Friday, February 11, 2011

Looking for a Bridge Over Troubled Waters

I was chatting with Kristen Tews on a recent radio interview of Personal Best ( or set your radio dial to WKRS 1220 if you live in the Chicago area) and we discussed the importance of having good and supportive friends.

When we are facing difficulties, such as loss of a job, a natural tendency is to find someone to commiserate with. “Misery loves company” is not only an old saying, it seems that a lot of folks turn to this as deep wisdom. Unfortunately, that advice (for lack of a kinder word) sucks.

I would like to offer this analogy. If you abandoned a sinking ship and climbed aboard a life raft that was also sinking, are you going to swim to a life raft that also has a hole in it, or are you going to climb aboard one that is more seaworthy?
Negativity is like a cold – it’s contagious. When your mood is down it is best to find someone who will elevate your mood, not hold your hand while you sink to the bottom. While it can sometimes be comforting to know that others face similar problems, it is more productive to learn how someone who endured a similar problem and OVERCAME it.

In our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, the importance of mentors and good friends are key components in erasing negativity. Here is an excerpt on choosing good friends and mentors.

When evaluating friendships ask yourself the following questions:

“Does the person display good qualities such as honesty, integrity and consideration?”

“Are they selfish and self serving?”

All friendships experience a give and take of needs, but if you find you are the one doing all the giving, especially in the beginning of the friendship, it is best to step back and access the situation carefully. Often good-hearted individuals get sucked into an unhealthy alliance with a charismatic friend. Unfortunately, most of these individuals have learned to prey upon the kindness of others and are only interested in what they can take – be it time, money or favors. It is better to walk away from these people right away before you get emotionally involved.
“Do they talk critically about others behind their backs?” If so, chances are they will do the same about you.

“Are they cheerful or cynical?”

Not everyone can be genial all the time, but someone who is consistently cynical operates on a lower vibration energetically, and if you spend a great deal of time with them your mood will be affected.

“Are they trustworthy and loyal?”

Remember that one’s actions speak louder than words. If a person says they are loyal, but demonstrates qualities that show they are otherwise, consider the actions, not what they say as the true barometer of their character.
Tammy D’Antonio, one of the individuals interviewed in Chapter 4 of Erase Negativity, outlined the following goals to help improve her financial situation:

1.Set goals.
2.State your intention.
3.Take action.
4.Have faith.
5.Always keep moving.
6.Never be defeated.
7.Always strive for something bigger than you!
8.Have humility.

Rather than engaging in the “misery loves company” mindset, Tammy suggests the following to keep an optimistic and empowering viewpoint:

•Set goals, write them down and review them every day.
•Seek out positive role models.
•Substitute negative behavior (such as watching television or depressing movies) and replace it with a few minutes of reading motivational books, listening to motivational tapes, or attending inspirational meetings or events.

Additional tips can be found throughout Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. The bottom line is sympathy may seem comforting, but it is rarely the call to action that is needed to overcome difficulties. When I was a little girl and asked my father for sympathy (usually after a poor performance in sports) he’d always say, “You know where you’ll find sympathy in the dictionary? Between sh** and syphilis.”

Not exactly poetry, but dear old dad had a point. When you are in a sinking ship, don’t whine with the doomed, align yourself with those who have learned how to stay afloat. And once you have mastered that, be sure to be a lighthouse so you can guide others who are trying to find their way through troubled waters.

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