Why do we focus on the ‘one’ negative rather than the twenty positives?
I asked the question last week in my blog, ‘why is it we always focus on the one negative when there may be twenty positives?!’
This week has really tested me regarding the negatives and it has been kind of hard to try to find the positives – I do have lots of positives in my life but when you have negative after negative, or seemingly negative, happening then it does become a challenge to focus on these positives or, to turn what, at the time, appeared to be a negative into a positive.
So, why does this happen? Why is it so ingrained into some of us to focus on the negative? According to www.psychcentral.com
1.) "The brain gives more attention to negative experiences over positive ones because negative events pose a chance of DANGER. By default, the brain alerts itself to potential threats in the environment, and... THEN awareness of positive aspects suddenly takes a lot more deliberate effort." (We become hyper-focused on the negative, so we have a hard time seeing, hearing, or feeling positive.)
2.) It is this naturally occurring "start of negative" & then..."constant negative" feedback loop at play that, if NOT interrupted or countered, can lead to significant psychological distress. “It is this vicious cycle that leads so many people spiralling down rabbit holes of depression and extreme anxiety."
3.) This is exactly why you have to make the strong effort to "counteract" the negative thoughts & focus when it occurs. You have to make pro-active efforts to DO things that will change your thinking & how you feel, OR, you will continue to get taken over by the negative & get caught in the loop.
Being in the Industry I am in I have had my fair share of negative comments about my appearance, my fitness, my knowledge, my experience, my prices, the timing of my classes, the content of my classes, the venues I use for my classes and many more. I’ve also had plenty of negativity about my personal life as well – my work, my partner, my daughters, where I live, my house, my friends, what I eat, what I drink, the exercise I do, the list goes on and on! And I always remember the one negative say in a work evaluation, an exam, a conversation, in a relationship and such like but not the many things that are positive – it can be so frustrating and really does have a detrimental effect on your health and well-being.
It’s not just me
I’m guessing I’m not the only one, I am sure many of you who are reading this are thinking the same and that you’ve also been at the receiving end of a lot of negativity and that this is what you dwell on and it does, at times, seem to take over. I’m sure we’ve also all, even if unintentionally, caused other people to feel negative because of something we’ve said or done. If ever I have done this, again, I also feel the negativity of the situation, even if it’s not in my control how the other person has responded.
I’m quite a sensitive, at times emotional, person and I have been prone to wear my heart on my sleeve but I also have been known to bottle up how I feel (not a good thing as it always comes out in the end, not necessarily in the way you want it to either!) and keep quiet about things when maybe I should have stuck up for myself more. Problem has been though when I have taken this stance I’ve more often than not again received negativity which perpetuates the cycle and I bottle things up again.
There are people out there who are the complete opposite to me and negativity just washes over them. They often don’t even think that what they’re saying or doing is negative or they do and it simply just doesn’t bother them. Sometimes I wish I could be like that and I have been told to toughen up, be less sensitive, develop a harder outer shell, don’t take it to heart but then I wouldn’t be me and everything that goes with being me. Like I said in the previous blog I am working on being true to myself and if this is part of who I am then so be it but I do take on board their comments and, if how I react or feel is detrimental to my well-being then yes I need to do something about it.
I personally don’t intend to cause unnecessary hurt or negativity in any one else’s life and I would expect to be treated the same by other people. I also expect to be able to express myself as I see fit if someone has caused negativity or hurt in my life but in a calm, controlled and reasonable manner. However, life, as we know, isn’t like that and we all need to have strategies in place to be able to manage those pesky negative thoughts in a more controlled way and to start seeing them as opportunities for learning and for further development.
So what can I, and you, do?
1: Remember … it’s not personal, it’s not necessarily about you – in fact in most cases it’s about the person whose behaviour in some way has made a negative impact on you. And even if your behaviour and actions have caused negativity in another person then, as long as you weren’t acting with deliberate intent, how that other person reacts is their choice not yours – you cannot control how other people react to what you do or say, that is all their doing and something they need to learn to manage.
2: It doesn’t have to be a negative experience; it could be just the push you need to change something that means ultimately it’s been a positive experience.
3: If something somebody says or does hurts you, offends you, upsets you then let them know but … do so in a way that’s beneficial to you, and hopefully to them, and in a calm manner. The more you can actually verbalise/write down how you feel in response to comments and actions that affect you negatively the more you will become better at handling them. Letting things fester only harms you and you may end up behaving in a way or saying things you don’t want to.
4: Look around you at the people who you spend most of your time with – are they more negative than positive? Do they moan and/or complain a lot? Are they glass half empty or half full people? If you want to avoid falling into a negative spiral you really need to be surrounding yourself with more positive, like-minded people – those who support you, those who lift you up, motivate and inspire you and offer constructive, not negative, criticism/comments if required.
5: Be grateful, be thankful – it doesn’t have to be something big that you’re grateful for; it could just be something as simple as having time to read a book. The more you are grateful or thankful the more your brain will register this and, again, the more able you are to cope with those times that aren’t so positive. Write down 3-5 things you are grateful for every day so you get into the habit of doing so.
6: Take time out before reacting and ask yourself, in the big scheme of things, does this really matter, in a year’s time will this still be having the same effect on me? If the answer is no then just let it go and focus on what is good in your life, avoid dwelling on the negativity and whether or not you could have done something different, this is only going to bring you down more. It’s happened, it’s done, learn from it and move on.
7: Don’t feel like you have to justify yourself for who or what you are, or that you have to curtail yourself based on the negativity of others – focus on your dreams and goals and take steps towards them, there will always be things, situations, people who will hinder and create negativity. Be confident in who and what you are and always try to find/see the good/opportunity in a situation/person/experience and learn from them or it. Don't be afraid to be you!
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