Along Comes Sludge
Every day you allow yourself to care about someone else's opinion of you is a day you stay bound by the very chains they wish to put upon you. For if freedom is the absence of chains, then one chain is one chain too many to truly be free. Simply put, a single worry of how the world views you is the equivalent of slavery. You are bound. You are a captive. Not to the world's view of you, because it has no real power over you, but to your own thoughts, and it's in those thoughts that the most beautiful pieces of you are stripped away. Until eventually you are nothing. Until you have become everything a spiteful, onlooking and cheering world hoped you would become.
The truth is, it's the ones who hate you that carry the chains. They themselves are bound, and they would rather see someone else carry the same chains than feel alone in their own self-dissatisfaction. It's not that they hate you, you're just the convenient, available target of the moment. Their thoughts towards you, their hate for you, and all their gossip about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with themselves. They are void. Empty from skin to the soul, and none of their accomplishments, none of their life's efforts have delivered the purpose they dreamed of or hoped for. So distaste has become the fruit of their labor and now they want you to take a seat at the table... A full course meal of self loathing and mutual destruction.
But here you are, happy, in a good place, just plugging away at life. Giving it your best. You know your weaknesses, you see your inadequacies, but they don't bother you. You just get up day after day trying to put on your best self, reign in your faults, polish up your strengths and learn from yesterday's failures while you enjoy the moment and set your sites on all the things you can make better tomorrow. You're not perfect, you've never claimed to be. You just want to be a slightly better version of you than the day before. It's simple... then along comes Sludge. Some lifeless, insecure soul with no sense of self that somehow feels threatened by your efforts, lessened by your successes and robbed by your personal joy. They want one thing and one thing only... to see you miserable, disassembled and off the tracks.
Now the logical side of you is as clear as the sky is blue. "Who cares? Who cares what the next person thinks or says about me?" You're focused on what makes you happy, gassing up the engine to plow into another day. Then somewhere between the gas pump and the piston, a little bit of doubt sets in. It starts as just a thought. A small, tiny, insignificant thought, as quick and passing as the stranger in the blue Maxima on your way home from work. It's there, you notice it, but before you can react to its presence, it's gone. Just another set of taillights in the distance. A meaningless doubt. But it leaves a rut, and before you know it a few more doubts come along, running their wheels through that same carved tarmac and suddenly your own thoughts have become a bumpy ride.
What happened? You were doing so good. You were dialed in, killing it, not even focused on anything remotely negative. But out of the blue here he is again, old Sludge, like cousin Eddie on Christmas Eve living rent-free in your thoughts. You try and lure yourself to a happy place, think of something else, anything else. Anything to get your mind off the stupidity thats bouncing around like a pinball between your ears. But, the more it bounces the louder it gets, and eventually old Sludge acquires a little bit more real estate. Thats when your thoughts make the first noticeable shift towards the sewer, and in a matter of seconds you go from barely noticing negativity to churning it out like a shit factory. They got you exactly where they wanted you; Locked in your own lonely, grueling headspace, thinking about their opinion of you.
The thing I've learned about negativity... is that you'll never understand it. Negativity in its very existence is an incomprehensible paradox. A black hole. Everyone can somewhat describe it but no one can fully explain it, and the only absolute everyone knows about it, is that if you get close enough you'll be sucked in too. I think we all know an old Sludge, and most of us if we're honest, have had him living rent-free in our heads a lot longer than he deserves. I say it's time to put out the eviction notice. To take your thoughts captive instead of being captive to them. To realize that the deepest recesses of your mind are precious space, a Holy ground that will only ever be owned by One, and no matter how many times you rent out that space to a thousand poisonous people, it's still God who owns the real estate. And He's telling you, "It's time to flip this property." Old Sludge will come back knocking just like he always does, but there's nowhere to lay his head when the house is full. Stop focusing on the negativity that's against you on all sides and just let Jesus move back in... Because this house is just getting started and it's meant to be the home of your dreams.