Welcome to the end of another year (or close to it). As we approach the New Year, lots of people are focused on the resolutions and changes they want to make. Folks think about what they are unhappy with or set new goals. It’s a great time of year for new beginnings (although ANY time of year is a great time for a new beginning). That recognized, how many of us take a look at why we want to change what we want to change and take the necessary steps to remove some of the negativity from our day and our lives?

When I have conversations with people and they talk about their friends I’m very careful to differentiate whether they mean a true friend, an acquaintance, a work mate or someone they know of due to incidental contact (friend of a friend, guy you only ever see at the gym, etc.). Quite often during those kinds of conversations, the person I’m talking to realizes that the person they just described as a friend really isn’t. Then they realize that they’re wasting emotional energy (and time) worrying about the “friend.” It’s inspiring to see the lightbulb come on over their head (figuratively speaking) when they realize they’re burning time and energy for no good reason.  Those “friends” are the ones we all need to kick to the curb. We all have true friends and it’s absolutely right and noble for us to care about them, worry about them and help them. But if you’re doing all that for someone who doesn’t care about you and who truthfully doesn’t matter in your day, then stop. Remove them from your focus and your concern. It will help brighten your day.

That same outlook can be applied to family. As much as I’m ashamed to admit it, there have been times in my life (and continue to be today) when family members have been so overwhelmingly negative about a decision I’ve made or an action I’ve taken that it’s easier to simply not communicate with them. As an adopted child who was reunited with his birth family, I’m overwhelmed with four sisters and six brothers (combined). Two of those siblings I have absolutely nothing to do with. One is in a committed relationship with a convicted (and continuing) drug dealer and is a horrendous parent. Of the two children that sibling has, one graduated high school, enlisted in the military and moved away, having realized that he would not excel at home. The other child is high school age and on a path to be just like her seriously off track parent. Family has tried to help and it’s been wasted effort. We have all decided to waste no more effort. I have another sibling who, long ago, told me that I was a waste and a leach and I should have removed myself from the family structure the moment I turned 18. I don’t really see it as necessary to have further conversation with that sibling either. That leaves me with eight wonderful brothers and sisters who, quite honestly, I don’t get to spend enough time with (due to geography and our chosen residential locations). Family members can be toxic just like fake friends. Limit your exposure to them if it’s in your own best interest.

For the love of goodness, if you don’t have to be in contact with your ex (spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.) then don’t. There’s a reason they are your ex whatever! I have an ex-wife and don’t wish her ill in any way but unless circumstances put us in the same room I have no intention of seeking out contact with her – nor she I. We got divorced for a multitude of reasons and any one of them is sufficient for us not to seek social time with one another. My wife feels the same about her ex. Unless there are children involved, and that responsibility outweighs all comfort concerns, remove your ex-anything from you day as much as you can. You don’t need to carry the negativity of that failed/fallen/ended relationship into a new year.

Let go of grudges. It may be hard to do because we all have an inner two year old and that inner toddler desperately wants to hold onto every grudge we’ve ever had until we view karma visit the person we hold that grudge against. That’s a lot of negative energy to cling to. Let it go. Karma does come around… eventually. You may not get the satisfaction of seeing it happen, but you can rest assured it will happen. Let the grudge go and give yourself a measure of peace; move forward with your life. Holding onto the grudge does nothing but bring negativity to your day and into your mental home. Kick it out the door and be happier.

If there are bad habits (and we all have them) that you know you need to kick, start working on it. Starting a new year with the reality of having kicked a bad habit is an awesome thing. Do you think you don’t have any bad habits? Take an honest look at yourself. I KNOW I have bad habits. I curse way too much (is ANY too much?). I enjoy cigars on occasion. I get distracted by hobby thoughts while I should be focused on work (sometimes). For all that, I don’t drink alcohol (hardly at all) or do any drugs at all. I’m faithful to my wife and I’m diligent about my work. I try my best not to be lazy but procrastinating is something I do more often than I should (I’ll have to decide on that one tomorrow). Take a look at your habits. Is there something you want to stop doing? Is there a behavior modification you feel you need to make? Get to work on it now!

Those are a few things that exist in our lives that are negative; that are “toxic.” Anything you can do to limit them in your life before you move into the New Year is good. The goal is to reduce negative and thereby increase the weight of the positive. Interestingly, if you reduce the amount of time you spend on anything negative, you – by default – increase the amount of time you spend on the things, people, events and places that bring you positive energy.

Last but far from least, release yourself from doubts. Sure, we all have them. We doubt we can do something. We doubt we can trust someone. We doubt the weather man is correct in his prediction. Sometimes doubts are warnings and we need to heed them. Sometimes doubts are simply wasted wonderings about things we can’t control and that will have relatively little impact on our day. The biggest challenge is when we doubt we can do something; reach a goal; overcome an obstacle. When our doubt is one of self-confidence then we truly need to set it aside. Being realistic with yourself is one thing. Doubting yourself when you have no good reason to is entirely different. Stop doing that. Release unnecessary or unwarranted doubt from your day to day behavior and thinking. Increase your confidence level by default and watch your success levels rise!

Welcome to the end of a year… and the beginning of a new one. What are you carrying into the new one?


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