One person struggles with a certain passion that another easily masters; yet the latter struggles far more with a different passion that the former easily overcomes. In other words, what is step ten for one person could be step twenty for another, and any given step may take many years to master.
We all know we have shortcomings. We see it in our family, coworkers, friends, and drivers on the road.
It causes frustration, hurt feelings, and can just bring an overall negative vibe to our day.
So how do we regain positivity in our day?
Picture a Ladder
I don’t know when negativity crept into my life, but I’m finding it hiding, lurking in all corners of my life. I’m shining a light on it and kicking it out the door of my mind!
A family member may need to work on dependability and a friend on timeliness. Thinking things like ‘they have their own priorities and will just change their mind later,’ ‘they’re always late,’ and ‘if they cared then…’ creates distance between us. By focusing on these shortcomings, I find myself in a negative state of mind.
This passage from Thirty Steps to Heaven really spoke to me in regards to this. What may come easily to me, can be a significant stumbling block to someone else and vice versa.
I picture people on different rungs of a long ladder. Some are low on it, others higher up. In the past I would’ve looked around and compared myself to where other people were on the ladder. This can lead to pride or low self-esteem based on how you look at it. Whereas, a better way of thinking is that we’re all on the journey up the ladder and in different spots. It doesn’t help me get anywhere or move forward by comparing my place with someone else’s.
Opening my mind to this way of thinking allows me to approach the shortcomings of others with compassion and understanding. This can really help me stop the cycle of negative thinking I’ve found myself in and help me get back on the path of positivity again.
Focus on Your Own Ladder Rung
You may be saying, ‘okay but what if they’re unaware or don’t want to change?’ I think that is answered in the second part of the passage that states it can take years to overcome shortcomings. Sometimes people aren’t ready or in a place in their lives to confront their flaws; they deny them, dismiss them, excuse them, or even embrace them. As you’ve probably heard many times, we can’t change others just ourselves and our responses to other people’s behavior. So where does that leave us in the midst of feeling frustrated or hurt?
This is where I picture someone just chilling out on the rung. They’re happy where they are. They don’t want to move forward.
I set emotional boundaries; I remind myself that sometimes it’s not about me, it’s about them and the work they need to do in their own life when they’re ready. This helps me stay more positive by distancing myself from other people’s negative emotions and helps me let go of frustration and even prevent it.
I can only focus on my own shortcomings and hope they find their own way.
Lend a Helping Hand
Sometimes people need help and support to overcome their flaws. We can offer this if it’s appropriate. I picture someone struggling on a rung, desperate to move on, but can’t reach. They keep falling down, and cover their face in shame. They try again and fall down and then just give up.
We can be that helping hand that helps them reach the next rung, to overcome their obstacles in life.
Moving Forward in Positivity
The next time I have negative thoughts towards another, I’ll think of this quote and remember it may be easy for me, but not for them. Maybe I’ll say a little prayer for them as well and ask for God’s forgiveness for my lack of humility as well to help me on my own journey.
Papavassiliou, Archimandrite Vassilios. Thirty Steps to Heaven: The Ladder of Divine Ascent for All Walks of Life (Kindle Locations 100-104). Ancient Faith Publishing. Kindle Edition.