Over the years I have written several pieces on positivity, maintaining a positive mindset, outlook, positive problem solving, and so much more. It may surprise you to know that I am not a naturally positive person. I had to learn how to be positive. And I stumble, a lot.
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to start a new project, I was consumed with worry and negativity. I love to have a few projects going at a time. By nature, I enjoy staying busy. Yet, while I know this to be true about myself, I had been deeply hurt by the words of a dear friend. I don’t think she meant anything by it, but she started a text message with, “You are always so busy.” And that one message started a trickle effect. An acquaintance sent me a message saying the same thing, then a colleague.
Receiving the same message three times in a week made me take a step back and doubt myself. As soon as I allowed doubt in, the negativity washed over me. I started to wonder if I was too busy, if people were afraid to approach me because they suspected I was busy. Was I sending negative messages and vibes out? Was I projecting the image that I am always busy hoping people would think I was important? As the questions spiraled out of control, I let my positivity and passion go.
Sitting in my funk, I took a step back and asked myself why the phrase, “you are always so busy” bothered me. I realized it was so hurtful because from a very young age, the people closest to me, those who were supposed to love me unconditionally, would say that to me. They used my drive, my intrigue, my hobbies as a weapon against me. Rather than celebrating my interests, my hobbies became a weapon to use when they felt I wasn’t paying enough attention to them.
Every time this phrase was said to me, I stopped the hobbies and interests and poured myself into the person. The result was a very unhappy, unhealthy, people pleaser with no boundaries. And this person lived in negativity, always empty with nothing to give to anyone. These were the moments I was miserable, depressed, and unable to manage my ADHD.
Over the last year, I have intentionally set boundaries to not allow people to have power over me. I am on a journey to become the best version of myself, which means focusing on my health. Hearing the phrase, “you are so busy” brought back all the feelings, and before I could reinforce my boundaries, I allowed the feelings to take me back to the person I was.
I am grateful for this experience. It showed me the importance of boundaries. Shaking off the hurt and funk, I choose to find new phrases to express my availability. Part of being positive is putting positivity out, and that is what I was missing. I love the person I am becoming, and I love the positivity I surround myself with. I will always have 15 projects going, it’s who I am. Rather than dreading it or wishing I could be something I am not, it is up to me to define how people see me. And that starts with how I communicate my availability.
Sara Orellana lives in Oklahoma City and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.