Balancing the Negatives

Life is hard. Everyone knows this, right? Somehow, with the advent and expansion of social media, it’s actually become harder. Every day of our lives, we’re bombarded with information – some repetitive, some fresh and interesting. On the whole, the time we spend mindlessly scrolling through this data is when we’re lacking in external inspiration and therefore, emotionally at our most absorbent but with the least filters. Unfortunately, this means we are unlikely to compute the pertinent facts in a way most conducive to alleviating the tedium. Instead, it has an adverse effect.

We are frequently assured throughout life – via friends and family, as well as motivational quotes set against rainbows and unicorns – that one bad word counts for nothing when offset by a million positive ones. Yet, it’s these bad words that set the precedent for our wholly steadfast self-opinions.

How crap is that? During times of extreme stress or difficulty, the people who love us the most are unfalteringly by our side. They provide a unique support system on the basis they know us in ways no one else possibly can. In some cases, they quite possibly go out of their remit to find solutions to seemingly unsolvable issues. They take the time to offer gentle, encouraging words or displays of affection and reassurance, even if these are unpredictably shunned. Quite simply, they offer unconditional love. Unreservedly so.

There’s no doubt we listen. And we are capable of believing that, in spite of everything we’ve previously known, there may actually be some credibility behind the sentiments. But the fact remains that, when we’re made to feel shit about ourselves, that’s all we understand.

If you open a door with a smile and hypothetically stick ten people on the other side of it, asking them if you are a polite person, chances are, nine will say yes and one (just to be obstinate) will say no. You’ll probably leave with a bit of warm and fuzzy in your tummy, but by the time you open your front door and let yourself in the safety of your home, you’ll be questioning that one, negative opinion. And it will gnaw away at you until three weeks later, when someone accidentally barges into you in Tesco, you’ll apologise profusely and still walk away feeling like it was your fault. Because the negative emotions seem to hold all the power.

Why is this? Are we living in a society that programs us to spot the bad in someone before the good? With so much of life being readily available via modern technology, are we inviting in too negative a portrayal of the world? The media concocts stories about health, for example, that are often heavily biased towards the worst case scenario, instead of representing facts with a more hopeful spin. We become afraid to look at or read anything that may potentially help us, for fear of being told life ends here.

I don’t need to state the obvious – suffice to say, war is bad and on the whole, people prefer peace. Someone might swing around a dog by the throat one day, but a thousand others tirelessly save injured or homeless animals on another. The news doesn’t have to be so bleak, yet striking a balance seems impossible. It’s evidently widely accepted by the media that shock, fear and sadness on a minuscule scale sells stories over widespread goodness. It doesn’t take a head full of brains to work out that, actually, the opposite is probably true.

So many are quick to complain about the state of the world, though and not so hot-to-trot when it comes to making a stand. In fairness, one person WOULD struggle to make a positive difference – lots of one persons would make for one hefty army. Strangely enough, the human condition is spurred on by acts of kindness. But the odd, sporadic one won’t ever seal the deal – society needs people en masse to self-perpetuate what’s moral and just. No one has the right to complain if they’re not prepared to commit to the cause.

So, what IS the reason we become attuned to closing our ears to the positive words? One person’s words, once a day cannot make a difference? Nine people’s words are not enough either? Is it too easy to accept that a negative opinion is closest to the truth on the grounds that it’s contentious to speak it? Why can’t we accept that being positive is far more truthful? That maybe, just maybe, the vast majority of people are kind and honest with no motive whatsoever?

If the positive messages of support are what makes your heartstrings twang with a shred of happiness, even for a fleeting moment, it was all worth it, surely? Hang onto that feeling and it will emanate throughout the daily lives of your immediate loved ones, to bounce off in all kinds of untold directions. Perpetuate the positives and with enough backing, the negativity could dissipate altogether. Ultimately, if you feel shit and someone reminds you how wonderful you are, take it for what it is – honesty in the face of adversity; carried on the back of unconditional love.

Learning to love

There is something I have always inherently struggled with:

‘If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you?’

I grasp the general concept and the delightfully positive spin, but am not entirely convinced that many people actually even understand themselves, let alone love what they know. Yes, anyone can like what they stand for on any given day and, if they are exceptionally fortunate, they may even carry this with them for an entire lifetime. But isn’t every single day of life just the start of something incredible? There is surely a lesson to be learned on any one of these days… a potentially dramatic shift in what we were raised to consider the truth. And to love yourself based on who you have become on any given day is quite a tall order in my book. Continue reading Learning to love

Pieces of mind

So, people are talking about the importance of talking about mental health. In truth, I reckon well over half of these people wouldn’t be as forthcoming when it came to their own state of mind. It’s one of those topics that naturally make us feel out of our personal comfort zone. But that’s understandable, right?

We walk around with our physical bodies on display (this is fraught with its own issues) and present ourselves to one another on a daily basis. We use our voices, gestures and facial expressions to express our basic needs and desires to others, minute by minute. But, like the proverbial iceberg, there is over 90% of what makes us who we are that remains unseen. We release snippets of ourselves as circumstances arise and we can create absolutely any version of us at whim. Our minds are the one aspect of our existence of which we are the only ones in control. And most of the time, we aren’t entirely sure we understand it all. So, it’s a fair assumption that opening up that dusty old encyclopaedia and, god forbid, allowing someone else to explore the periphery is never going to be easy. Continue reading Pieces of mind

Chasing happy

Amidst the plethora of profoundly-captioned, prophetic images doing the rounds, I’ve spotted a simpler wish a few times now. ‘All I want in 2013 is to be happy’. Call me cynical, but it’s kind of a given, isn’t it? I mean, who honestly likes being angry, miserable, heartbroken, unwell or weary? It’s exhausting! But, nonetheless, it got me to thinking… are we just aiming too darn high? Is our broad expectation from life that happy is right and anything short of happy is wrong? Although this is a beautifully rose-tinted idyll, it’s pretty unrealistic, don’t you think? If plummeting to an extreme low is considered ‘rock bottom’ then surely hitting the pinnacle of elation is equally off-balance. Continue reading Chasing happy

Appearance *is* everything

So, this is doing the rounds, in my case, on its second revolution of Facebook, courtesy of the very lovely and talented Caroline Smailes. I love these kind of posts and they honestly keep me sane on a Monday, Tuesday… you get the drift.

Whilst I find it hilarious, I also can’t help but cringe a little – because that’s exactly what I do. I know, I know, so do scores of other, irrational and mildly body-dysmorphic souls. And it’s fair to say that I spend more than a tiny amount of my existence championing the larger, curvier figure (in both sexes). But still, there’s that innate sense of needing to make yourself comply with the ‘norm’ and perhaps, appear a little more, let’s say, polished, for the social media masses – friends or otherwise. Continue reading Appearance *is* everything

Fat chance

I’ve never been and will never be a skinny girl. Even at my skinniest, aged eight, most kids were way skinnier than me. Growing up, my best friend was definitely a skinny girl. When I filled out, she grew taller and every boy I ever fancied was into her. Entering adulthood, every third bloke along the street undressed her with their eyes. She pretended not to notice, but she knew. I think she felt a bit sorry for me, pitied me even.

I vividly recall two occasions. The first was when we were in a popular, trendy bar in town on its busiest night. Wall to wall with punters who thought they were better than everyone else – because, on the whole, that’s what it was like in our town. I stepped backwards and accidentally trod on someone’s toe and as I turned to apologise, I was met with a hostile glare and a disdainful bark, ‘Watch it, you fat bitch’. She was neither common nor pissed. On the spot, it cracked my heart in the same way clunking two glazed china plates together causes permanent weakness. Continue reading Fat chance

From zero to 100rpm

Today, there are words. One hundred of them, published. And I feel completely overwhelmed. Please read this wonderful post to find out why.

And as if one hundred weren’t quite enough, I’ve dug deep and unearthed some more for you. Plus, I have an unexpected window, having wrapped all my soon-to-be-five-year-old’s pressies for tomorrow.

Newly published ‘for charity’ eBook 100rpm is basically 100 tales of 100 words or fewer, all inspired by music from YouTube, nurtured by the fabulous author Caroline Smailes and resplendent with a foreword from the mighty Nik Kershaw. Available here and with all proceeds being donated to One in Four, supporting victims of sexual violence or abuse, I hope you’ll agree that this has been an incredible project from beginning to end. Continue reading From zero to 100rpm

Happy Flash Fiction Day!

Here’s mine:

Apples

Rosey pulled on her rubber gloves and plunged her hands into the sud-filled sink of hot water. As she began the mammoth task of this evening’s dishes, she absentmindedly stared through the kitchen window, her glazed expression finally falling into focus on the far right corner of the lawn, where several bruised and battered apples lay. It was apple carnage. Although commonplace for this time of year, Rosey’s eye twitched as her OCD-like inner clean-freak snapped to attention. She silently self-scolded – one job at a time.

Three clean plates later, Rosey’s mind returned to the stray, fallen apples. As she glanced down at the slightly emptier sink, she wished she was less like her busy, fussy, irritating mother and more like her laid-back, placid father. She just knew he would long outlive his highly-strung wife, defying the odds and Rosey had a horrid, niggling feeling he may well also outlive his only daughter. Thoughts banished, washing-up resumed, dead apples to-do. Continue reading Happy Flash Fiction Day!

Happy New Something-or-Other!

It’s fair to say I’ve been an utterly inconsistent blogger in 2011.  Oooh, I quite like the way that rolls off the tongue, like a modern-day insult.  Feel most free…!  Because I reckon I can take it a whole lot better, as 2012 appears on the horizon in another part of the world.

I’ve been battling with a few mini-demons in recent months – nothing major in the grand scheme, but enough to ensure my complete inability to keep those infernal juggling balls aloft.  I like to BE organised and therein lies the problem… I’m just not very good at it.  At least, not without breaking out in a heavy sweat and appearing frazzled to cinders. Continue reading Happy New Something-or-Other!

Weary of the written word

Wow… it’s been a long time. So long, in fact, that I had to request a new password to login, having forgotten my old one. I’m doing this now whilst I have an unexpected window. I should be editing photos from a recent shoot, but the program has crashed on me twice and I’ve lost my work so I’m waiting for the geek to arrive home with his repair kit. AKA his brain.

Life seems frenetic. My brain seems overloaded. I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that my ability to cope is lesser than most. Yes, the Second Born is hard work, but the straw on this occasion is small, furry, black and white and has a disproportionately long tail. Often to his detriment, as he does enjoy getting under my feet when I’m in a rush. And frankly, I DO feel like a camel with a broken back. Continue reading Weary of the written word

Opening up, towards the sunshine