Prioritizing Your Well-Being: Positivity
By Estefania Lopez, M.S.
As part of my own personal development I have recently taken several steps to prioritizing my own well-being. Perhaps the most impactful decision I made was to stop tolerating negative people in my life. This type of decision – “focusing on the positive” –receives a lot of attention in social media and is widely promoted. Every day it seems I come across at least one “good vibes” or “positive energy” post. However, I believe many people don’t truly understand the power of eliminating negativity from one’s life and skills required to prioritizing their personal well-being.
Observing and Discovering
I observed my daily life and quickly realized I had been oblivious to a big stressor. Through my work at OWLS, I had participated in numerous well-being trainings and made significant progress in addressing my daily stressors. But I still had a blind spot in my own well-being journey. I turned my observation up a notch to actively pin-point daily sources of stress. It was then that I noticed some individuals who often left me feeling drained, tired or annoyed. These individuals had dampened my mood for various reasons such as constantly being pessimistic, critical, or rude.
Now, I’m not saying these people were “bad” because they weren’t. Put simply, they were good people with an outlook that did not mirror my own. Some would consistently be pessimistic about events, others would gossip and criticize others, and others would just be rude and mask it as humor. While I had several good memories with many of these people, their negative behavior could ruin my mood for a whole day. With everything that goes on in my daily life I often overlooked these individuals as the source of my stress and attributed my emotions to other events.
Take-Away #1: Observe. Take time out of your day to observe and reflect on your “early stress warning signs” (a tool discussed in Raw Coping Power, and taught in our Resilience & Thriving training and coach programs).
Take-Away #2: Emotions Rule. You may think you know about your own well-being, but it always pays to listen to your emotions. I could not put my finger on what was bothering me. Human beings are learning organisms. It is exciting to continue to learn more about oneself by continuously practicing self-reflection and assessing emotional well-being.
Connecting Two Pieces
Additionally, I couldn’t understand why behaviors of certain people would bother me so much, because let’s face it, everything will not always be positive and I understood that. But negative words stuck with me more than I wished they would.
This continued to puzzle me until everything came together with an “AHA!” moment. As another part of my personal development I took the Clifton Strengths Finder and found out that my top third strength was Positivity. This means I am optimistic, hopeful and fun-loving. It also meant that negative people deplete my energy; therefore, results recommended that I surround myself with other positive individuals.
All this occurred during a workshop I had the pleasure of participating in, “Aligning Leader Strengths and Resilience: Your Resilience Journey” with Dr. Ben Dilla and Dr. Joel Bennett (you can watch an orientation to this full-day workshop here and access the slides). Through this workshop I was able to connect (and expand) my newly found strengths knowledge with my emotional intelligence and resilience expertise. Unlike other workshops, “Aligning” meant I had to look at resilience, Clifton Strengths, and emotional intelligence together, rather than solely focusing on only one.
This deep self-assessment really made me focus on my true potential. I came to realize just how influential positivity is to my overall well-being and resilience. I decided to act and proactively prioritize my well-being by removing the individuals who were negatively impacting me from my life.
Take-Away #3: Know Your Strengths. There is no single “silver-bullet” for personal development. I think it helps to compile different self-assessment data from diverse sources and look for alignments. This is especially so for knowing your strengths. It can be inspiring.
Even though I was inspired and motivated, setting “healthy boundaries” is still a skill. Communicating my new boundary was easier said than done. Deciding to distance myself from individuals who were negatively impacting my mood came with some personal feelings of guilt. Why though?
Sometimes, Self-Care Feels Unnatural
I was taking care of myself; I should feel relieved not guilty. It took a significant amount of personal reflection to understand why I was experiencing this guilt. Eventually, I realized that I take a lot of pride in being welcoming and accepting of diverse groups of people. I strive to remain open-minded and accept differences; therefore, I felt guilty about removing individuals from my daily life because in my eyes, that contradicted my acceptance of others. This realization was very hard to grasp and took a long time to fully understand as it became an internal battle I struggled with.
I made an effort to consistently remind myself that I was worthy of feeling at peace. I had to remind myself that my own well-being should be my priority and I should not be ashamed of putting myself first. These efforts of mine are still a work in progress but I am now more fine-tuned to the people I surround myself with. I am able to acknowledge when someone is depleting my energy and taking away from my peace. There are times when I fail to act on these realizations but I am slowly becoming more confident and that’s all that matters. Since I am no longer spending my energy coping with negative people, I have more energy to do something that matters, love myself.
Take-Away #4: Get Value Aligned. It pays to deeply know what your values are and to discern whether your life is aligned with those values. It became clear that I was bothered because I value welcoming, positive connection, and positivity. What do you value?
Take-Away #5: Trust the Process. This whole post conveys a process – observe stress, listen to your emotions, gather self-assessments, know your values. It is a lifelong process. Trust the process.
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