Author: Liza Borstlap
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
I have often been fascinated by people’s perspectives; the fact that two people can look at the same thing or event and experience totally opposite emotions.
I have seen siblings growing up in the same environment where one is adversely affected by something and the other continues with life as if nothing has happened.
I have seen people living in dire circumstances that encourage others that live in luxury.
I have seen people excel despite harrowing experiences.
I have seen the suffering of those living in close proximity to negative people and the ripple effect that it has on the spiritual temperature of a home.
I have often wondered if a person is born with a tendency to have a positive or a negative attitude.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Winston S. Churchill
“A negative attitude is a disposition, feeling, or manner that is not constructive, cooperative, or optimistic.1”
I believe in the truth that I see in people’s eyes.
I believe that you can see what they think about you long before they say anything.
I have seen daggers flying in beautiful brown eyes.
I have seen naked hatred in shades of blue, and I have seen unfiltered love in green-speckled eyes.
It is difficult to hide an adverse attitude when your heart is reflected in your eyes.
“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
Roy T. Benett
I grew up with a mother that suffered from depression and I know that she oftentimes felt completely overwhelmed by life. I remember many days when I would try to cheer her up, make her see beauty, force-feed her with my own positivity.
It didn’t work.
“We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you … we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Charles R. Swindoll
I still try to understand negativity without becoming judgmental. I sometimes battle to have compassion for negative thinkers that are so self-absorbed in their own suffering that they don’t see their impact on those around them.
I often felt guilty when I was able to enjoy my life while I saw my mother suffering and I must admit that I tried to disconnect from my reality by seeking refuge in music and books. I realised that she couldn’t influence the way I saw life and that is where my compassion started to grow…
I realised that her negativity couldn’t rub off on me.
Looking back on my life, I am grateful for the complicated being that I called mom. She encouraged me to be creative; to work with my hands. She inspired me to decorate my room as I wished. She taught me to beautify my surroundings. When she engaged with me, she did so with zest and enthusiasm. It somehow made it more bearable for the times when I ‘lost’ her to her depression.
This brings me right back to my original thought.
Is a person born with a tendency towards positivity?
I learned early on in life that I was responsible for my own mental and behavioural landscape. I had to choose my own attitude despite adverse circumstances. I found ways to cope when I couldn’t make sense of my surroundings. Music, specifically Beethoven, helped me to stabilise my tumultuous emotions.
Once I really got to the point where I understood that happiness came from the inside and that it was not connected to outside events, I could look adversity in the eye and I could laugh when life derailed.
We do not always get what we want.
I learned that there is grace in falling down and getting up, no matter how many times this happens.
God is faithful.
He works despite our circumstances.
He can help us to be happy even when we have nothing.
He can contain our well-being even when other people’s negativity wants to bring us down.
“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”
“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.”
The fact that I was able to pull myself into a sacred, tranquil space could have made me critical and judgmental towards others who didn’t have the ability to do this. It is painful to see the contamination of negative thoughts, and I often feel helpless when I am confronted by negative behaviour.
Closer to my heart, I have to admit that I have also experienced periods in my own life where it was extremely difficult to control my own thoughts. The battle of the mind is so real that it is impossible not to be affected by negative thoughts. Still, by the grace of God, these moments have helped me to think about solutions and possible outcomes.
I will never fully understand the internal war that rages on in some people’s minds. I do, however, cherish the fact that God blessed me with a positive outlook on life and that by His grace I can work to ensure that the people I meet are influenced to seek for the light at the end of the tunnel.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5 NIV-1984)
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds.” (Ephesians 4:22 NIV-1984)
“For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV)
Our attitude should be patience, thankfulness, persevering, believing. (Rom. 8:28, Gal. 1:9)
Our attitude should be humility, submission to God, prayerful, confident in God’s fairness. (Psa. 62:5, Jer. 17:5, Deut. 32:4, Job 13:15, Rom. 8:28)
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
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