me to spiral downwards and hit rock bottom when I was 21 years old. But it was a good opportunity to rethink a lot of things and I realized that for all these years my self-worth was relative to others. My own self-worth did not come from within myself. It did not come from what did; it came from how much better I did than others. If I was better it meant I was smarter, prettier, more talented, more loved. The foundation of my belief in myself was weak which is why it was so easy to come crashing down. I think that my negativity towards others also stemmed from this. If someone was better than me at something, especially something that I thought was ‘my territory’, I would pick out fault in that person and negative feelings would surface every time I’d see anything related to them social media. Now that I think about it, I’m appalled at how much energy I wasted by thinking this way.
But life is a constant endeavour to become your best self. So as a part of my new year resolution of rising above my inferiority complex and better mental health in general, I decided to cut out the negativity within me. One of the first things I tackled in this regard was gossiping / talking / bitching about people. Especially about people I had a self-imposed, one-sided competition with. I was not only being negative, I was also spreading negativity. So except sometimes with my besties, I don’t talk to anyone about other people negatively. As in, in the flow of the conversation I may ask about what’s been up with person X and if others ask me about someone else, I tell them what I know (if it is meant to be public knowledge.) But I’ve refrained from gossiping. And I love it. I love how I feel when the moment of weakness passes without me acting on it. It’s difficult. It’s very very difficult to shed such an old habit and it will take a little longer to fully get over it.
Not talking about others to others is just a starting point. The next action to correct is thinking negatively. As soon as you hear something and think a negative thought, you have a problem. Even though I still get enraged or annoyed quickly, I now double-back as soon as I can. I force myself to get a grip on myself. I tell myself that I don’t know the full story of whatever happened, I know only a small snippet of it and that’s not enough to make a judgement or lose my cool. And this has really helped, but again there’s a long way to go.