Deb Sofield


Garbage In, Garbage Out

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Seriously, I have no idea why people watch TV. Consider this a rant (and forgive me if you feel otherwise): in the space of two minutes of my clicking through TV channels in my hotel room, I saw horrifying and gruesome abuse (directed towards women), physical beatings of men and women, vulgar language and inappropriate insinuation of harm to kids.

And we wonder what is wrong with our world!

I have never been a big TV watcher. I taught myself years ago to put down the remote down and pick up a book. While I love any TV adventure that Josh Gates finds himself in the midst of, any travel food extravaganza that Andrew Zimmern and others take me on or any sports game (especially baseball) but the other stuff, count me out.

I have an odd recall mechanism that seems to replay the three-second horrid scene that I should have clicked through but stopped a second too late, and now it’s a real effort to erase that mental visual and get on with my work.

It seems to me that TV imitates life–garbage in from what shows up on TV seems to be the garbage-acting-out of our society today. Just like the garbage talk of negative comments from unkind friends and family, to the snarky, jealous remarks from co-workers, to rude drivers and unpleasant people. How it affects us, if we’re not careful, is the garbage out of our reactions. We may very well exhibit the same voracity towards others as was smeared on us if we don’t stop and think about our actions and if we don’t keep ourselves in check and move to the gentle and kind side of the street.

Speaking of the street, I am in Philly working this week. Against the backdrop of the amazing history, food and fun this city has to offer is the other side that I walk by on my way to see the documents of history that allow us to pursue the dreams of liberty and justice for all. Unfortunately, the other side of the street is home to the homeless, the broken and the ill. The difference is noticeable and heartbreaking.

One thing that strikes me about this vibrant historical city is the level of garbage that is everywhere, whipped up by the wind as it cyclones between the monster sized glass and brick buildings that tower over the original historic structures. Without a doubt, the architectural beauty of the many old buildings in this town is a wonder to behold once you get past the garbage that is surrounding it.

I am staying downtown in a beautiful old building that once was used as “the headquarters and offices for the old Reading Railroad Company. The train station attached to the building was the largest single-span arched roof structure in the world when it was completed and saw 45,000 passengers daily during its peak years.” The current layout of the roads and skyscrapers is an interesting mix of old and new and together it is a bustling place of tourists, locals and convention-goers.

One thing I am impressed by is the wonderful preservation of the historical buildings of our founding fathers in this town. These buildings were meant to last–no garbage here. Nothing here that is flimsy and destructible, no. The smoothed brick and ancient stones hold up well against the glass and metal skyscrapers that encompass them on every side. The builders understood the value of a strong foundation that would not be swayed with the tides of leadership, nature or personal ambition.

Garbage in, garbage out. I know that is an odd theme for a newsletter, but as I walk the streets of this historic town and see the truth of this town’s situation; as I am watching from afar the world unfolding with reckless destruction; and as I listen to stories of personal pain and devastation, I am seeing firsthand the end result of garbage in and garbage out, and it concerns me.

So, as your friend, I’d like to help you recognize and remove “garbage” from your life so you can live your best life ever.

I consider garbage to be the words that ring in your ears hurled by those who secretly seethe with jealousy and rage at your seemingly indestructible self. I am concerned when I see garbage actions that are set as a trap to entice you away from what you know is right and good in an effort to damage and hurt you and your reputation. Mostly, I am disheartened with the garbage attitudes that are meant to dismiss and demean you in front of others while believing the false assumption that by putting you down they lift themselves up.

I can only hope you never forget that the problem is with them and not with you. Remember, their words are hollow. Their trap will only ensnare you if you leave the honest path, and their belittling you only reflects their lack of self-worth.

I assume that at one time some of these “friends” and family weren’t filled with so much rage, i.e. garbage, but today it seems, as I look around or listen or watch, that they and others like them are full to the brim with vitriol that is so destructive. It is best to leave them alone, pick up your personal shield and take cover from the never-ending flow of gossip, lies, backbiting and plain old nastiness.

We all have choices on how we deal with the weight of unkindness that is thrust upon us. We can fight and become stained in the battle, or we can walk away and close our ears and eyes to the taunts of those who, frankly, wouldn’t stand a chance if we ever did go after them. Or we can cast aside our honor, dignity and respect and meet them in the mud pit for a final showdown.

Lest you wonder what I’d advise you to do, let me quickly state, for the record, that you don’t have time to waste on such foolishness, so, no, you are not meeting anyone in the mud pit.

It only stands to reason that if the world, by its incessant beat of self-absorption, self-introspection and selfishness fills our friends and family with anger and, dare I say it, hate towards the issues of the day or perceived offences or familiar family disruptions (unless they implode due to the weight of the burden that they willingly carry to prove their shallow worth, limited intelligence or lack of value) they will explode all over you and everyone else they come into contact with. So your best bet is to seek shelter, step aside or slowly move away from the ticking time bomb of someone’s unhinged emotions.

Yes, I am all for moving away and keeping a mile of distance from those who do not value you or only value you for what they can squeeze out of you. I am all for reorganizing your time, so you don’t have to deal with their dual personalities of sweetness until they don’t get what they want, which then turns to nastiness when they realize you are not fooled by their act. And I applaud those who can grit their teeth, say hello and goodbye without engaging in the drama of garbage-filled conversations of made up accusations.

When I was younger, avoidance was not my weapon of choice, alas. I am older and, hopefully, wiser, and I have learned both the hard way and the right way that by giving a soft answer it does turn away the wrath. And if that doesn’t work, just turning away and being unavailable by phone, text or in-person also does the trick.

I no longer have an interest in kicking the hornet’s nest to see the actions and reactions of my angry friends (as fun as it may sometimes be), and I would advise, neither should you. Angry hornets can sting more than once, and their sting hurts more than most other flying insects due to their poison.

That being said, if you’re one of those kind, sweet, loving souls who find purpose in consistently helping the angry class, and you can see a bit of light in the darkness, by all means shine a light to help connect with those who are lost in the sea of anger. Perhaps you can help them to the safety of the shore.

The moral of my message is this. I don’t want to fill my life with garbage, I don’t want to fill my mind with garbage, I don’t want to be a part of any garbage that could stain my reputation, my heart or my head. And because I am garbage-averse, I will work diligently to keep it away from me so I do not become embroiled in any way in which it might entangle so that I fall into the trap of garbage in, garbage out.

Ah, friend, be careful who you associate with. Be wise when it comes to choosing friends, and be aware when dealing with family, because when all is said and done, you become the company you keep. So if they are not on the right side of the street going in a positive direction, don’t be surprised when you trip over garbage and end up in a place that is not of your choosing.

Garbage in, garbage out. It never changes until you change what you accept in your life.

Stand strong in the firm foundation of your well-built past, and choose wisely in the community of your current environment. Know that there is no shame in protecting yourself from the words, actions and attitudes of those who seem to enjoy the garbage of their own doing.

Life is too short to live in the garbage dump of others’ making. And if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation, wash yourself off and begin again with those who lift you up, encourage and embrace the beautiful person that you are.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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