Don't Let The Negativity Slip In
Negativity is a cancer! There is no doubt about it and if you let it in it will destroy you. If it infects your mind, it will come out in your speech and your actions. You can’t escape it, it’s everywhere. As a society we focus on the negative in whatever situation we’re looking at. In our personal lives we replay negative moments in time over and over and over and we let the positive ones slip by. Why does this happen? Can we move past it? I think so.
It’s All Around Us
Is it possible to escape negativity? It seems to be everywhere. It’s on television shows, news channels, in marketing, in the news feed of whatever social media account your using, and just with everyday people interactions. In marketing we are constantly bombarded with negative ads to make us feel worse about ourselves. Especially when it comes to body image. Whether it’s telling people that they need to look a certain way, do a certain thing, or buy a certain product it’s not marketed in a positive way. It’s instead marketed in a negative way as though they are saying their product makes you happy and if you don’t have it you won’t be happy. And we fall for it. Then we realize that it doesn’t create happiness and we are back to square one. Then, what about the feed on whatever social media platform you’re on. There is constant negativity, people ranting, being angry, online bullying, or trolling. The word troll was so relevant that this year Webster’s Dictionary made it an official word. That word is only associated with being negative for no good reason other than to stir the pot and cause controversy. The news is another place full of negative stories. It seems that it’s one bad story after another about this violent act, or that abuse story. It actually became so bad that I stopped watching, reading, or listening to anything coming from a news channel. You see I like to talk about what’s going on in the world especially with my clients because there are a ton of great conversational pieces. But one day I noticed that every single story I was talking about was something negative so I stopped watching, reading, and listening. I know there is positive story capability out there. There are lots of great people doing lots of great things but the stories about those great people don’t seem to get written. So why don’t they take the time to put those stories out? I’m not saying they have to stop talking about all the negative news but why not show the viewer or reader that yes, there is some good happening out there.
There is a reason that we see negativity all around us, that marketing in a negative way works, and why people would rather talk about something bad that happens instead of something good. It’s our brains. We can’t help it because our brains absorb positive and negative stimuli in very different ways. The amygdala, which is the alarm bell for your brain, uses around 2/3 of its neurons to look for bad news. That means it’s more programmed to go negative more than it is to go positive. This intake of information happens really quickly too. There was a study in which people were shown different faces of other people showing different emotional looks. They found that everyone can identify angry faces faster than happy ones (I’m talking like just a tenth of a second or so, for them to get stimuli from an angry face). That is so fast that it’s not conscious recognition, the brain just does what it’s programmed. In no time whatsoever the brain stores negative stimuli into the long term-memory bank. On the flip side it takes 12 seconds or more for positive stimuli to be transferred to long-term memory. Maybe that’s why we can remember all the times someone has wronged us so vividly but the times they have done something nice for us become few and far between. Rick Hanson, a psychologist, author, and teacher of personal growth and happiness, has a really great way of putting it, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.” Once I found out this information it makes sense why news channels and marketing tend to go negative over positive, because it helps them stay in the heads of all the people they are trying to get to buy into their product. If they went the positive route it would take a lot longer to win us over.
We Are Not All Even
Another element to think about is that we are not all even when it comes to negative and positive experiences. There was a study published in the The Journal of Abnormal Psychology, it was done by Jason Moser and some of his colleagues at Michigan State University. Just like in lots of other areas of life some people are just born a certain way. There are actually negative and positive people, not just in thought but in the fibre of their being. Let’s look at it like this: Say +10 is the happiest you can be and -10 is the saddest and most negative you can be. Now we aren’t all starting at 0. Some of us may be starting at +5 and therefore will have an easier time getting to a positive mind state while some of us might be starting at -3 and have to work that much harder to stay positive. This study also found that people that are more negative actually get worse when told to “think positive”. So what do we have to do? We have to…
…Change the approach
When approaching different situations its about finding the right strategy that works for each individual person. What works for person A might not work for person B and vice versa. Currently, when we approach situations, we look at it the wrong way. When we make choices we are basing it off of a need to avoid negative experiences versus a desire to attain a positive experience. We are all guilty of this. Convincing ourselves to not do something because we think of it like “but what if I get shot down?” or “I would but I don’t want to get embarrassed” or “I think it will be too difficult for me to complete”. Instead we need to flip it and think about all the positives that could come from doing whatever it is we are scared of. I know, easier said than done but you have to take it one step at a time.
Don’t Even Think It
My favourite quote of all time is so applicable in this moment. I’ve seen this quote by Margaret Thatcher, Mahatma Gandhi, Lao Tzu, and Frank Outlaw so I don’t know who came up with it but it’s great and it goes like this:
“Watch your thoughts for they become words,
Watch your words for they become your actions,
Watch your actions for they become your habits,
Watch your habits for they become your character,
Watch your character for it becomes your destiny.”
For me this is a ‘you reap what you sow’ type of message. If you think negatively and keep thinking negatively it won’t take long for everything to follow a negative path. I believe and love this message so much that I got it tattooed on my back. In my house growing up that quote was on the wall in a frame and I looked at it all the time, just engraining that belief into my head. Life is much too short to live in a negative state of mind. And being positive makes life so much more fun and valuable. Now there is not scientific proof for this but I truly believe if you let the negative thoughts stay in your head it will be a cascading effect that comes out through your character and affect your destiny. So think positive!!
In conclusion, just know that you are going to have to work much harder to stay positive. Life is literally working against you in almost every way. Even 62% of emotional words are negative and only 32% are positive. We can even explain our negativity better than we can our positivity. But that doesn’t mean give up, it just means you need to find the right tools to help you stay in a positive light. And why wouldn’t you want to be that happy-go-lucky person who is always enjoying life? It’s so great! There are way too many amazing things out there to be sitting back, brewing negativity, and missing out on life! Have you found the right tools to stay positive in a negative world? Do you feel you more like a negative person or a positive person? Let me know in the comments below. If you like this post and like what we do on this blog, we encourage you to spread the word and share this with friends and family.
- Papa Bird