How to deal with negativity? 6 practical tips
Some tips to keep pessimism and unconstructive mentality at bay.
One of the most widespread cultural traits in Western societies is undoubtedly negativity. Whether it is in the media, in the family environment or coming from ourselves, it is almost automatic to see things from the worst perspective.
The negativity bias makes us filter out only the bad of what happens to us, while the good is less valued or, directly, ignored. How to deal with negativity? It seems like an impossible task, but it is not.
Below we will see what techniques we can follow to deal with this type of pessimistic thinking, as well as delve a little into how we ourselves are largely responsible for our happiness and inner peace.
How do we deal with negativity in our daily lives?
Our degree of inner peace and happiness depends, to a large extent, on ourselves. It is true that there are certain external factors such as the opinions of our loved ones, the media or the world economic situation that can influence us in such a way that we see the world in a negative way, however, we must not forget that we are the ones who decide whether or not to put the filter of negativity on ourselves. it is we ourselves who decide whether or not to put on the filter of negativity..
Despite this truth, this reality is hard to understand. We human beings tend to recreate ourselves in our misfortunes and to blame the rest of people or our destiny for the bad things that happen to us, or that there is no reason to be optimistic in this world. It is normal that we think this way if we only look at what we think is bad. However, we must understand that there is nothing good or bad on its own, but it depends largely on how we see it and, much more importantly, how we deal with it.
Negativity is the set of thoughts, feelings and beliefs that fuel sadness, distress and all sorts of self-destructive behaviors..... If we take a negativity-laden stance, it is normal that we feel that our plans to be happy and obtain inner peace are frustrated since negativity and happiness are opposite concepts. It is like pouring gasoline on a fire and getting angry because it does not go out.
But even though negativity hurts us, we almost never stop to think about whether things are really as bad as we think they are, nor do we make a conscious effort to focus on the good things in life. Of course, we would have to be the unluckiest people in the world for absolutely everything that happens to us to be bad. As we said, it is a question of filters: if the filter is positive, we will focus on the good; if the filter is negative, we will focus on the bad.
If we stop to think and analyze the way we see things, we will surely observe that on many occasions it is our way of seeing things, marked by the most extreme negativity, which feeds our bad mood and pessimism. Good and bad things happen to us, but the bad things become the center of attention and the good things become minuscule.
It can also happen that we are optimistic people or that we make the effort to see the good side of things. However, there is always someone in our environment who sees the good side of things, there is always someone in our environment who sees things badly, excusing that it's just that it's just a matter of time.They excuse themselves by saying that they are simply "realistic" and try to make us see things "as they are". The problem is that his way of seeing the world is not the absolute reality, quite the contrary, but it certainly plunges us a little into misery. It is not that he is a bad person, it is not that he wants to see us suffer, it is simply that his filter of negativity biases the world he perceives, and he does not realize that he is in error.
Whether we are the negative person or a person close to us who exerts an important influence, there are a series of guidelines to get rid of this negativity, helping us to see the good side of the immense world in which we live and to understand that our happiness and inner peace often depends on ourselves and the way we decide how to perceive what happens to us.
Characteristics of negative people
Before going into more detail on how to deal with negativity, let's find out what the main traits of a negative person are, so that we can identify them in ourselves or in people we interact with frequently.
In order to deal with pessimism and negativity bias it is necessary to understand what behaviors are associated with it.. Negative people tend to exhibit the following:
- Excessive comparison with others.
- They always focus on what others have and they do not.
- Poor ability to adapt.
- Excess of dramatization.
- Constant complaining, the main topic of their conversations.
- Surrender to any problem or misfortune, no matter how small.
- Unrealistic decision making.
- Catastrophic thinking.
- They live with negativity.
Strategies for dealing with negativity
Next we are going to learn how to deal with negativity, whether it comes from ourselves or from a loved one, family member, co-worker or any person in our environment that exerts an important influence on our mood.
1. Do not judge others
It is very common for negative people to judge and criticize others. We look for and see every negative trait in other people. We look for their defects, their complexes and anything that we think is wrong with them.. But this does not go with others, it goes with ourselves.
When we look for the bad in others, what we are really doing is projecting what we don't like about ourselves. We judge others to hide how critically and harshly we judge ourselves, because we are not satisfied with the way we are, but we do not want to admit it.
To top it off, constantly looking for the bad in others is not going to get us treated well. No one wants to be around someone who feeds their complexes. It is only a matter of time before if we tell someone that they have gray hair, that they are balding, that they are fat or any other trait that we consider negative, no matter how much that person accepts the way their body is, they will not want us to remind them of the bad things we see in them.
Stopping judging others is a good step to keep negativity away. People will treat us better and we will not be so aware of what is supposedly bad in ourselves or others. No one is perfect, but no one has absolutely nothing good either.We will always find something good in others and in ourselves.
2. Keep negative ideas away
This advice sounds very gratuitous, but it is really possible to get rid of negative ideas, although it is not easy, and the key is not to become obsessed with them or try to eliminate them completely.
It is normal to have deep-rooted negative ways of thinking, mental automatisms that are difficult to realize and stop. They are depressing, pessimistic ideas, sometimes full of hate. However, the fact that they are automatic does not mean that we cannot question them.
It is essential that in order to get rid of negative ideas we first detect them.. They will come all at once, begin to invade our consciousness, overwhelm us, make us angry and interrupt what we were trying to do. At the beginning we will have to make a lot of effort to "stop" them, try to calm down and keep them under control.
It is a matter of practice. If we begin to notice that they start to manifest, let's pause and focus on some source of stimuli or memories with the capacity to capture our attentional focus. If it is something that can be fixed, let's do something about it. If it can't be fixed, there is no point in focusing on it.. Rumination leads to wasted time and energy, and mental fatigue is the gateway to more negativity.
3. Move away from the sources of negativity
As we said, happiness and peace depend on us, but in many occasions there are external factors, difficult to control, that ruin our mood and optimism. We live in an inherently pessimistic society, and this is mainly the fault of the media: the culture of negativity, or rather the culture of fear, is deeply rooted in the media.
All you have to do is watch the news. An attack in such and such a city, a flood in such and such a country, such and such an illustrious personage has just died of cancer? Bad things make the news. Rarely will they talk about anything good that has happened in the world, a place that is too vast and varied for only sad events to happen. The media greatly conditions the way we view the world negatively.
Fortunately, there is something we can do. Keeping ourselves away from the negativity with which we are often bombarded by the media is a very good way to start a new life.is a very good way to start on the road to happiness. It is not that we make an apology that we should be totally ignorant about what is happening in the world, but we must filter the information we want to receive. There are sad news that knowing them is of no use to us, since we cannot do anything to change them, either because it is impossible or because they are too far away.
A good way to filter this information is to to know a good part of the news through local media.. Obviously not everything they put in them will be good news and it is very likely that some unpleasant international news will slip in, however, these media are designed to promote local goods and services, as well as promote local culture and learn about events that have occurred nearby and, therefore, we can do something to help if necessary.
4. Let go of prejudices
Prejudices are beliefs that can give us a false sense of security. After all, having the world deciphered and understood in very specific categories based on little data is a comfortable and quick way of looking at it, and it is also a way of assuming that you have more control over the circumstances. However, prejudices take from us much more than they give us, especially if they are loaded with negativity.
Opening the mind is a very good way to attract happiness and peace of mind.. It means to be awake to new ideas and to know a world that is so immense that it cannot be possible that everything in it is bad. Let us renounce the false securities and certainties of prejudice and allow the entrance to a new reality, letting in love and understanding and letting go of hatred and false beliefs.
5. Focus on the positive
As we said, it is very difficult for everything that happens to us to be bad. Some bad things may happen to us, but good things will also happen. We should not allow the negativity bias to have free reign and make us see only the bad things, nor condemn us to a filter of pessimism..
Focusing on the positive does not mean being unrealistic or downplaying bad things that, in their proper measure, should be taken into serious consideration. It means to stop seeing the world as a terrible, dark and gray place.
6. Do not argue for the sake of arguing
Whether we ourselves are the negative person or we have to relate to one of them, it is common for conversations to turn into arguments. Everyone sees things differently, and the most pessimistic people can even be sarcastic with those who want to see the positive side of things. If he or she doesn't want to see things in a positive light, let's back off a bit.
The idea is not to let him or her off the hook, but to avoid getting into confrontation if it cannot bring objective benefits. If we are the negative ones, we should be able to identify when we are taking a tone that will lead to an argument. Stopping for a while is a very good idea, and we can also try to briefly change the subject, talk about the landscape or something that is inherently neutral.
Discussions can arouse very polarized points of view and bring up arguments that can become another reason for distrust. and bring up arguments that can become another reason to distrust the world, seeing people as people who always want to impose their opinion. That feeds negativity even more.
- Rozin, P.; Royzman, E. B. (2001). "Negativity bias, negativity dominance, and contagion". Personality and Social Psychology Review. 5 (4): 296-320. doi:10.1207/S15327957PSPR0504_2.
- Peeters, G. (1971). "The positive-negative asymmetry: On cognitive consistency and positivity bias". European Journal of Social Psychology. 1 (4): 455-474. doi:10.1002/ejsp.2420010405.