Note: I’m writing today’s post in honor of my mom, whose birthday is tomorrow and who is one of the most positive people I know. Happy birthday, Mama Bear! I love you to the sky and back!
Obviously I strive my hardest not to be negative and to remove negativity from my life, but even I can’t deny that negativity is oddly alluring sometimes. Negativity can come in many forms — from a critical thought about yourself to an energy-draining individual to something as seemingly harmless as a joke — and it’s not always as easy to identify (or resist!) as you might think.
Negativity is sneaky. It creeps up on you when you’re feeling down; it tries its hardest to pull you away from the positive when you’re feeling good. And sometimes it even comes in the form of disguise, such as some kinds of humor. (Just because it makes you laugh doesn’t mean it’s positive!) We all battle negativity (both internally and externally) from time to time, but one of the best ways I’ve found to combat that sneak little devil is to remind myself of why negativity does absolutely no good.
We all know that, generally speaking, negativity is bad. We cannot control others’ negativity or negative situations, but we can control our own negative thoughts and reactions. Of course, this is often easier said than done. To combat negative thinking, I’ve found that that reflecting on why negativity is so unhealthy and unproductive actually helps me keep the negative thoughts at bay. When negative thoughts, people, or situations try to plague me, I reflect on these five important truths about negativity:
NEGATIVITY IS BORING.
Unfortunately, for a lot of people, it’s easier to be negative than to be positive. It’s very tempting give into (and even embrace) negativity, particularly with so much negativity surrounding us in the media (and sometimes in other people). And particularly because other people will often join in on negative commentary. (Just think of how often you’ve heard someone at work moan, “How is it only Monday!?”) Negativity it commonplace. It’s boring. It’s the easy thing to do — whining about the bad weather or complaining that you’re stressed — and giving into it can feel like a quick fix. It gives you a little rush to vent or whine, but it negativity is so common that focusing it not only makes you less happy, but it also makes you incredibly average. You’re better than average and you know it!
NEGATIVITY IS UNATTRACTIVE.
Though people do sometimes feed off one another’s negativity, people (especially the kind you want to be around!) are also drawn to happy people. Positivity, while not the same as happiness, generally makes you happier and more enjoyable to be around. Think about this: would you rather be around someone who is grumpy and moping and complaining, or would you rather spend time with someone who is always looking for the good in a situation? You aren’t attracted to negative people and positive people certainly won’t be attracted to you if you’re negative. It’s cliche but true: you attract what you are. If you want to attract positivity, you have to be positive.
NEGATIVITY IS POINTLESS.
Much like that old saying worrying, negativity is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere. (Erma Bombeck thought of this great analogy!) While it’s fine to prepare unpleasant outcomes (i.e., backing up your computer files in the event that your computer dies), there’s nothing to be gained from dwelling in negativity. For example, if your computer were to breakdown, it does no good to complain about it, moaning, “Everything always goes wrong! That thing was a complete waste of money!” What would do good is focusing on the positive (a chance to get a new computer or, if that’s not possible, an opportunity to spend time with a friend while you borrow theirs). Positive thinking won’t fix negative situations, but it will help you make the most of them. (Unlike negativity, which adds nothing of value to any situation!)
NEGATIVITY IS TIRING.
Think about something that makes you happy. Now think about the last sad thing you saw. Which thought was more draining? Negativity is emotionally and physically draining. The more you do it, the more of a toll it takes on your mind and body. While it sometimes feels easier to go with the first thought that comes to mind (“ugh, it’s raining again!”), the quick-fix negative thought will ultimately cause more harm than good, particularly if you start out with negativity as you begin your day. You invite one negative thought in and it takes it as an open invitation to bring all its friends (“it’s rainy,” “I’m so tired,” “I have so much to do today,” “I’ll never get it all done,” etc.) One negative thought can lead to another and before you know it, you are emotionally drained from thinking thoughts that make you upset, sad, or angry.
NEGATIVITY IS TIME-CONSUMING.
Because negativity is so emotionally (and physically!) draining, it takes much more of our time than positivity does — even if positive thoughts are sometimes more difficult to conjure up than negative ones. Also, if you allow yourself to think about what might go wrong in a situation, it’s very likely your mind will wander to all of the other possible aspects of life in which something could go wrong. You’ll then begin to worry about those scenarios and your mind won’t be able to help trying to come up with solutions to those nonexistent problems. Before you know it, you’ll have spend loads of time stressing out and analyzing a situation that might never happen! Negativity not only wastes time and emotional energy, but it also often causes you to live in the future, a place that is completely fictional!
Clearly there a lot of reasons not to be negative, but what do you do if you find yourself experiencing negative thoughts? One of the best tactics for preventing negativity from dominating your mind is simply being aware of your thoughts. Often we think without thinking (sounds weird, but consider how much you’ve thought about today without really thinking about it!). Thinking-without-thinking can cause your mind to dwell on certain (often negative) things. Pay attention to your thoughts and, without judging them, try to nudge them in a more positive direction. This will take time, effort, and practice so don’t be hard on yourself if it’s not easy to do. I still struggle with this all the time, and I write about positivity for a living! Whenever you’re struggling to stay positive, try to remember the five reasons why negativity is so not worth it, and you’ll find that it’s just a bit easier to direct your thoughts in a more positive direction.
Nixing negativity and focusing on the positive is an amazing act of self-love. Want to empower yourself with some more serious self-love and acceptance? Start loving yourself (or increase the love you already have for yourself!) with the inspiration and motivation found in Loving Your Self: An Empowering Workbook for Increasing Self-Love. Filled with uplifting encouragement, thought-provoking questions, and engaging exercises, Loving Your Self is an essential tool for mastering the art of self-love. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your own copy here.