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Today, I was reminded of this Nigerian phrase, ‘bad belle’, which sort of means a bad belly and refers to what I understand to be an evil heart. If people are resentful, jealous or bitter, they would be said to have ‘bad belle’. They are probably what Americans call ‘Haters’. I have realised over the years that bad belle is not always something people consciously decide to have. It can gradually happen, so we need to be very aware of our thoughts, because ‘bad belle’ is dangerous. Our negative thoughts, if not checked, can become negative words and actions that produce negative outcomes. Some people’s bad belle literally starts from comparing their life to that of a friend who seems to have everything good. Instead of being genuinely happy for them, they start to feel jealous and resentful. They find fault in everything the friend does or says, and soon their evil thoughts begin to eat them up from within. Bitterness and unforgiveness are known to manifest themselves in poor mental well-being and sometimes physical ill health. As we prepare for a new year, here are a few tips to drop and avoid bad belle in 2020.

Contentment - When we focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have, we can be grateful and find motivation to carry on. Things may not be how we expected them to be by the end of 2019, but they could definitely be worse! Instead of feeling resentful, upset and disappointed, we can choose to learn from the mistakes, accept the things we cannot change, make new plans, develop new habits and aim higher for 2020. Comparing ourselves to others is never a good idea, because we all had different challenges and opportunities in 2019. Great things will happen when we start from a positive place of strength, rather than dejection. Remember that contentment is not a lack of ambition, but a lack of desperation. 

Forgiveness - Whatever relationships may have gone wrong in 2019, you will be doing yourself a favour by forgiving anyone involved and moving on happily into 2020. Unforgiveness only gives the other person power to keep hurting you after they are gone. When you forgive and wish them well, there is no room for bad belle, and you will attract better relationships. Decide in your heart to let go of any discrimination, injustice and deception you experienced. Forgive yourself too, for any part you may have played. Doing this helps us to enjoy new relationships, opportunities and experiences with nothing holding us back. Forgiveness does not mean letting people fool or use you, over and over again. It is about choosing love, wanting happiness, valuing peace, learning and moving on. 

Confidence - We should not let the fear of what people think hold us back in 2020. We cannot control whether other people develop bad belle towards us, but we can manage our own attitude towards them. We can choose to be kind, humble and sensitive, even when successful. It is not your responsibility to make other people happy, it is more important to fulfil your purpose and be the best you can be. Happiness is a choice everyone has to make for him/herself. If your doing well makes someone unhappy, that is not your fault. If you are genuinely doing good, they will soon realise that their bad belle can only hold them back, not you. Be confident in the good you are doing. There is no reason to dumb yourself down or lower your high standards to satisfy other people’s insecurities. Walk confidently into 2020 and expect good things. 

Decluttering - Many of us regularly take time to declutter our homes, but it is even more important to declutter our minds and social circles. Time is very precious these days, so it is good to choose friends and associations wisely so you are not wasting time on harmful relationships. Some people are better loved from a distance, some are good for daily contact, while others are best kept to a minimum. Only you know how a relationship really makes you feel or adds to your life. If it is a relationship worth fighting for, take some time to iron things out and start 2020 together on a good page. If you have too many ‘friendships’ that add more stress than happiness to your life, make a conscious decision about which ones you want to continue actively in 2020 and which ones can be allowed to fizzle down. You may not even need to say anything - you just might notice that they never valued you as much as you value them, because they just won’t contact you when you stop contacting them! We cannot be best friends with everyone, so choosing a few good and inspiring friends may be the best thing you can do for yourself for 2020. 

Self-improvement - Life begins to feel stale when there is no progress. As children, we had school, exams and stages to look forward to. We can easily become stagnant as adults when we feel that we have gone through it all, but it is possible to keep growing even as adults. Setting goals and taking on new challenges can give us more zest for life and prevent bad belle. Think of those things you always wanted to learn or do, make plans towards them for 2020. It is never too late when there is a will. Even if you feel that you have not yet found your purpose in life or feel you have somehow lost your chance, you can plug in with others to support a good cause. No great man or woman achieved anything on their own. Working with others helps us to grow and contribute to something bigger. Most people who have bad belle are actually unhappy with their own lives. If you do not like anything about your life, be ready to do what it takes to change it or accept it. It is easy to feel jealous about the good in other people’s lives, but nothing good comes easy. Be ready to do the work for whatever it is you admire, instead of making room for envy in your heart. Nip those negative thoughts in the bud when they start to creep up, and choose happiness over stress. 

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