Thursday, April 24, 2014

How To Change Your Negative Environment

About two years ago, my thoughts, words, and spirit were going down a negative road.

When I was completely fed up and devastated, I made the decision to put God first in my life and change my outlook on living. My initial attempts were unsuccessful. Why? The answer’s simple: I had not changed my surroundings. I said I wanted to think more positively yet I was still hanging around the same friends that were thinking and saying negative things about their lives and other people (and I joined in). I was watching reality television shows (i.e. Basketball Wives, Love & Hip Hop, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, etc) where young women were constantly fighting, insulting, and negatively harming each other. I kept up with online websites and blogs daily that were filled with negative viewer comments about celebrities and people in the world. Now how could I have expected to change my negative disposition when I allowed myself to be over-saturated with all this negativity?

I couldn't.

I realized shortly after that if I really wanted to change my internal being I had to start off by changing MY EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT. (I wrote a recent post about the effects of your environment on your well-being - What Does Your Environment Look Like?) I gradually stopped hanging out with those friends; I gradually stopped watching those chaos-driven reality shows (and the other shows that glorified violence and sex, which I loved); and I gradually stopped visiting those vicious gossip websites. The key word here is GRADUALLY.

It does not just happen overnight.

Don't be discouraged if you find it impossible to let go of it all - I had my disheartening days. You see all those things were addictive and I learned later on that I had to tackle them one at a time. If I normally sent texts or called my friends 10 times a day, I started doing so only 3-4 times a day. If I watched several of those spiritually-depleting shows a week, I started by avoiding 1-2 of them a week. If I normally visited 4 gossip sites a day I started by only looking at 1-2 a day. As time passed by and I got used to the drop in number, I found it easier to drop more and more of them. 

Then I had another problem.

As I cut down more and more of the negative influences in my life, I started feeling emptiness within myself and I started yearning for them back! Why? I had made a classic mistake in changing my environment:

I had removed negative energy when I should have replaced it with positive energy.

You see cutting out negativity helps to improve your life for a little while but it will not last if you do not use positivity to fill back up the hole you've created. The good news is that if you spend your life re-focused on your personal development and the edification of your soul, you will introduce new positive habits and behaviors into your life that will keep you productive and make it easier for you to think less of the harmful things you let go.

Once I understood this, I began filling that spiritual hole and free time I had opened up with spiritual/personal development books, shows, and videos on YouTube and on television. I started reading books and blogs from authors like Cornelius & Heather Lindsey, Rick Warren, Dr. Maya Angelou, Seth Godin, Brene Brown, Simon Sinek, and more. I started watching more motivational and productivity videos on YouTube by Joel Osteen, Teej Mercer, Marie Forleo, Jonathan Fields, and more. As you might guess, my mind and spirit shifted to new and heightened levels of positivity, as well as productivity (this does not mean I never have negative and unproductive thoughts/feelings; it means I have less of them, the feelings don't last as long as they did before, and I don't indulge them and let them determine my actions as much I did before).

The same can happen for you too.

What is the negative addiction in your environment that you’re trying to cut down on? Is it negative chatter and gossip with friends? Stop hanging around them so much. Don’t end it there. Start looking for communities in your area (or online) of people that promote and encourage what you believe in. Is it excessive drinking and/or random weekend hookups? Stop going to all those club events, house parties, and bars you’re asked to. (Let's not forget the porn.) Don’t end it there. Start picking up books (or audio books, if you prefer) and attend classes/workshops that help you develop your skills in your specific field of work and others that, most importantly, strengthen your faith. Whatever your negative addiction is, the two steps to overcoming it (after you have made the choice to let it go) will still be the same:

1. Avoid occasions and situations (environment) that encourage you to indulge in your addiction (Think of it like a recovering alcoholic who still hangs out in bars every night after work; you’re practically begging for trouble)

2. Replace the negative agents in your environment with positive ones – people, books, television shows, videos, activities, etc.

It's as simple and as difficult as that/:

p.s. If you enjoyed this post and want more like it, make sure to share it with your friends and let me know in the comments section below lovelies. If you don't agree and have another opinion to share, drop a comment as well; I'd love to know what you're thinking:) If you prefer social media, you can also stay in touch with me via Twitter or Google+ - I can't wait to hear from you!
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  1. I am happy to find your distinguished way of writing the post. Now you make it easy for me to understand and implement the concept. Thank you for the post.


  2. Reading this makes me smile. Some of my family calls me bold and boing because I don't go on YouTube and watch girls shaking they behinds over the internet or I'm sleep cause I don't watch the first 48 and snapped. It channels my spirit to lowliness I don't like to feel low. I have high standards and feeling low is the ultimate opposite of what I stand for. If I ts not taking me anywhere I go elsewhere

    1. It's great that you know when your spirit is brought down and you avoid situations that promote that. It is not easy making different choices from others, especially when it is those you love the most, but it is important to focus on what lifts your spirit up in God and not what depresses it.

  3. Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.


  4. love it. tks... for tips... learnt to love myself recognise i am worthly to be alive

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