We live in a world filled with negativity – bad news sells and travels faster than good news. Sometimes, people unconsciously go looking for bad news. The headlines of newspapers and TV breaking news are usually littered with news of accidents, deaths, scandals, and just name anything negative. It is a fact that newspapers sell out faster when they are headlined with bad news. I have learnt to consciously watch what I listen to or pay attention to. We all need to mindful about what we give our attention, because whatever gets your attention gets you.
The danger with constant exposure to negativity is enormous. Apart from the psychological effect it has on us, it creates pessimism, drains us of energy and initiative, creates stress, anxiety and depression. For these reasons, I always try to stay immune from negativity by shutting out every avenue of inflow of negative news or information as much as possible. How do you deal with negativity? How do you rise above the limitations that these negative influences have had in your life? I will attempt to provide some insights from my experience.
Please follow me to a story in the Bible from the book of Genesis about Abram. In Gen 12, God called him to leave his father’s house and embark on journey that would define his destiny. Verse 1 reads: “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you” A few things stand out from this verse:
- Separation and breakaway from comfort zone or familiar terrain. A lot of struggle to break away from what we are used to, even when it is not the best for us, we tend to resist change. We want to maintain status quo at all cost. We dread the feeling and sacrifice that comes with taking on a new venture, beginning a new career, starting a new job and so on.
- Unclear destination and direction. We don’t always have to know the way, but we must have a vision of the destination in mind. It has been said that faith is taking the first step even when we don’t see the whole staircase.
- Fear of being misunderstood. Sometimes the people around you may not understand your journey, as long as you have a destination in mind, that’s all that matters. Stop trying to explain your every action to people, you can never please everyone. I can imagine this kind of conversation between Abram and his father, Terah. It might have gone something like this:
Abram: Dad, I need to leave your house soon.
Terah: Son, but why? Have I done or said anything wrong?
Abram: Not really Dad. I have been asked to leave and move elsewhere.
Terah: Really, where to and by who?
Abram: Well, hmmm…. God spoke to me and told me to leave.
Terah: God? How? Where? When? And where exactly did he ask you to go?
Abram: Frankly, I don’t know, but he said he will show me the place.
Terah: The place doesn’t have a name or map or direction to get there?
You can imagine where the conversation eventually led to. Finally, he leaves, but not knowing where exactly to go. Sometimes when we take on a new venture, we do have this niggling doubt about our course of action. Abram must have gone through those spells of doubts and apprehension as well.
4. Lack of a Reference Point: It can be quite challenging if you are doing something nobody has ever done before. What keeps you going at such times is a definiteness of purpose and clarity on what you want to achieve. Abram had a strong conviction, same as Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Martin Luther, and many great heroes of the past, who fixed their minds on their goal and achieved it despite all odds. In addition, Abram had a father who didn’t show good example in terms of setting a goal and achieving it. In Genesis 11: 31, the Bible says “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran, and dwelled there” We were not told if it was God who sent him, but Terah left Ur with a plan to go to Canaan, but when he got to Haran, he settled there. Since children learn from their parents, there was also a tendency that Abram could same, but he proved everyone wrong. Let’s not get stuck with tradition, become a transitional person, chart a new course for yourself and your family. Go for that greatness which has been planted in your mind, even if no one has ever done it before.
However, Abram made one mistake while he was leaving – he took Lot along with him. Bet me, Lot gave him lots of troubles. When you are called to achieve a specific thing, sometimes you need to run alone in your race of destiny. No two persons have the same purpose and mission in life. So be careful who is going with you on your life’s journey. You need to take a hard look at all the relationships in your life and ask yourself “where is this leading me? Is it towards or away from my goal?” A major turning point in Abram’s life was when he separated from Lot.
Gen 13: 14-15 ” The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever.”
Lift up your eyes from where you are: The first question that was asked in the Bible was “where are you?” An unexamined life is not worth living. Where are you now? Are you satisfied with where you are spiritually, mentally, socially, economically and otherwise? What would be an ideal situation for you in all these areas of your life? From wherever you are today, lift up your eyes above your current situation, fix your gaze and attention on what is possible. Focus on the ideal life you want for yourself. Fix that image on your mind, hold it there and believe that you can.
As far as you can. How far can you see? What can you see in your career, business, relationships and life as a whole? If you can’t see it, you can’t achieve it. You must visualize yourself achieving that success you already dreamed of before it becomes a reality. Begin today to see success, excellence, promotion, victory, peace, health, wealth and happiness. It will eventually come to you.