In the first part of this series, we discussed the dangers of negative thinking and negative self-talk. We then moved on to negativity coming from others. In this post let’s continue looking at negativity, including ways to remove negative emotions from our lives (at least as much as possible).
Negative emotions affect everyone the same way: badly. Anger, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, resentment, and more are all examples of negative emotions. Each of these emotions has the power to cause physical illness. The good news is that everyone has a choice to either allow the negative to dominate their thoughts or to find the positive in the situation.
Many negative emotions come from blaming someone or something for the negative situation that happens in life.
While my ex definitely had his part in negativity to my life, it was up to me to not stay in that place.
The problem is that people hold on to those negative emotions. Much like a splinter you get in the hand, those negative emotions fester and get stronger blocking out hope of getting past them.
Finding Something Positive
Train your mind to think and look for the positive in every situation. This takes practice and begins with understanding that your thoughts control your emotions. The next time you find yourself in a negative situation, leave the environment and find a place where you feel safe and calm. Now, put the incident into perspective. You can ask yourself these questions:
- Are you overreacting?
- What is the worst thing that can happen?
- Could you lose a friend?
- Is this worth the energy of you being angry?
- How would this be different if you just let it go?
As you are asking yourself these questions, you will find that you are calming yourself and gaining perspective on the situation. You may not be happy that the incident occurred, but now you can see how you can either change it or walk away from it. Either way, you have regained the power of choice and that is a positive thing.
Another way to approach this is by looking at the situation as a problem that you must find a solution for. By doing this, you now place yourself in the position of thinking through multiple possibilities of how this problem can be solved. The result will be that you see the problem differently. Sometimes, you are able to see that this problem is actually an opportunity for you to learn something new.
You Have Control over Negative Emotions
You have control of your thoughts, and you have control of your emotions. You are responsible for how you respond to the negative situation. Whether or not you had anything to do with the negative situation, maybe you had no involvement at all and were simply thrust into the situation, but you are responsible for how you respond. You can decide to look for the positive in every situation by simply saying so. Say it out loud, “I will look for the positive in this situation,” and you will begin to see the situation differently.
When and How To Cut Negative People From Your Life
In day to day life, you encounter many different types of people: the good, the bad, the positive, and the negative. It is your choice who you let into your life and who you keep out. When you make the decision that you will remove the negative people from your life, you are well on your way to having the life you want.
Surrounding yourself with positive people who encourage and support you as you learn new things and grow is wonderful. But, it is possible for one of these positive people to become negative. Whether it is because they experience tragedy in their life, they have been hurt and are resentful and angry, or something else, they are now a negative influence on you, and you need to remove them from your life. This doesn’t mean you have to remove them permanently. It could be that you decide to remove them temporarily until they work through the anger and hurt that is making them so negative.
When Do You Cut Them From Your Life?
The easy answer is – when they begin causing you harm. The difficult part is recognizing what the harm is. It will begin with you being uncomfortable around the person. Or, when you find yourself feeling and thinking negatively after spending time with them. This is when you need to become aware of just how negative they are, and the influence they are having on you.
Some signs that they are negative and you will benefit from cutting them from your life:
- They complain all the time and are not interested in hearing solutions.
- They gossip about others and put others down.
- They like to play Devil’s Advocate when you share something good in your life or share your goals with them.
- They are unsupportive or dismissive of you when you talk about how you think or feel about something.
- They love to blame others as the reason for their unhappiness.
- They are critical of others and unwilling to take responsibility for their own faults.
How to Cut Them From Your Life
Accept that it might be a process and not something you can do after one conversation. It will depend on the type of relationship you have with the person.
Here are some options for you:
- Don’t feel like you owe them an explanation. Tell them how you feel, a subject that is not open for debate. Maybe say that you’ve been getting a lot of negative energy from them and simply don’t want that in your life.
- Disconnect from them on social media. Hide their updates or remove them from your connections.
- Consider creating distance instead of separation. Occupy your time with other friends and activities being careful to limit your time with them.
- Make a point of being more positive around them. Be positive on purpose. Much like the “kill them with kindness” approach, by being more positive you may actually help them to improve – or make it easy for them to walk away from you.
Use Other People’s Negativity To Motivate You And Spur You To Action
There are many people who want others, and you, to fail. They will gloat every time you make a mistake. They will make negative comments every time you talk about what you are working on. They will pass judgment on what you are doing and sometimes leave you wondering if you are on the right track.
“The best revenge is massive success.” — Frank Sinatra
Vow to show them they are wrong. If you are hearing comments that are bringing you down, there are two ways of looking at them. One way is to say, “Maybe I am going to fail!” Another way to look at it is, “I have never done this so I don’t know what it means to fail.” This is the better approach.
As you move forward and take action on your goals, use those negative comments as a challenge for you to succeed. Use that energy as fuel; let them say what they want, you are going to succeed and show them how wrong they are!
Break Through Your Fear
When you have the attitude of showing them they are wrong, you will have what you need to break through the fear. The fear occurs when you are trying something new or about to take a different direction than you had planned. It is something new. You aren’t sure of what will happen. Because you know that you need to go this way because you have done your homework, you will be able to break through the fear and ignore the naysayers.
Positive Thinking Wins the Day
As you break through the fear, your confidence level will increase, and you will see the positive things you learned about yourself. This is what will carry you through the next obstacle. And, there will be more obstacles. Because you are focused and taking action in spite of being fearful and in spite of the negative comments and negative feelings thrown your way, you have the positive attitude that you will succeed…because you already have.
5 Tips for Overcoming Negativity
It begins with a thought or feeling, maybe in response to someone else saying something negative or mean. Then, it begins to drag you down. Your thoughts are focused on how negative you feel, and then, your thoughts become negative. You begin worrying about things. You begin to feel sorry for yourself. Maybe your self-talk has turned to the negative such as “Oh, what’s the point of trying?” or “I’m always making mistakes.”
There are many things you can do to overcome this negativity. Here are 5 tips to get you started:
- Look for and find the good. Counteract the negative with good questions. Questions that will help you feel better but also learn so you can grow.
- What’s one good thing about this situation?
- What’s one thing I can do differently the next time to likely have a better outcome?
- What’s one thing I can learn from this?
- How would my best friend support and help me in this situation?
- Celebrate your achievements. First, remind yourself of recent achievements such as making a sales goal, landing a new client, winning a game, finishing a race, or finishing the writing of a book. Then, share it with the world, your group of friends, or your family, and invite them to celebrate with you.
- Read an uplifting book. Read about someone who struggled and was victorious. Look for a new person to admire, and read their biography. Ask your family and friends for recommendations; read the book; then, discuss it with the person who recommended it to you.
- Talk it out. Seek out a trusted friend and talk it out. Vent the anger. Express the fear. Talk about the self-doubt. Whatever the negativity is, share it with them, and you cut the feeling in half. And by sharing, you open yourself to solutions. Your friend could provide you with a new perspective that will enable you to break free of the negativity completely.
- Do a good deed. Look for someone less fortunate than you and help them whether it is by serving a meal in a soup kitchen or helping someone talk through their problem. The power that helping has on emotions has been documented scientifically as one of the most important components of happiness. This could mean anything from the smallest act to acts of great kindness. The result will be the same: an uplifting feeling of satisfaction and escape from your negative thinking.
When It’s Time To Ask For Help
Everyone experiences negative emotions and pessimism from time to time. We all have moments and days of feeling down, tired, and unable to focus our attention. Whether it is due to tragedy, experiencing failure, side effects from medication, or not eating correctly, we know the feeling of ‘having the blues’. But when does it turn from pessimism and negative-thinking into depression?
That is difficult to answer because it isn’t always an either-or kind of thing. Instead, let’s look at when it is time to ask for help. First, we must understand the symptoms. Then, we can look at the causes.
According to the University of Texas Counseling and Mental Health Center (https://cmhc.utexas.edu/depression.html), these are the common symptoms of depression:
- sleeping much more or much less than usual
- eating much more or much less than usual
- feeling fatigued, lacking energy
- frequent headaches, stomachaches, or otherwise inexplicable aches and pains
- diminished interest in and enjoyment of previously pleasurable activities, such as going out with friends, sports, hobbies, sex, etc.
- difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- neglecting responsibilities and personal appearance
- depressed mood – this can mean feeling down, irritable, pessimistic, guilty, anxious, empty, etc.
- suicidal thoughts
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- feelings of worthlessness
And these are possible contributing factors to depression:
- Environmental:Cramped living conditions, bad roommate situation, money problems, car problems, holidays you’re not looking forward to, having a tough time with classes, too much pressure on you, feeling helpless to change your environment, loss of something significant (a job, a dream, etc.), being victimized (assault, robbery, rape, etc.).
- Interpersonal:Relationship problems or breakup, conflicts with family members, the death of a significant person in your life, the anniversary of a loss, feeling like people are taking advantage of you, unresolved anger or guilt, feeling helpless to make changes in important relationships.
- Physical/Medical/Biological:Genetic predisposition (depression runs in the family), chemical imbalances, dealing with illness or infection, sleep deprivation, chronic anxiety.
- Diet/Exercise:Getting by on fast food, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and other relatively non-nutritious items, substance abuse, lack of exercise.
- Thought Patterns:Self-criticism, pessimistic thinking, expecting the worst.
- Spiritual/Existential/Philosophical:Doubts about the meaning of life, questions about your own religious beliefs, a sense that you’re somehow missing out on your true calling or that you’re not being true to yourself, your dreams, your beliefs.
If you have been experiencing symptoms and can identify the cause, then it is a good time to make a telephone call to your nearest mental health center and ask for help.
Finally, there are online assessment tools, books you can read, and many ways that you can attempt to self-diagnose depression. If you have been feeling these negative emotions for a period of time and can’t seem to shake it off, then call for help.