America, Could I have a word with you?

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Yesterday a gunman opened fire at a Republican baseball practice early Wednesday morning, shooting several attendees. The gunman’s goal was to “rid” the world of the Republican Party leaders. We should all be appalled. We should all pay attention.   What is happening to the home of the Free and the Brave?

As a 4 year old I remember sitting with my parents in the living room as they somberly watched the funeral procession of President Kennedy; that awful act of brutality shook our nation to the core regardless of political persuasion.   My parents were Conservatives and yet I never heard them utter a disparaging word about the President or others in leadership. There was a respect that was healthy in order to have lively disagreements about policies and laws being passed.

I am sad for my grandchildren. I am sad they are living in a day where our country has normalized aggressive, hateful rhetoric. I am sad they are living in a day where it is considered “humor” to hold up the severed head of our President. I am sad that they are living in a day when healthy dialogue and disagreement has been exchanged for screaming, burning flags, breaking windows, and even desiring physical harm to those with whom we differ!

As an adult, an American woman, a Christian, a mother, a daughter, a wife, a businesswoman, and a grandmother I find myself in a constant state of shock by the daily news; I almost have to take gaps of time to simply bury my head in the sand in order to navigate being distracted by behavior that makes me incredibly sad. I have been in prayer for our Country, the leaders on both sides of the aisle, and for those who love our great land. I am confident that God is mindful and able to bring about good change in the lives of anyone who reaches out to Him; but what it our responsibility, America?

We can control what we say and how we say it. We can express our differences with anyone (government, company, team, our kids teachers, coaches, and community/church members) with respect, clarity, and the ability to listen. We have no business playing into the harsh rhetoric of the day, which pours more and more gasoline on fires that are already burning. Frankly, scripture is so so so wise on the impact of our words!

James 3:5-6   “The tongue is a small part of a person’s body, but a tiny spark can seta great forest on fire. Among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

Matthew 12:36-27  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ephesians 4:29 ” Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Whether in Facebook comments, Twitter “tweets”, texts, emails or even in face to face dialogue we must not give ourselves permission to engage in disrespectful, angry tones.  We cannot be people who celebrate a persons hardships or failures; we cannot be  people who mock and laugh those who also call America home.  If we do, we will cease to be the great nation we want to be.

I was in kindergarten when my teacher taught my class of 5 years old children that it was important to “do unto others as we wanted them to do unto us.”  That age-old wisdom still holds true today.  America, let’s stop all the harsh, hateful rhetoric rather let’s set an example for those young eyes that are watching us and will be the next generation.  Let’s change our tone together: not doing so is going to have continued widespread harm.

We are better than that; we are the United States of America.

When it gets Toxic~

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Toxic people defy logic.

According to Travis Bradbury, Co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, ” Toxic people are blissfully unaware  of the negative impact they have on those around them and often times they thrive on creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way they create unnecessary strife and worst of all stress!”

Most people have known or worked with (or are related to) someone who just seems to spread negativity everywhere. Examples include a work associate who constantly complains about how poorly the company is run or a friend who can never seem to see the good in anything (and who never hesitates to tell you all about it). These are the toxic people in your life.

After a conversation with a toxic person, your mood probably will be lower.  Does this bring anyone or any situation to mind?

So how do you spot a toxic person?

Do you know someone who always make brings you down? Think about this person. Is he or she a complainer? Someone who always expects things to go wrong? Someone who constantly finds fault with you and others? Does he or she always seem more cheerful once they’ve gotten their frustrations off their chest and into your ear?

If any one or more of these is true, you likely interacting with a toxic person.

Truly, if that toxic person (people) are family members and friends, it’s likely to be more difficult to avoid challenging interactions altogether. We all rub shoulders with toxic people.  So, we have some choices to make!  Do we allow ourselves to be silent sufferers under the weight of their regular negativity? OR do we learn to navigate them wisely as to protect and preserve our own emotional health and well-being?  If you choose the latter, here are a few tips:

Set limits on time and proximity with a toxic person, have boundaries. – A toxic person wants you to listen to them and often we do because we don’t want to be rude, but there is a fine line between being sympathetic and getting sucked into their emotional vortex.  Travis Bradbury uses the example that “IF the toxic person were smoking would you stay there and breathe in their 2nd hand smoke?  Of course not, we would all find away to excuse ourselves as quickly as possible!! ”  We should use that same urgency with toxic people.

Keep your EQ (ability to rise above) high when interacting with toxic people. – Toxic people tend to be reactive and emotionally irrational. They may have a need to win every verbal battle and find it pleasurable when they can see they’ve brought you down to their level. Rise above!!  Is this really a battleground you want to die on? Is this an argument worth winning? Walk away from the chaos before getting sucked into their negative dialogue.

Don’t let toxic people limit your Joy! – When toxic people see “boats rise”, when they see ongoing success and joy in others they often become opinionated, sarcastic, or just simply negative. Don’t let them steal your joy from you!  That age-old term “consider the source” would apply here!  In times of celebration surround yourself with life-giving people who are for you!! Call in the troops!! But never allow a toxic person to have the power in your life to squelch your joy!

Lastly, be kind. – we all have a story and I have learned one thing to be true about toxic people,  many of them have a mountain of baggage, disappointment, and rejection hooked to their souls like a ball and chain.  YES, we need boundaries, YES, we need to stay out of toxic conversations, and YES we need to not allow them to steal our joy…..but showing grace and kindness may give a toxic person something to ponder.  It’s possible!

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