We hear a lot about the benefits of positive thinking, but rarely do we hear about the danger of negative thinking. And, there is danger in negative thinking. It is negativity that has brought on the lack of opportunities, the ruin of relationships, and the loss of jobs.
- Negative thinking results in negative actions. It is true that what you think is what you see. It is what “colors” your perspective of the outside world, and the lens through which you see the outside world. So, if you see work, friends, family members, and general life outside your home through a negative lens, it really is a reflection of your own thinking. And, you will be critical, pessimistic, and argumentative around anyone who is positive. You will look for and see fault in people, places, and things. Let’s just say, you will not be the life of the party.
- Negativity attracts negativity. You attract what you put out in the world. By thinking, speaking, and acting negatively, you are attracting critics, cynics, and negative conversations to you. While you may feel comfortable being in a group of like-minded people, take a step back and look at yourself and your group from the view of someone else. Chances are good you will see unattractive conversation and hopelessness which is not helpful to you or anyone else. Continue to surround yourself with negative people and you will go further down a path of emotional decline. Who are you attracting? The saying is true, you are the average of the five people you hang around the most.
- Negative thinking is the cause of passive-aggressive behavior. Negative thinking causes you to feel disempowered and disenfranchised, like a victim of circumstances with no way out. Feeling this way will cause you to blame others, which leads to a very dangerous undercurrent of passive (no action or ownership) aggressive (hostile and resentful) behavior. Nothing productive results from this kind of conduct.
How to Put an End to the Negativity
You can avoid the dangers of negative thinking. Be aware of what you are thinking and who you are attracting. Understand that while there are problems in the world, at your work, or in your family, you have the power to look for positives and opportunities. You have the power to look for something good in every person, place, or thing that crosses your path. Even if the “good” is that you were able to remove yourself from that situation quickly! I know. I’ve been there! You don’t need to ignore the problems, but when you focus on the positive, you will have the energy and resources to address those problems. In the end, you will be much more satisfied with the results.
How to Recognize Your Own Negativity (Negative Self-Talk) & Stop It
We all have an internal voice that guides us and determines how we perceive every circumstance and situation in our life. When this voice is critical, it is described as or referred to as ‘Negative Self-Talk”. This internal voice is rooted in conscious and unconscious/subconscious assumptions and beliefs.
What Negative Self-Talk Should You Watch Out For?
- Self-Limiting Talk. This is when we think “I can’t tell her how I feel” or “This project is too hard to finish” or “I’ll never be able to make the money I want!” This type of self-talk creates a self-fulfilling prophecy because we assume defeat by telling ourselves that we can’t handle what we are facing. Instead, practice saying something else when these thoughts occur. Say out loud, “I can tell her how I feel, and I will tell her now” or “This project has the challenges I have been looking for, and I want to finish it” or “If I work hard enough it will happen eventually!”
- Jumping to Conclusions. This occurs when we are in an uncomfortable situation. We begin making interpretations instead of stating the facts. We might say “I tried on my skirt and looked disgusting” or “When Betsy talked to me, I made a fool of myself” or “No one is going to buy what I have to offer”. When we do this, we are assuming the worst instead of looking at the facts. We can stop this! When feeling uncomfortable, state that you are uncomfortable with no assumptions about what other people are thinking. For example, “I tried on my skirt, and it didn’t fit as well as I would like” or “When Betsy talked to me, she said some very interesting things” or “My products are great, and I simply have to market to the right buyer.”
- Speech Habits. Speech patterns can be automatic and unnoticeable. Once we are aware of what we are actually saying, we can change the pattern. In response to mistakes, this may sound like “What do you expect from a silly blonde?” or “I’m so stupid!” It shows up in conversations with others as a way to not look conceited. For example, someone tells us we look nice, and we respond, “Yeah, right!” We may try to be humorous, but it isn’t funny. We can stop this by simply becoming aware of how we talk and respond to others. When we catch ourselves saying negative things, we stop and say something positive instead such as, “Thank you, I feel good, too!” or “Oops, I made a mistake.”
Make a decision to stop the negative self-talk and know what you will replace it with. Become aware of when you do the negative self-talk, and practice saying the positive instead. Soon, you will stop the negative self-talk habit.
The Importance of Putting Negative Self-Talk Into Perspective
As we go about our daily lives, we are constantly thinking about the situations we find ourselves in. It’s our inner voice, our self-talk, that determines how we interpret these situations. This self-talk includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious/subconscious assumptions and beliefs. Our self-talk can be both negative and positive, and it is important that we have the proper perspective about our self-talk.
For most of us, our self-talk is reasonable. It is often how we remind ourselves of things that need to be done that day, such as “I’d better begin studying now for that test tomorrow” or “I’m really looking forward to dinner tonight”. But some of the self-talk is negative, unrealistic, and even self-defeating, such as “I’m going to fail this test tomorrow” or “I didn’t play well at all, I’m hopeless”. And when we have more of this type of self-talk, we can begin to have a skewed perception of the world.
Sometimes, our self-talk is wrong. We may have gotten into the habit of self-deprecating comments with others that turned into negative self-talk. Or, we may have experienced something hurtful, and it has colored our self-talk well past the time we should have let go of the hurt.
You Can Challenge Your Negativity
Test and change your self-talk. You can change your negative thinking by being aware of it. Then, challenge the irrational parts and replace them with accurate and reasonable thoughts. With practice, you can learn how to notice your negative self-talk as it happens and consciously choose to think the situation through in a more accurate and helpful way.
Your focus will be to challenge the negative or unhelpful aspects of your self-talk. Ultimately, this will help you feel confident about your ability to respond to situations in a more helpful way. This will take time and practice, but it is worth the effort. You will be surprised at how much of your thinking is inaccurate, exaggerated, or negatively-focused. When you do this, you gain perspective on your thinking, and you can challenge it.
The goal is to get an accurate perspective of your own thinking and make adjustments so that you reduce the amount of negative self-talk and increase the amount of accurate, reasonable, and helpful self-talk. When you accept this challenge and begin to see positive results, you will become much more accurate in your perspective of not only your self-talk but of the situations you experience throughout the day.
How to Deal with Negative People In Your Life
We have all had the experience of a negative friend, family member, or co-worker in our life. It could be someone who complains all the time about her job, but never does anything with the solutions people offer. Or, it could be a good friend who gossips about others and creates drama in your circle of friends.
These people are pessimistic and energy draining. Destructive energy and depressing drama follow them everywhere much like a dark cloud over their heads. If you’re not careful, you can be pulled into their negativity and that can prevent you from reaching your goals or having the life you want.
3 Ways You Can Deal with the Negativity of Others
There are many strategies you can use to deal with the negative people in your life. Here are three you can put to use right away:
- Set Boundaries. You can set limits and distance yourself from the negative person. While you cannot control the negative behavior, but you can control whether or not you engage and accept that negativity into your own thinking and feeling. You can limit the amount of time you spend with them. You can also maintain a level detachment while you are talking with them. This means to not be emotionally attached to the conversation which can be very helpful in determining just how much of their negativity affects you.
- Avoid Complainers. It doesn’t take much time for you to determine that someone will always complain when given a chance. You can make the decision to simply avoid them. Also, if a friend, family member, or co-worker displays the classic symptoms of a complainer, you can walk away.
- Be Aware, But Don’t Over Analyze. Negative people sometimes behave irrationally. Trying to make sense of their actions or complaints really is a waste of time and energy. Do whatever you can to maintain a level of emotional detachment so that you can walk away from them the moment they exhibit the negative behavior.
I do want to caution you to think about whether this person is being negative, or do they need help? If someone is ordinarily positive, but suddenly seems to be complaining a lot, they may be asking for help.
It is up to you to maintain your happiness and well-being. Making the decision to keep the negative people at arm’s length from you, avoiding them when you can, and walking away when you are around negative conversations and behavior will help you to be positive. Eventually, the negative people won’t be attracted to you, and you won’t be bothered by them nearly as much.
5 Tips for Dealing With Negative Comments Aimed At You
It can be difficult to deal with negative comments. Whether they are on a blog post you have written, part of a social media discussion, or said during a dinner conversation, negativity can be hurtful when it’s aimed at you. Rather than silently steam over the hurtful comments or getting angry and striking out at the person, you may want to try these five tips first.
- Avoid Arguing. Determine that you will not engage in an argument with the person. Although your defenses may be up, and you may feel like raising your voice and telling them just how awful they are, try to stay calm and objective. Let them know that you are receptive to what they have to say but that you will not tolerate unhelpful comments or belligerence.
- Ignore Them. One of the better ways of dealing with negative comments is to simply ignore them. Put the comment into perspective by asking yourself if it is true, and if it isn’t, then it’s easy to shrug it off and ignore.
- Be Confident. You can respond to the negativity in a mature way that is confident and constructive especially for those comments that are mean and meant to hurt you. By responding with confidence, you are showing that you are in control of yourself and will not tolerate abuse from anyone.
- Talk It Out. If the comments are happening in person, in real life, or from someone you know, you can take the opportunity to talk to the person. Sometimes comments and remarks, while negative, can be misunderstood. By approaching the person with an open mind and attitude of wanting to learn more from them about why they said what they did, you are offering them an opportunity to explain themselves. It is also an opportunity for you to tell them privately that the comment hurt your feelings. This will go a long way toward making a relationship better.
- Talk to a Friend. Sometimes talking to a friend about the situation can be a useful way to vent your hurt and anger and to get someone else’s input on the situation. This also gives you space and time away from the comment, and talking it over with a friend can help you see things more clearly.
Some people will argue that negative comments can be helpful. You may agree or disagree with this. The important thing is that you give yourself some space and time to think before you respond to any negativity. This will give you the opportunity to see things clearly, talk it over with a friend, determine if the comments are important enough to warrant a response from you, or to put one of the five tips to use.