Responding When Someone Jerks Your Chain

Gayle Kurtzer-Meyers

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

Using positive words cannot only change an otherwise negative situation into a positive one, but in the long run, it can also be useful in terms of changing the very structure of your mind.

“A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”
Mark Robert Waldman in Words Can Change Your Brain

The neurological benefits of positive words

Whenever we use certain positive words such as “love,” “peace,” and “kindness,” we are getting ready to be in a position to modify our brain functions through the simple expedient of increasing highly cognitive reasoning, as well as strengthening the critical areas of our frontal lobes.

Using certain positive words far more often than their pessimistic counterparts can also easily activate our brain's prime motivational centers, thereby propelling them towards positive actions.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have clear-cut evidence that using negative words and their underlying connotations can effectively prevent certain neurochemicals (that exist in our neural pathways) from being produced. This, in turn, will end up contributing significantly to overall stress management.

So, in other words, whenever we allow any negative words and concepts to creep into our thought processes, we are in effect, also increasing the actual, real-world activity in our brain’s primordial fear center (the amygdala) and thus contributing to an increase in stress-producing hormones that essentially flood our system.

These neurotransmitters and hormones essentially interrupt the human brain's logic and reasoning processes and thereby inhibit normal functionality to a great degree.

The social advantages of using positivity

The seminal importance of positivity in both our collective and our personal lives can never be overemphasized. Just pause and reflect upon it. How often does a person even think about the meanings of the words they use every day? By and large, we all do the same thing, and that is to utter the words that somehow seem to flow quite naturally from our mouths.

Unfortunately, some of the words that we quite commonly use might end up having a profoundly negative influence on the people around us, especially those people who care a lot about us and vice versa. Here, it is quite possible that this can create a negative impression of the kind that will mar and damage a relationship with the very people that you want to be on good terms with.

Using positive words in day to day interactions

Of course, it does not always have to be this way at all. Let us take a look at some places where there might be an off chance that you will end up running into some trouble by inadvertently using negative words when that was the very last thing that you had in mind. It does not have to be a serious conversation, per se. On the contrary, it can be anything as seemingly innocuous as leaving a message on your telephone answering machine, or talking with your favorite colleague at work, chatting with a neighbor, going to a parent-teacher meeting, or any day to day interaction with your family and friends.

Let us see how we can change the negativity around us by using multiple positive terms to create a more wholesome environment. If you were to get rid of a few negative words and replace them with positive ones, you would positively change your whole life. A change that will be reflected amongst your family and friends and any other people you interact with regularly.

Problems can quickly become situations.

Let us take a joint negative statement and see how we can work our way around it until it sounds more positive and therefore easily doable.

“I have a problem at work.” Now swap this statement with the far more positive one, “I have a tough situation at work.”

Here, the term ‘problem’ may ostensibly seem as if you stuck to it and can’t seem to get out of it at all. Due to the seemingly intractable nature of this issue, it ends up weighing heavily on your shoulders.

Now substituting the term ‘problem’ with the comparatively more balanced ‘situation,’ the latter period, on the other hand, can easily make it seem not just temporary but also easily solvable, as well. This is since it has a considerably lighter feel to it, and as such, it will not be able to cause all that much anxiety.

Always and never can be switched for often and seldom.

It is quite possible to switch absolutes such as ‘never’ and ‘always’ with less etched words in stone. Words such as ‘seldom and often create a more ambiguous picture and thereby give you room to maneuver, even in tight spots.

Should have viz-a-viz could have know the difference

Different words such as “should have” may safely be converted to ‘could have.’ This means that the element of ‘wishful ‘thinking or regret has been taken away. When you use ‘could’ instead of ‘would,’ what you are saying, in essence, is that the circumstances were not conducive to the right outcome. However, it was not your fault; the outcome ‘could have’ swung either way. Here, when you use “should have,” you are, in essence, accepting that everything was your fault and you ‘should’ have done something entirely different. This way, the onus of the blame lands squarely on your shoulders, and you end up wallowing in grief and misery. The best way to dispel such unneeded negativity is to use positive or neutral terms and thereby ensure that you do not end up becoming guilty for anything that was not your fault in the first place.

Bad is bad, and it is unwise not to see that.

As far as negative words go, ‘bad’ is as well, as ‘bad’ as it can get. Using this term means that the negative connotations attached to it also go for a ride. Regardless of how you may look at it, you cannot safely use this word while maintaining a certain level of positivity to go with it. Here, the term ‘bad’ can be safely switched to ‘unwise’ or some other less negative term.

Faults can and indeed should become differences.

When you go right ahead and tell a person that he is essentially at fault, then there is no way whatsoever that he would be positive about it. Human beings are just not wired to think like that. We will become angry and defensive when someone tells us it’s all ‘our fault.’ In “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” Dale Carnegie had time and again emphasized that people cannot handle being called out for their faults at all. On the contrary, they will go out of their way to prove that you are wrong and thereby end up unleashing a veritable firestorm of negativity in the bargain.

But if you were to think along the lines of swapping the term ‘fault’ with the term ‘differences,’ then, of course, there will be an entirely new and comparatively more positive paradigm that will come into existence. Here, we use the term very ‘differently’ to say the least.

A person unwittingly allows a terrible virus to enter a company’s central servers. The virus locks away all the data present therein and refuses to let it go if a ransom amount is not paid. Here, the person who had unwittingly allowed it can be taken to task by the company management, who will blame him for his fault. However, that will only make him bitter and resentful. If his line manager were to counsel him to take more precautions by doing things a bit ‘differently,’ such as using an anti-virus scan check before opening unfamiliar attachments, then the said employee would see the error of his ways without indulging in any negativity, in this regard. This way, the data will become secure, and a valuable employee will also retain his overall productivity.

Always think positively before reacting to situations.

“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see a shadow” Helen Keller

It is pertinent to note that any individual or personality that essentially ‘flies off the handle’ (so to speak) with negative reactions usually has the potential to cause unintentional hurt to not only those that they are directing their emotions too but also the other individuals that are in the same environment and hear the wrath of the toxic behavior.

Thus, if one unselfishly takes a moment to think of a situation or person's positive aspects, the entire dynamics can be altered to result in a comparatively more positive outcome.

You go to a bank to cash a check a few minutes before closing time. The harried cashier has to cope with a long line of disgruntled customers, and he is already frazzled as it is and yelling at the customers for not signing their checks properly. As you reach the counter, he looks at you with ill-concealed anger, but before he says a single word, you look him in the eye and compliment him on his hairstyle and how his full head of hair makes him look a couple of decades younger.

Thoroughly disarmed, he breaks out in a heartwarming smile that makes both you and the cashier feel completely at ease. When he goes back home, you can bet that he would be walking on air. Your quick and positive thinking had, in effect, staved off what could have been a negative situation into an otherwise positive one.

However, this is but one example. To make it all work properly for you, you must try and make such positivity a part of your daily life. Let us take a quick look at how you, too, can try to stay positive in a negative situation.

Understand that negative circumstances are as much a part of your life as positive ones

First and foremost, you must understand the basic fact that just about everyone around must essentially go through at least some sort of adverse situation in his or her collective life. Various adverse conditions generally make up a large part of our life as they teach us exactly how to deal with different adverse circumstances. Here, you will do well to remember that you truly are on the right track when you believe that you indeed are on the right track. It is an almost axiomatic assumption that you will need to face considerably more adverse situations than ever before. But if you see them as just a test, as well as a stepping stone for your success, you can come out on top, quickly enough.

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind”
Joyce Meyer

In a nutshell, this means that being positive even during some of the greatest tragedies of life is essential. If you were to overcome the urge to say something wrong at the wrong moment, then not only will your restraint allow you to be pleased in life, but at the same time, it will also offer you excellent strength to be able to deal with just about any situation with a smile on your lips and a song in your heart. Following are a few pointers that can help you ‘think before you leap’ in any adverse situation:

You must accept a given situation and find a solution.

Always remember “to err is human, to forgive divine.” This means that people can and will make mistakes in each walk of life. And you are certainly no exception to this rule either. This is why there is no point in worrying about it, a bit too much for comfort. And on top of that, to ‘shoot your mouth’ when others make the same mistakes. Once you realize that you have made a mistake, it is high time that you learn to accept it and, afterward, also learn to take all those steps that are deemed necessary to sort out the mess.

However, learning to ‘bad mouth’ at others will not only make them extremely defensive, but at the same time, they will resent you for your harsh words and bid their time till you make a mistake and end up in the same situation. Once you do so, they pay you back in the same harsh coin; it will become a vicious cycle with no end in sight.

Yes, it is difficult not to lash out when you are angry and frustrated, but you can change as required. Sometimes, the world will be in your favor, sometimes not, since change is an ever-evolving concept. This is why, no matter what, you have to learn to accept the situation as it is, without losing your temper and saying cruel and unkind things. The best way is to use positive words to mold the situation to your preference.

“Change your words and you will change your thinking and that, in turn, will change your actions”

Train your mind to be positive

Nothing good or bad ever really happens. It is just our way of looking at it. It is how we perceive the world around us that either makes it right or wrong for us.

When you effectively make up your mind to treat every harmful word, barb, and situation as an object lesson to learn in life, you will, in effect, be able to have a positive outcome towards life in general, especially regarding the power of the spoken word, and its ability to impact the people around you.

Surround yourself with positive people

The oft-repeated adage “A man is known by the company he keeps’ is as fresh today as when it was first coined. As a matter of fact, this is the ultimate influencer of both individual character and the power of positive thought, and by extension, positive words.

Suppose you are always surrounded by negative people who speak only to deride and degrade their fellow human beings, then, of course. In that case, you too will be affected by their negativity and eventually end up following their way of thinking. Ultimately, they will be able to exert influence on not just your words alone, but also your review as well as your very character.

Conversely, when you start hanging out with positive people more often, then their positivity will also easily flow right into your soul. And once you have achieved a certain level of equilibrium concerning your positive thoughts and words (not to mention actions), then that is where you will stay, and vice versa. If you really want to stay positive in life, you must try and avoid naysayers at all costs to always be surrounded by an aura of peace, serenity, and positivity.

Use the power of your mind.

You need to use not just your words but your mind very mind in such a way that all the stress that you feel seeps out, and you are only filled to the brim with new positive thoughts and words.

Once you have a positive mind, then it is almost inevitable that positive words will flow through. You will be able to turn even otherwise negative circumstances into highly positive ones.

“Positive anything is better than negative nothing”
Elbert Hubbard

Some people talk so much crap that you don’t know whether to offer one of those tic tac mints or a roll of that much sought after toilet paper.

A mistake is almost always a valuable lesson.

When we chide others for making a mistake, we are making them bristle, and they are on their guard, not so much to refrain from repeating the same mistakes, but rather to ensure that they have an adequate excuse whenever they make the same mistake.

It cannot be stressed enough exactly how important it is to make good and sure that such erstwhile ‘mistakes’ are kept to a bare minimum. You can learn certain ways to ensure that the spoken word is not a mistake, so much as a valuable lesson that you can easily utilize to the best of your abilities.

Have high standards when it comes to words

When things go wrong, it is all too easy to slip into gutter language and start cussing the people (as well as the world) around us. This is why it is imperative to have high standards as far as your speech is concerned. Here the term ‘self-respect’ comes to mind.

That is, the higher your self-respect, the lesser will be the utilization of negative and just plain wrong terminology. If your spoken speech shows manners and elegance, then the people around you would be forced to raise the bar as well, and before you know it, everyone would be refined and upbeat.

And this does not have to be relegated to spoken speech alone. Instead, you can utilize this principle based on written text as well as each action of your life. This way, you will be able to create an excellent example that everyone would love to emulate.

Respect begets respect

If you respect others, they will, in their turn, respect you as well. If you are respectful towards your elders but treat your juniors to harmful speech and terminology that leaves them feeling bitter and vindictive, you are not doing yourself a favor. (To say the least.)

Therefore, you should not merely respect your elders, your bosses, and your teachers alone. No, respect should always be part and parcel of your life. In other words, you have to respect ‘everybody.’ Not just your friends, family and coworkers, alone.

When you start chewing out people who are not able to retaliate in kind, you will be abusing your power. On top of that, you have no idea what any person is going through or, for that matter, what kind of background they are coming from.

This is why, just about everyone in the world truly deserves a fundamental level of respect. Yes, it is not as easy as it sounds. Driving in a crowded city can (for example) often bring out the worst in us, and we let slip the veneer of tolerance that generally rests so uneasily on our collective visages.

However, this certainly does not mean that we have the inherent, god gifted right to be mean to people that we believe we will never be able to see again. Yes, it is easy to fall into the trap of our own anger and start screaming at the top of our lungs when someone jumps a red signal.

But stop and consider the fact that he is not likely to hear you. Still, unfortunately, the other occupants in your car might be made to listen to a sample of your highly negative and colorful vocabulary. This will demean you in their eyes. Especially since what has been said cannot be unsaid. By ensuring the principle of “respecting everyone,” you can easily make sure that you do not fall into this trap at all.

Set a certain threshold level of tolerance

Being patient is all well and good, but let us face it, Gautama Buddha, we are not. So, holding your temper in check is all well and good, but there will come a time when the dam will break, and the more you have kept a lid on it, the worse will be the resultant explosion. Therefore, you must have a specific limit when it comes to deciding just how far you can go before you start lashing out in a frenzy.

You have to make sure that your threshold limit is set well before the screaming and raving phase. That is long before you start losing your temper. Under the circumstances, when you realize that speaking your mind and its positive thoughts are not going to do you any favors, but rather invite even more very public opprobrium sum, you must go right ahead and walk away from what is almost certainly an annoying situation that will eventually come back to haunt you.

A young couple talks in the evening:

“Honey, I’m sorry that I let my anger lash out at you so frequently. How do you manage to put up with me and stay so calm, cool and collected?”
“I just go and clean the toilets when you act out.”
“And that helps?”
“Oh yes it does help because I’m using your toothbrush to scrub the bowl with.”

This holds for your real day to day life as well. Do not stick to a job simply because you are being paid to do something you do not like. This will increase your frustration levels to no end, and you will ultimately end up taking it out on your friends and colleagues.

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I am a Licensed Community Association Manager for the State of Florida and a published author. My top articles are about Florida RE, property management, and the many beautiful venues and activities available in the Sunshine State. Thank you for reading my work and joining me on the journey.

Kissimmee, FL

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