More Heart, Less Attack
This is the title of a song by one of my favourite bands, Needtobreathe, and it’s a reminder we could all do with from time to time. Well, I know I could, anyway.
Day to day, as we’re faced with all sorts of attitudes and experiences, we continually find ourselves standing at a crossroads. What will we do? What will we say? Anything? Nothing? And if we do or don’t, are those the best choices?
It’s so easy to join in when there’s negative conversation. We can find ourselves bringing people down, saying things we’d probably never have the guts to say to that person’s face, if we even truly believe what we’re saying. What we may not realise is that, as a judge brings down his gavel in final judgement, declaring innocence or guilt once and for all, so too do our thoughts, words and actions in certain scenarios. I am far from innocent in this, by the way. As I have observed others say the meanest of things about people, so too have I when I knew better than to open my mouth; certainly, I could have found a way to say something more edifying. But I took the road most travelled.
Words have power, and the more we say and do that doesn’t build people up, the more likely we’re actually harming ourselves. Even if a colleague or family member says or does something that bothers you from time to time, do you think that highlighting it and possibly joining in to conversations about him or her will help anyone? Yes, you might feel a moment of released tension as you vented, saying how so-and-so just “did it again”. But what have you really achieved? Have you built anyone up? Do you feel that you’re a better person now?
Studies have shown that negativity causes stress, which can lead to all manner of health problems. It can also drain you. I know of times I dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. I had to dig deep to find the energy, all because I was struggling with a situation at work, and had nothing good to say about a person. Since then, I chose to focus on common ground: this person was a father. He loves his daughter. Me too! (Twice!) He approaches his work based on his worldview. Me too! As I started to think that way, my energy returned, and I started to feel much better about myself and life in general, even though the difficult circumstances had not actually changed.
We don’t need to wear white lab-coats and conduct extensive research to know that negativity breeds negativity. Thankfully, the opposite is also true. Phew!
So, let me encourage you to change the way you think and speak about yourself, others, and the circumstances in which you find yourself. Find the positive. You might have to dig pretty deep to do so, but when you find it and speak it out, it’ll start to change you, those around you, and possibly even your circumstances.
I’ll close with a verse from the song:
The more you take, the less you have
‘Cause it’s you in the mirror that’s starin’ back
Quick to let go, slow to react
Be more heart and less attack