Have you been around someone for a day or so, and felt wrung out, depleted, and testy? That is what happens to me when I am around a negative friend for any length of time. Knowing what’s in store, I carefully prepare myself ahead of time. I resolve not to get pulled into negative statements by trying to counteracting them, to be cheerful, to change the subject when one starts dragging in the mud, and look and move the conversation to things that interest my friend. I even resort to compliments (true ones, of course) that will make him feel light-hearted. Some times it works for me, and sometimes I get really, really testy. Little has changed him into a positive person; I think he will have to do that himself.
One day I asked him how he developed his pattern of thinking and speaking in childhood? He didn’t know what I was talking about, or he pretended not to know. I suspect he leaned that pattern from his mother who was always complaining, or being exuberant intermittently. Her mother before her was usually negative, and made life miserable for others around her. Ah, those habits we pass down as a heritage to our children…
I really care about my friend, and have thought about ways to help him. I’m not sure he thinks it is a problem, but he is thinking about getting married, and I know that it will be a problem in a marriage. (Unless she is a negative person, and then I will avoid being around either of them for any length of time.) There has been research done on the effects of negative thoughts and words on a person’s physical and mental health. Dr. Carolyn Leaf, a leading cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in neuropsychotherapy has written some excellent books dealing with this topic.
The Bible also has several versus on this subject, one of which is, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” (1 Peter 3:11) That last sentence is interesting. How does a person search for peace? I think it must start in the thoughts. I have learned how to capture my thoughts and see where they are coming from. Is it an attitude learned from others, or do I really believe it? Many of our thoughts are from childhood and play like tapes in our heads years later. Some thoughts are the result of unresolved bitterness and unforgiveness. Those can really make one sick. They are usually helped along by the spiritual enemy. Ever had a thought that was particularly gross to the point you didn’t think it would come from you? Most likely it didn’t. Those thoughts you can command in the name of Jesus to get away from your mind. Period. Done. Stand against them.
“Search for peace, and work to maintain it.” Can you imagine feeling negative and down while you are counting your blessings? Try it. It just doesn’t work. That is why practicing gratitude is so important. During those times you have a free moment to think, like driving to the grocery store, etc., make a mental list of what you are grateful for that day. Do it often. Same thing with prayer. It will block negative thoughts, and it is always nice to have a chat with the Father. And I pray for my friend.
“Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” – Proverbs 16:24.
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14.