Many of us don’t like negativity. When others are being negative, we seek to cheer them up (and when they remain negative, we prefer to avoid them). When we are being negative, we seek ways to feel more positive again (and when we remain negative, we start wondering what’s wrong with us). Negativity is perceived as something bad. But what if it was a good thing? In this insight we’ll explain how to use negativity to create more positivity.
How negativity typically traps us
When people are negative, it’s usually because they worry about the future. They foresee they’re going to hit a wall – and that it will hurt really badly. They’re convinced that whatever they try, things will never improve. Often there is the idea ‘I’ve tried EVERYTHING – and NOTHING works’. Slowly they start to feel lost. Most people however don’t like to feel lost.
As a result, they start to blame. Blame themselves or blame others. After all, blaming brings relief. It feels good to find a culprit. “It’s because I have this horrible boss that I have these problems”. Or “It’s because I’m not smart enough that I got in this situation”. “I’m stuck. I won’t find a way out. Others will have to help me”.
The blaming is often accompanied with anger. Anger that fuels action and reaction. Sometimes the actions lead to improvement. And that’s a good thing. But other times the actions don’t suffice. Resentment towards self and others grows day by day.
But it usually doesn’t finish there. At some point, the anger and resentment turn into ‘despair’. People lose all hope and conclude there’s nothing to expect anymore. They numb off all, and don’t take any action anymore. Anchoring them further and further in their undesired situation…
How to leverage negativity
Rather than see our negativity as something we need to stop as quickly as possible, an invitation to ‘fight or flight’ (as explained above), we could see it as a messenger telling us it’s time for something new.
Perhaps it’s an invitation to dare to hope and start acting positively again. Or perhaps it’s a message that circumstances have changed, and it’s time to change what we consider most important. It might be a sign that our ‘definition of success’ needs to be rewritten. Or that our recipe to be successful needs to change (even if that demands a lot of courage).
Here are a couple of steps to help you create more positivity (you might need some time to go through them)
Become aware of the negativity
(Stop yourself and say ‘hey – I’ve been too negative lately – it’s time to have some good conversations with myself’)
2. Find out why you are feeling this way
– What are the reasons of your negative mood?
– Has there been any other ‘unwelcome evolution or situation’ that bothers you?
– What do you miss from the past? (think broad – and be honest with yourself)
3. Reflect what has contributed to the situation
– What or who has contributed to the current situation?
– How have I contributed to the current situation?
– How are my ‘standards and priorities’ incompatible with the current situation?
4. Brainstorm on hidden opportunities
– What could be good about the current situation?
– How could I turn this situation into an opportunity?
– How could I leverage the situation to do something I’ve always wanted to do?
5. Define a first step forward
– What’s the first thing I could act upon?
– What’s the first step I could take?
– What would make this a good first step?
You can definitely use these 5 steps to deal with your own negativity and create more positivity. But don’t hesitate to apply them with others. One conversation might not suffice. But in our experience, consistently asking these questions leads to great insights for a positive future.