Let’s change how we think about negativity

We all know what negativity feels like, but do we spend much time thinking about what our negativity means?

Written by Olan Harrington


We all know what negativity feels like, but I am not sure we spend much time thinking about what our negativity means. It’s no accident that we have this outlook on negativity. Human beings are naturally hard wired to be positive. We explicate this idea in our thoughts and in our actions. But so often our quest to lead a more positive and meaningful life can only maintain so much endurance. We are encouraged to view negativity as something which can be lived without and even discarded. So maybe we are hardwired further to feel this way about negativity. But what if we looked at negativity a different way?

What if we viewed it as a call to action on our emotions? Like a friend who knocks in the middle of the night to let you know that something is wrong. At a certain point in our lives we learn to leave negativity behind us, and we learn that not every negative thought will turn into a negative life. But the grip of negativity is sometimes so tight that we cannot escape it. Negativity can cause intense fears and despair in our lives when unchecked. These are the fears and despairs that are sometimes ignored in the face of projecting positivity.

Negativity is a form of internal monologue, a story teller within us that highlights the darkest moments of our lives. Our negativity can expound our deepest emotions, and if ignored these can grow, and fester and end up controlling our lives until you are crippled by it. Humans are the only animals on earth that can think about our futures. Our futures are determined by the attitude and feelings that we have at the time and how we act on reality. But what if that reality is distorted by a hidden negativity that you don't realise is there? What if you ignore this call to action in place of being more positive?

A call to action can take many forms. An epiphany in our positivity, a lightbulb moment in which perhaps you realise that the career path you have chosen is not the right one for you, or the relationship that you’re in is harmful. What if all those moments are generated, not from the lack of positivity in our lives, but from our friend, negativity, knocking on our door to let us know that something is wrong? Can changing how we think about negativity help how your body responds to negativity? Maybe if we think of negativity as our personal narrative telling us that something is wrong and needs to be changed, then it could be a more healthy process?

In negativity, we can read the narrative of our darker selves. Our own inner monologue that allows us to understand what is going on with the less happy part of our lives. Life itself is pretty boring most days. We get up, we eat breakfast, we go to work, school or college and we just live. So often we are told that keeping a positive attitude is the way forward, but what if it is a lot more about balance than tuning your brain into one singular wavelength? But I have a confession to make – I have been a practitioner of positivity for as long as I can remember, believing that positivity can help you overcome anything.

But that was until I was diagnosed with depression last year. I used to say that negativity is harmful to you, that it will affect your future. I was wrong. Negativity can offer you a narrative of your life that is often so allusive to us – the truth. It is important to feel your negativity. Because if you can feel it then you know its there, and then you can deal with it. Rather than push negativity away, it’s important to realise it is there so that you can deal with it. More important is that it’s ok to feel this way. We should view negativity as an opportunity to cultivate something that is positive rather than experiencing it as something to be ignored. Sometimes it’s your negativity that will guide you through your toughest times. Our negativity can be a possibility for productivity. For realising that there is something which needs to be solved. Negativity can be transformed into positive energy if we can just learn how to listen to it.

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