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Poisonous People

Everyone has them in their lives: the people who just create drama, anxiety, hurt, mild or extreme irritation, and so on in your existence. Many people, myself included, seem to have a doormat written on our foreheads that say ‘welcome;’ we’ve invited that mess in.

One of those messages that I wrote on paper and burned on new year’s eve was to treat myself better–physically, mentally, emotionally–and, thus far, I’ve been doing a decent job. I mean it’s only the third week of the new year. But in light of recent events, I think I need to amp that up. I need to figure out what kind of energy I’m putting out in the atmosphere that says to people–please, come mess with me, stir up my life, create negativity, generate feelings of insecurity, throw me off step, cloud my thoughts with juvenile crap, distract me from what I want and need. Conversely, I need to figure out why I allow any of that mess to consume as much time and energy as I do.

I just moved into a new apartment, effectively eliminating one source of poison with my previous roommate, and I’ve been unpacking stuff all day. I’ve been taking an unusual amount of time to unpack the things that go onto my bookshelves, because I keep stopping and flipping through pages of books and all the old sketch books and scrap books. My interests and talents are vast and varied–between the books about world religions; philosophy; the portuguese, french, and spanish languages; africana studies; social justice issues; biological studies; classic literature; and all of my artwork. Not to mention the case of sheet music sitting in my closet collecting dust along with my violin.

So as I was sitting there going through all those materials, and simultaneously replaying the dumb situations/scenarios that have happened over the last couple of weeks with different people, I stopped and thought–WHY? Why am I wasting my time even replaying the juvenile and inconsiderate antics of some guy when I could instead pull out rosetta stone and brush up on Spanish. Why am I retelling the story of betrayed trust, from someone who has always been kind of a flakey friend, for the umpteenth time when I could be finishing that 5 year old drawing in my sketch book.

I waste an inordinate amount of time on people who aren’t really even thinking about me, at least not any productive way, and that’s time I could spending doing any number of enriching and stimulating activities–working on Bach and Paganini, diving into the thoughts and minds of bell hooks and angela davis, improving my portuguese grammar. This isn’t to say there isn’t a place for working on your personal relationships, working through the rocky ones, and building new ones. But it is to say that there’s a point at which some are just poisonous. Side effects range from mild discomfort, headaches, nausea, anxiety, lethargy, trouble thinking clearly, and trouble sleeping to death from the over-toxicity; the death of your self-esteem, feelings of self-worth, self-respect, happiness, ambitions, and so forth.

So, stop taking the poison. Figure out which ones are worth fighting for, and leave the rest alone.

I think in addition to my fitness challenge I’m going to add a mental health challenge. Every time I find myself replaying some ridiculous past scenario, or start berating myself about some interaction I had with someone that didn’t go well, I’m going to set a 20 minute timer and go get something off of one of the bookshelves and immerse myself in it.

Example #1: *in my head* ‘She is such a —-, what I really should’ve said to her was that she can go straight to —-‘ PAUSE *sets 20 minute timer and picks up the biography of Angela Davis*

Example #2: *in my head* ‘Why can’t he make up his mind, one second he’s inviting me out, the next he’s holding some other chick’s hand right in my face. Maybe there’s something wrong with me.’ PAUSE *sets 20 minute timer, takes out the violin and practices fingered octaves*

Anyway, I’m just being silly now. But you get the point. I’m really going to try and redirect all that anxious, negative, and totally unproductive energy on something else. Maybe by giving myself some space from all those feelings I can think about them a bit more rationally and come up with some productive solutions or next steps as opposed to replaying them over and over.

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