I know that it’s actually “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” But I’m not talking about that today.
Abstinence is an interesting word, because in my life, the first time I heard it was during a sexual purity retreat in middle school. Abstain! Then it was a word I heard associated with drinking; “Abstain from drinking in high school.” But now, abstinence is something I’m practicing every day in my life, and not with things like alcohol or the food I eat or anything of that nature. I’m learning to abstain from negativity.
Yeah, it might sound weird. Work with me here. Think about how many times a day you can be tempted to talk badly about a co-worker, to think negatively about a situation, or to worry about what’s happening or what’s to come. Here in Los Angeles, it’s easy to think about what another person’s motives are and not take them at face value; it’s easy for other people to tear you down because you are one of the millions, not one in a million, to most people out here. And it’s easy to fill your heart and head with doubt. “Will I ever achieve my dreams?”
A turning point occurred a few weeks ago, when I found myself sleepless one night. I didn’t know why, I just wanted to get some shut eye. “Dear Lord, please, just remove whatever doubt I’m feeling right now. I just want some sleep.” I woke up the next morning, I kid you not, fearless. It was a feeling I had when I first moved out here, something I possessed my entire life, but since February I have been filled with doubt, worry, and anxiety about things (read: my career) that I never doubted, worried or felt anxious about before. I had that feeling back and it was wonderful. It didn’t matter what was going on with my personally or professionally, it was all washed away. My “conquer all” attitude was reinstated and my deep belief that everything is going to work out for the best was back.
Over these months, I evaluated this fearless feeling I “used” to have. “It was because I was naive! At some point you have to grow up and learn that not everything is positive in life.” Yep. Typical rookie mistake. I think sometimes we have to hash things out with ourselves before God intervenes. He has a pretty funny sense of humor. But I am ashamed to admit I ever thought those thoughts, because everything in life is positive. There is always something to learn, always something to be thankful for; even in your darkest hours, there is hope, and that’s always a positive thing. For me, feeling those emotions for awhile was a positive thing in the end, because it helped me to come back with the fiery determination and peaceful contentment I had initially. I guess it sometimes when things are removed from your life, you realize how badly you need (and want) them back. And I certainly wanted my fire back.
It’s something I have to work on daily — not giving into negativity, but it’s an empowering feeling knowing that no circumstance, no situation and no person can affect how I view myself and my life. It’s really an amazing state of mind. And I have to say that abstaining from negativity has made me happier with myself. I don’t miss those feelings and I don’t see them as emotions I am “fond” of, that I ever want back. As Fergie said in this month’s Glamour, “You’d be surprised at how addicting self confidence is.”