Shifting negativity


At times we all fall into the trap of complaining and whining about what is not working in the world. We are not alone in this tendency.  All you have to do is check out the editorial section of the local paper and you can instantly see an example of the vocal negative. Not happy.  Go online and more self appointed critics take up residence on blogs, online forums, websites, social media. The more anonymous, the more outspokenly critical people seem to become.

So what has happened? Why are we so inclined to jump down the negative line of conversation than the positive? Why are we so drawn to the glass is half empty?  Or maybe the question should be why is this voice heard louder than the other?

Going negative
I can see why one would argue for expressing the negative.  At times it feels good to vent, get some frustrations out or clear the air.  In a constructive and appropriate setting this process has merits and can be therapeutic.  Likewise as we develop more authentic communication skills it is important that we are able to express our real experiences.

The challenge for most of us though is finding such opportunities for a willing and objective ear.  Our targets are often others who spiral down with us into the emotionally laden blame complain game.

So let's shake things up a bit. Lets not give more energy to the dysfunctional dull roar of negativity underlying so many conversations, experiences and exchanges.


Well here’s my suggestion. It is really not that hard. It is one that everyone can sign up for. It is one everyone can do. It is also a little out of left field as it has nothing to do with what we say and who we talk to. Instead my suggestion works at a different level, your being, your emotional and mental wellness.

Do something
Make a commitment EVERY DAY, yes I said EVERY DAY to do JUST ONE thing that makes a positive difference in your OWN life. Yes I am giving you 100% permission to make your own day wonderful and fabulous. You see I believe that if you do this one thing you might just trigger another and another. 

Then there is this secret, well not so secret anymore, wish that if you are making your own day wonderful you might go and make someone else’s too. Even if you don't actively do so your own positive experience will be a bit catching after awhile.

Doing good is still good until...
For those of you up on motivation this suggestion goes against some of the latest popular conventions. I am well aware of the campaigns, initiatives and in fact research supporting the observation that helping others helps us feel good. We get a buzz when we do good.  I certainly don’t want to cut into this trend. I would rather see more of it.

Yet I also see people who are very giving, selfless, who feel guilty taking a moment out for themselves.  They end up giving, giving, giving and giving and then exhaust themselves. Perhaps the backlash from the selfish earlier decades gave us all a bad scare from taking time out for ourselves.

'Sustaining me'
I am not suggesting you rush off to navel gaze incessantly (though I am a big fan of reflection breaks). However until you stop, take some time out, nurture and care for yourself, how are you going to sustain and maintain your ability to help others?

Yet consider this. If every day you start to do something for you. Then every day you potentially feel better about yourself. Then maybe you will tell others about your experience. Or even better others may share in your experience.  As you do you lift the energy up for you and all around you.  The conversation and other exchanges naturally will shift gradually to more constructively balanced and positive.

Then if you need to indulge in a whinge or a whine it might be the exception rather than the norm.  Plus those around you will see this as important for you and support you in a different way than if all they hear is complaint after complaint.

So what is it you can do today, tomorrow, the next day, that really makes a difference in your life?  How will you shift yourself out of negative gear?


Jenn Shallvey