This would probably sound ridiculous to my past self. Once upon a time, I was not only very negative — but also convinced that being negative was the way to be. Savvier, better for my emotional survival. A sign of intelligence, being negative.
That’s what I thought.
But over time, I came to realize that my own negativity wasn’t doing me any favors. Yes, it did have the side effect of occasionally protecting me from a situation. But it destroyed even more good things.
And even as I protected myself, I was miserable.
Make no mistake. I’m not always positive. (I think you have to acknowledge negative things in order to be realistic — and deal well with stress and change. Can’t just layer positivity over a bad situation and call it good.)
But I’m definitely a lot more positive than I used to be. And it’s been lifechanging. So much better.
There have been tons of little ways I’ve gradually become a more positive person over the last couple of decades. Countless tiny moments when I could be negative — and my instinct would be — but instead I resist that urge and act in a different way.
And a specific behavior that I find myself doing a lot is resisting the urge to lash out at other people when I get frustrated. Zipping my mouth shut. Sitting on my hands emotionally. Leaving the situation.
And not saying the mean thing that I’ll regret instantly. Especially when I realize it’s not their fault I’m frustrated. They’re just there, as helpless I am to rectify the situation.
Now, I need something to do with that energy. It’s not necessarily easy or healthy to just stop and do nothing with that energy. Thankfully, there are plenty of more constructive things to do with that negative energy… what I’ve found really helpful is finding some way to help someone else. I’ll literally go and find someone I can give an honest compliment to. Or if someone happens my way that needs help with something, I’ll help them with it.
And it works. It really works. I will feel better, and I won’t want to lash out anymore. And I won’t have that weirdness and guilt and conflict that comes from doing something adversarial. Instead, I’ll be happy and satisfied.
Now, does that mean I don’t ever have to be the bad guy? No. There are times when I do have to push back on someone who is being really inappropriate or to take care of a challenging situation. And sometimes this does mean getting negative. But there are lots of other times when I don’t have to do that — and I’m better served by helping someone else and feeling good in the process.