Cutting out the Noise

NOISE!!  It’s everywhere!  Unless you lock yourself in a room, with no connection to the outside world, and no form of multimedia, you will hear it from somewhere.  On my quest for a simpler life, I know that one thing I need to cut from my life, or at least learn to deal with is noise.  Here are some of my experiences and how I dealt with them or am being challenged by them.

I remember a few years ago I was working with an ex-boyfriend.  We were placed in an office together for a day inputting registration forms into computers.  This only happened quarterly, which made me feel better because I had conflicting feelings about being in such close quarters with him.  I remember him saying something to me about a friend/co-worker of ours going on a date with someone in authority who worked for the same organisation.  I remember saying: “I don’t want to know about it, it’s none of my business”.  I think it drove him crazy because he wanted to gossip with me about it, however I felt so good about stopping the spread of gossip right then and there.

Of course, I didn’t learn from this, and have gone on in my life being a bit of a gossip.  It hasn’t necessarily been bad gossip in the past few years, however, I’m guilty of listening, and repeating a thing or two here and there.  I want to stop this cycle completely.  It’s one thing to let your feelings out by talking about them.  Sometimes that involves an “I can’t believe this person did this to me”, or what not, however, after you say your piece, it’s time to stop, and move on with your life.  Dwelling is holding onto anger and will only lead to your own demise.

I’ve had relationships with people who have been horrible gossips.  I remember a girl I used to work with, let’s call her Miranda (I use this name because I don’t know any female with this name at this point in my life).  We were working at a job that had about 20 of us, mostly between the ages of 18-24 in close quarters and things could get quite socially uncomfortable at times.  For some reason, we couldn’t all just get along all of the time or even most of the time.  I remember speaking to a co-worker after she came out of a bit of a war with one of the other staff.  She said “it didn’t matter what I said or did, this other person keeps getting mad at me and keeps talking about me behind my back.  One morning I woke up and I thought to myself ‘just stop talking to Miranda’.  I did, and the war ended then and there.  She was egging both of us on.”

Miranda loved to gossip and stir the pot.  The same thing happened to me a few years later, and I didn’t even realize it was going on at first.  I don’t even know if Miranda knew what she was doing or how her actions affected people.  I hope that she’s grown and matured; however, whenever I cross paths with her, I am very careful about what I say, and try not to say anything (even positive things) that could be taken the wrong way.

Miranda was noise, and easy to ignore once you developed the tools to do so.  It’s harder when you have friends like that.  These friends are usually friends of convenience (who are easiest to sever ties with when it is no longer convenient or you can just keep your mouth shut and talk about the weather), however, sometimes they are part of social circles and you have to put up with them, sometimes they are friends of obligation, sometimes they are family members and sometimes they are your partner.

Some of these bonds are easier to sever than others.  Family members are the hardest, and depending on your relationship with your partner, that can be nearly impossible to cut.

I remember a friend that I had in my first few years of high school.  At first, I thought she was funny and cool and I laughed a lot around her.  Eventually, I realized that she was a bit of a downer, all of her jokes were at other people’s expense and she was a bit of a bully.  She took me down this road with her and I don’t like the person I was under her influence.  Eventually she turned on me and I was done with her.  After that, I’d start to forgive her and she’d do something to make me dislike her and not trust her.  This happened a few times over the years.  She’d publically embarrass me, and she even managed to harm other people while she was at it.  Eventually I managed to fully cut the cord.  It was at a bit of a price, but I did it, and the noise ended.

Celebrity gossip is another tough cord to cut.  You can’t avoid it.  It’s staring at you in line at the grocery store, on television, in the newspaper and any sort of news multi-media.  It is sad that I’ve seen more photos of the Royal babies than I have of some of my family members’ children.  I know more about celebrity divorce than I do my close friends.  Even more, it is sad that people care about this more than people they actually know, in real life, and not through multi-media.  I really don’t think that Brad Pitt cares about what goes on in my life, so why should I be emotionally involved in his?  People put celebrities on pedestals and want to be just like them.  When you watch the media’s version of them going through troubled times, it makes them feel more human, and it makes us feel like we are better than them.  Again, this is trying to keep up with the Joneses, and this isn’t a healthy way to live our lives.

One more type of noise that I’d like to touch on is what I think of as “Downers by Association”.  These people are usually in the work place, but can be found in different social groups as well.  They are people that you can’t help but overhear being negative.  TUNE THESE PEOPLE OUT.  Their negativity will NOT serve you.  They may pull you in without even knowing it and make you feel bad about yourself.  They may annoy the crap out of you because you think they are ungrateful jerks who don’t realize how good they have it and their complaints are unwarranted.  Ah, it makes me angry just thinking about it.  Just tune them out.  I use headphones in situations where I can get away with it, and graciously excuse myself in social situations.

I think my piece of advice to minimize noise is to try to block it out the best you can, and if at all possible, replace it with something worth listening to.  Turn the TV off, or at least watch re-runs of your favourite sitcom on television, stop speaking to or associating yourself with the neighbourhood pot stirrer and make connections with real people who have overcome obstacles in their lives.  Stop wasting energy on noise that doesn’t serve you and start focusing on relationships that bring value to your life.



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