Rather than burning bridges…

While the year is very young, it is still possible to grasp the moment and endeavor to make some changes in 2014.  A belated resolution, if you will.

Encountering some old wounds over the past few days has brought my attention to an area of my life in which a focus on self-improvement is in order.  The issue is this: how do I set boundaries, and keep them, so that the negative and destructive behaviors of others do not evoke a similar response, or an escalated one, from me?

The typical step one would take is simply to ignore negative people altogether and to go about one’s day-to-day life as if these people do not exist.  There are two problems with this: one, they are still there, and pretending they are not is a practice in self-deception, never a good thing; and two, the attraction to them can be strong because, just maybe, they are the people we want to be close to.

It really comes down to “how do I deal with the inevitable negativity in a way that is not destructive?”  And, hopefully, “how can this powerful force of negativity be redeemed, changed into an enormous strength to build one’s character and to make one wiser?”

Start small

Perhaps, it is best to start small.  We can start by simply noticing the times in which we dwell upon a misspoken word or a fleeting facial expression from others that we convert into a criticism or strong disapproval.  As good as we think we are at knowing the thoughts of others, the fact remains that everyone’s thoughts are his or her own; we do not know them.  To speculate on them, for those who are prone to be self-critical, is to invite a prolonged period of anxiety, and sometimes, even a negative and destructive vocal response, or action, in order to feel that we have evened the score, so to speak.

By starting small, the positive changes can be quite large.  Simply by becoming aware of our own responses to these negative moments, and realizing that our instant interpretation of these actions is likely to be way off base, we allow the relationship to go on unimpeded, and perhaps, to be made stronger.  And, best of all, we are giving the other person a break from the same kind of inner turmoil we place upon ourselves.  And, everyone needs a break!

In time, I believe behaviors can change.  And, given even more time, love can grow from what could have been the ashes of a burned bridge.