Psychologically, negativity is a link to our brains attempt at processing potential danger in an effort to avoid said danger in the future. That is the primary reason negativity sticks in our minds. There are more reasons, some of you may have never thought about, which is why I'm compelled to write about them. In truth... I hope to activate that same part of your brain that recognizes dangers and tries to find ways to avoid them because if you do realize the monumental danger 'sticky' negativity can create, you might just never go there again. On the flip side, if you see how enthusiasm and optimism generate enormous energy for good, you might just jump on that ship instead of living somewhere in the middle, like most people you know.
So we know negativity links to ancient brain power, but did you know that it also links to social brain power. Did you know you can get a leg up, so to speak, in social networks by spouting out negative shit all the time? How do you think news stations get ratings? The first to the scene wins the audience, right? Have you ever spouted a tidbit of juicy gossip just to get a reaction from your friends? Of course you have. Who hasn't? But why do we do that? Because it's fun to see people react, and it gives us a chance to take the stage for a moment. Socially, we all need time with everyone's eyes on us. It's not something we need to survive, it's something we need to thrive. We love energy, even when it's negative. Watch kids try to get their parents attention by being snotty and rude. It happens every day. We all live for some type of energy and attention and negativity can be a vehicle to get those things. If you've already figured out that this is your mode of operations, and you generously dish out juicy, negative garbage all the time, maybe you haven't looked at the full consequences of that behavior. Maybe you should. Maybe we will together right now!
Here are the facts. Someone is watching you when you speak. Unless you talk to yourself all the time, which most people don't, someone is paying attention, but not just to your words. Someone is subconsciously picking up on your body language, tone, and general outlook on life. Those "someones," are learning from you whether you intend to teach them or not and those same someones will take one of three paths forward in their own life. They will either ignore you and you won't see them again. Or they will shut you down and lead you to a better place. Or they will begin to mirror you, ever so slightly, until they become just like you. Can you see how effective your attitude is?
If you're a positive person, for that matter, you'll have the same effect. You're being watched, and someone is learning from you. What do you suppose they are learning? If we take the negative train down the tracks far enough, you can actually see how your negativity influences people around you and in turn, if they take option three, they influence others in the same way, then more and more follow, until everyone in your circles of influence stick in the mud of negativity. But eventually, hopefully, someone breaks the cycle. Who's going to break the cycle? Could you be that someone?
Here's another fact. Did you know that negativity can cause brain damage? Forbes Magazine wrote an article about this. Check it out: Forbes Article and if that's true, just think about how spouting negativity and sharing it with the world is actually making you a slower, dumber person. Negativity, if not checked and turned around, can also lead to chronic stress and according to Psychology Today: Stress Article. Which means what?
Chronic stress creates the stress hormone, cortisol, which is "public enemy number one" when it comes to your personal health and lifespan. Cortisol is like battery acid on human tissue. It destroys it. Nobody wants that. Nobody wants a constant surge of poison streaming through their blood. Now, if you look at the costs of being negative and also realize how your patterns can transfer to people around you, and even cause your loved ones to suffer from chronic stress and health issues, you might just consider that being negative is the shittiest thing you could possibly be.
We also have to consider the concept of momentum in all this. There's an old story I grew up with that illustrates this perfectly and I'll summarize it here. The title of the story was "Fix your broken windows." The premise of the story was that if a home has a broken window that hasn't been fixed in a long while, the neighbor kids will think it's not important and begin throwing rocks at it. After all, it's broken, so who cares, right? Then... once one window is broken, why not go after the others too? This is how negative cycles start and grow into monsters. So fix your windows or else face the momentum that naturally generates with neglect.
The reason I wanted to share that story is that negativity, even little bouts of complaining about small things, can build momentum in your personality and before you know it you're a full blow negative addict that can't turn off the news and has to tell everyone all about the latest shit storm that's happening somewhere. But if you can notice the power of momentum, you can reverse it! You can become that person that everyone looks up to because you're so fantastic to be around. Do you want to be that person one day? I hope so. It's part of human nature to progress toward maturity and leadership. Some people adopt positivity early and some later in life, the point is... what about you. Where are you at? When are you going to adopt positivity? Maybe you have and you want to share this article with someone you love who hasn't. Maybe you want to help break the cycles of sticky negativity.
Just one more fact for you: If you dream of a better life, and you're stuck in negativity, you can't get that better life by complaining about the one you have. You can fool yourself into thinking that if you complain enough you'll finally feel enough pain to cut the cord to the life you have and start a new one. But guess what... it doesn't work that way! Talk to any top-notch personal development coach, psychologist, social worker, rehabilitated convict, rehabilitated drug addict, or cancer survivor. If your life is so painful you need to complain about it, then you need to find a solution right now. You need to stop complaining now! Spend the money to move, or pay for a doctors visit, or hire a coach, but be conscious of the fact that if you don't do something, if you constantly complain, you're falling into the category of the chronic complainer and you already know what that does to your body, brain, and social circles.
So how does one correct chronic negativity about the world or about themselves?
Answer: 3 STEPS
1. HEIGHTEN YOUR AWARENESS TO YOUR OWN PATTERNS
Look in the mirror. Ask yourself, "Do I dare ask someone else, someone who I look up to, admire, or trust, if I'm a negative person?" If you answer yes, then go ask that person and get real feedback. If you answer no, then you already know the truth about yourself. I don't even have to tell you.
2. STOP YOUR PATTERNS BEFORE THEY SHOW UP AND WHEN THEY SHOW UP
Science has come a long way, but there isn't much tech out there that can help stop negative patterns. We still rely on old, honest, brain power for this one. The good news is, you have brain power. All you have to do is literally visualize a conversation that might take place in the future (perhaps even a conversation with yourself) and practice stopping the negativity in that conversation. Then when it actually happens, you get to practice stopping it again. If you fail. Notice your response. If it's negative... that's another opportunity to stop the negativity right there. Other things that help are support groups, mentors, coaching, and better media choices. Don't listen to shit on the radio, don't watch shit on television, and don't engage in shitty conversations with others. Stop the patterns that exist with vigor and force, so that new patterns can emerge.
3. START A NEW PATTERN
Now that you've conquered the things you have to stop doing, it's time to conquer the things you have to start doing. The fact is, if you stop being negative, it doesn't mean you're a positive person. It means you're a neutral person. Positivity and optimism are special, powerful forces that can be learned and used every single day to make everything about life unbelievably amazing. If you learn those skills, you can do things you never even dreamed possible. It means you can do anything. Not everything! Nobody can do everything all at once... I said, "you can do anything." If you put a laser focus on any task and apply positivity, enthusiasm, optimism, and energy, you can do it. If you can see it, you can do it! You are already good at being realistic about things. Your brain is pre-wired to look for hazards. I'm not suggesting you go blindly forward like an ignorant idiot. But I am suggesting you develop a new pattern of positivity and enthusiasm to propel you forward like a rocket leaving planet earth.
Just look around you. Who do you look up to? Who do you admire? Who do you wish you could be like? I'm not saying, "what do you want that they have?" I'm saying "who?" What is it about that person's personality that is so attractive? I bet you can guess. So now I have a challenge for you, and here it is:
Take those three steps today! Re-read those three steps and begin today re-writing your future because there is a place, or should I say, "state of mind," where no matter what happens around you, you prove to be resilient, even happy and lead where others only react. I want to meet you in that place. Will you join me?
Please comment below. I love hearing from you.