For some reason, negativity seems to be more contagious that positivity. We seem to be drawn to the negative, the depressing rather than the positive and uplifting. I was part of a group feedback session once and noticed that the person receiving the feedback had received three times as much positive feedback than she had negative but couldn’t help herself from hanging on to the negative.
It seems that we are programmed to be more sensitive to negative feedback, so we hear it louder and clearer, but this isn’t necessarily better. If you want less negativity in your life, then start doing something about it today.
Insanity – doing something over and over again but expecting a different result
Tip #1 – Be conscious
Be conscious about wanting a change. No more wishy-washiness about your intentions. Many people say they want to change but subconsciously sabotage themselves.
Tip #2 – Acknowledge the positive role that negativity has played
Negativity has served you at some point in time. Perhaps it has provided caution when facing risks and the caution paid off. Perhaps it has been a defence mechanism that has kept you from getting hurt. Strange as it may sound, if you acknowledge the part that negativity has played, it will be easier for you to let it go.
Tip #3 – Eliminate sources of negativity
Stay away from negative people. If you must interact with them, then stand up to their negativity. Most of us, for fear of being impolite, just swallow what is served to us. In the case of negative people, you become the sponge that absorbs their negativity so unless you have a way of purging yourself of the negativity, imagine what this is doing to you! 7 tips to dealing with negative people from Zen Habits has some useful suggestions.
Tip #4 – Re-focus, re-frame, change your thinking
Sometimes negativity comes from events and things rather than people. I recall a time when I was having battles with the household laundry. Each time I hung out a load of washing, I would feel a burst of resentment. It was never-ending. Interminable. It seems obvious now that it was just plain stupid to get worked up about something that small and mundane, but I did and it affected my overall mood and my mindset.
I realised eventually that I had the power to do something about it so I chose to re-focus and re-frame. I looked at my children’s clothes and thought how about much I loved them. I looked at my husband’s clothes and wondered at the amazing meals he cooks for us daily. I played some soothing meditation music while I folded the clothes. I am not going to say that I now love the laundry because I don’t but it is no longer a source of negative energy.
Tip #5 – Change your environment
I probably made the laundry story sound a bit too easy but there was more to it. Positive thinking is good in theory but if you can also change your environment, you give yourself a better chance for making it work. In my example, I hadn’t mentioned that part of the problem was a child who was still wetting his bed, so on top of the extra sheets to wash, there was the interrupted sleep to deal with as well. I could have waited until he outgrew this stage but clearly, I’m not that zen!! Solution? Back into pull-ups. That small change in my environment halved the laundry, helped me reclaim my sleep and gave the whole “re-framing” process better odds of working.
My example was deliberately chosen for it’s mundane-ness because it’s usually with the small things that you can make the most impact and in changing the small things, you practise new skills and new ways of thinking which you can then apply to bigger things. Small changes lead to bigger changes.