March 2016

Insidious Negativity

I had a realization today in the parking lot of my daughters' school. I had let the actions of others quietly sneak in and create negative feelings that were going unchecked. These unchecked feelings were causing me to react negatively to other circumstances in my life. Why would I have such a realization in a parking lot? Easy. It was the primary source for my negativity and anger.

To understand where I'm coming from, I need to explain a bit about the parking lot at my daughters' school, how it's laid out, and what the general flow is at drop-off and pick-up time. The parking lot is wide as it relates to the actual building itself. No space is that many steps further than another from the door. There is, of course, a porte coch
ère for drop off and inclement weather. It's appropriately called the "Kiss and Go" lane. Cars move through the lane and others park and the parents walk the children in to the school. My girls like to be walked in, so we park in one of the many available spaces.

As a rule follower, I found myself getting upset with parents who didn't follow the rules (which are clearly outlined in the parent handbook.) This was the source of my negativity and anger and started first thing in the morning. Some parents would create a second lane, just inside the fire lane, to be able to do drop off — typically 5 feet from an empty parking space. Other parents would create their own lane in the actual fire lane. Often times this make-shift lane blocked parents parked in spaces from being able to back out when they were ready to leave. On more than one occasion, a parent would park nose first in front of the fire hydrant.

Today, I saw a car backed in to the handicapped space. I didn't see handicapped plates or a placard hanging from the mirror. I mentioned it to the administrators after I had walked the girls to class and it turns out the car was legally parked. There is a placard that should be hanging from the mirror but is simply dropped on the dash and is barely visible. As I walked out of the building I had to ask myself why that worried me so much? It got me thinking about all of the other parking infractions that I encountered on many mornings. I'm not a police officer or fire marshall. Then it dawned on me. I was getting angry because people weren't following the rules and I was letting this anger go unresolved and it was resulting in a slowly building sense of negativity. I had let people I can't control actually control my attitude.

Once I was able to pinpoint what was going on, it became easy to start letting it go. Negativity breeds negativity. Whether it's from others in your life or circumstances you don't even notice, you have to raise your awareness so you can let those things go. People will be selfish. People will be entitled. It's not up to us to own that. It distracts us from being present and distracts us from gratefulness and joy. Have you assessed the negativity in your life lately? You can't lead others or be the best version of yourself with negativity brewing inside — especially if you didn't notice it growing there. Raise your awareness. Let those circumstances (or people) go. Focus on what is in the moment and just how great that is.