Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

Many in Portland, including myself, feel we’re living in a dystopian world created by issues beyond our control.

We are attempting to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve watched the peaceful protests for Black Lives Matter escalate into all-out conflicts with federal troops who were not invited to our city. Then “grab and snatch” tactics by the uninvited and unidentified troops to control protesters by loading them into unmarked vehicles left citizens feeling unnerved. Our city is rid of the uninvited and unidentified troops.

All of us are entitled to support, compassion, and a just and equitable environment in which to live and raise our families. Government leaders and citizens of Portland are now in discussions to make support, compassion, and equity primary to all actions taken in Portland.

However, behind the scenes, there are many suffering and struggling with depression and emotions out of control regarding all of these strange and unusual dilemmas we’re facing. I am one of them. And I know I’m not alone.

Many are writing blog posts and articles on the state of our mental health and how to relieve the stress of it all and ultimately find peace. 

I stumble around each day looking for something to do that interests me. My writing flounders. I write that with abundant kindness (it’s worse than floundering!). 

What can I do for someone else during these times? Write a note, make a call, send a text or email? Maybe. But somehow silence and solitude sound better. And I know that’s selfish on my part.

God gifts me with a new day every morning, and what do I do? After reading emails, I spend too much time on social media. Scrolling through my feed in search of something positive seems a waste of time these days. Then I am angry with myself for wasting a good part of His gift.

Finally, the other day I found something interesting and helpful. My friend, Robert McBride, posted something well worth reading. Robert provided his thoughts on an article appearing in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic; Here’s How to Build It” by Andrea Petersen. Among his words, I found the following:

My idea is to think of my brain’s tendency toward negativity as something like a dog that’s a little wild but could be trained toward better behavior with consistent, loving effort. If I train myself to recognize pointless negative thoughts the moment they happen, like a dog lunging while on a leash, I can reflexively take control, since my hand is on the other end of that leash, right? I can control the dog if I just make the effort to do so. And I can curb my regativity the same way. I can put myself on a short leash and make the effort to train myself to think differently.

This makes a great deal of sense to me. If I sit down, plug into social media, and bombard myself with negative thoughts, my brain absorbs the negativity. The negativity will pull me down into the muck and mire of that news feed. Immediately on reading Robert’s words, I knew I wanted and needed to start building mental resilience and fight against negativity. I’m working on it.

The other way I’m working toward positivity vs. negativity is by making lists of things I need to work on. Today I made three lists: (1) administrative projects (I called it that when I was working; I still have similar tasks in retirement to keep us operating as a family), (2) personal interests (things I long to do, including writing), and (3) struggles (things I have difficulty facing, including writing).

From this, you can see that if I wanted to I could find a great deal to occupy my time. However, there is something inside me that bucks up against some of these things. It’s up to me to figure out how to balance all of this out while “walking the dog” and changing my mindset and my mental resilience.

For this reason, I’ll be on social media only minimally for awhile. I will continue to write here posting as it comes to me and seems worthy of your time.

John 14:27 states God’s promise. It should be sufficient in times like these.



16 thoughts on “Finding Peace in Times of Negativity

  1. I have watched in horror what has been going on in your back yard. I am glad to know things are now calming down and that the community is pulling together to bring peace to the area. You are not alone and I share much of the frustration and anger you must have been feeling. And yes, my writing has taken a backseat too. Thinking of you.

    1. Joan, everything was peaceful until someone who thinks he knows it all sent his “stormtroopers” in to assist the city that didn’t ask him to do this, didn’t suggest it, and didn’t want it. So glad they’ve gone back to where they came from. We are hopeful that the police department and the city officials can pull together with the BLM to settle differences about police actions and abuse. Thank you for the words “you are not alone” and “thinking of you.”

  2. Even though my country is weathering the pandemic fairly well so far, I commiserate with much of what you’ve clearly expressed here. Stay safe and be strong.

    1. Hi there Chuck! Thanks for stopping by and reading today’s post. It’s one that took a great deal of thought and consideration before putting it out there. I appreciate the re-posting. As you know, any and all support is appreciated.

  3. Sherrey, I’ve thought of you so often as I watched—in disbelief —these senseless attempts to quell the protests. You have captured the essence of the horror and repercussions of being taken over by these unidentified troopers—invaders—who only added to the fear and chaos. So relieved they are gone. Your words resonate with me and I’m sure with others who are battle-weary from the news cycle, I’ve minimized my time watching the news as a strategy for maintaining some peace. Thank you for your wise words and heartfelt thoughts. Thinking of you. I wish you well, my dear friend.❤️

    1. “Battle-weary” is a good descriptor of what has been going on with our lives recently, Kathy. It is so good to know that friends have been thinking of you in times such as these. With respect to the pandemic, I think of you and yours often and pray COVID-10 stays clear of your family. Peace to you, my friend.

  4. Sherrey, your post points us in a positive direction. Robert McBride is on to something when he illustrates our brain’s tendency toward negativity and suggests a way out.

    Like you, I make lists and try to begin each day with meditation. John 14:27 is a good place to start. Thank you, my dear! ((( )))

    1. Marian, isn’t John 14:27 the best place to turn when life is turned upside down? I appreciate your comforting words and glad you liked Robert McBride’s illustration of what our brain does with too much negativity. Praying you and Cliff stay clear of the virus. Sending you good wishes in these troubled times.

  5. Hi Sherrey. Glad to find your blog again. I haven’t seen you around and get no blog notifications. So when Chuck reblogged I hopped over. I’m so sorry for all what’s going on in your country. Know you aren’t alone, and yes, turn it off, turn on some music and lift yourself. Writing is sanity for most of us. Stay safe and be well. <3

    1. Hi, stranger! So glad you found your way here. We’ll both have to appreciate Chuck more than we do now. There is lots of comfort found in your words and I will hold them close as we move forward. You and your husband stay safe and well.

  6. I understand your struggle with depression at this time as I’ve been weighed down by it in recent months too. I started making a list every morning of things I wanted to accomplish that day—often it was only one thing. Every morning in my journal, and often at the end of the day as well, I recorded tangible things I saw, smelled, felt, and tasted. The practice helped ground me. I spent more time in scripture—for a long time my devotional life was impacted by my despair and I could only read in the psalms. I stopped feeding on the news. Finally, one day I felt a lightening of the burden and that has continued bit by bit. Our granddaughter has been with us for a little over a week and is returning home today. Her presence, of course, has brought great joy. Anyway, I just wanted to send virtual hugs your way, Sherrey and let you know I hear you and understand. I’m behind on social media and reading blogs and it may be that way for a while. Yours, is always a welcoming space I like to visit. Stay well, my friend.

    1. Linda, I knew if anyone would understand my feelings and struggle it would be you. We seem to often travel a similar path. Getting the news out of my life and world has been a big help. I like your practice of recording what tangible things you see, smell, feel, and taste. That certainly brings God’s blessings to a beautiful reality. I’ve noticed on FB your sweet girl has been with you and enjoy seeing and reading what the two of you and sometimes her mother have done. What a great source of joy! Words can’t express the joy and comfort of your virtual hugs and your hearing and understanding my words. And I’m not missing social media too much now. I pick and choose. Likewise, I enjoy visiting your “slice of life.” Stay safe, stay well, dear friend.

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