When negativity knocks at your door, do you recognize it and send it away? Or do you invite it in for dinner, or worse, to stay with you as long as it likes—possibly for your lifetime?
First, be clear that being the manager of negativity in your life isn’t about the fact you have negative thoughts or feelings—you will. It isn’t about eliminating negative thoughts and feelings so you never experience them again—that’s not realistic. It is about training your conscious mind to notice such thoughts and feelings when they appear, and to recognize the different “costumes” negativity wears. You can’t manage negativity until you recognize and own how you engage it.
Whatever costume negativity puts on, what’s really embodied is fear. You might call it anger or another emotion, but underlying any negative emotion is fear—the fear you’ll lose something. This has everything to do with living in your personal power.
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross said, “Natural anger lasts for only about seventeen seconds.” This means the actual emotion you feel (any negative emotion) has its full-charge expression for that period of time. Past that, your conscious (and subconscious) mind takes over, usually engaging in reactions related to whatever fear was triggered.
When fear is triggered, you may project a negative future vision. You may pull up old memories to support why you feel the way you do. You’d call this justification for the reaction. What it really is, is feeding negativity—because you aren’t focused on what you can do that’s productive; you’re focused on self-preservation at any cost. Depending on your habitual reaction mode, you may close up like a telescope or let your sharp claws and teeth out.
Here are several common forms of negativity you may feed (or feed on)—
*Prejudice of ANY kind (race, religion, financial status, etc.)
*Demonstrating lack of self-respect or respect for others (if you do one, you do the other)
*Unproductive criticism (everyone needs to vent; but there’s a productive way to do this)
Replaying past events as though they’re still happening (which only triggers more negative emotions in the present)
*Allowing more “news” into your life than you really need to know (this includes any form of “entertainment” or “information” that creates extraneous negative feelings for you about anything that doesn’t have a direct impact on your life or how you choose to engage it)
*Intentionally negative “humor” or comments (sadly, the ability to slam someone with hurtful words, directly or indirectly, is considered a prized trait)
*Paying more attention to what others are doing than what you’re doing
*Telling jokes or using comments to bash others (gender-bashing is top of this list)
*Stating speculations then acting as though they’re facts (ignoring that maybe you don’t have enough information)
*Using the words “always” and “never” (or labels), especially when you assign them to others’ behaviors (which closes your mind to allowing they “could” one day be different)
You can add more to this list as they occur to you. A good question to ask yourself whenever you do one of these is, “What fear is underneath this for me, and how can I address it appropriately?”
Feeding negativity is a learned habit. You can
1. Acknowledge you engage in it.
2. Remind yourself to get your own attention about this. Author Guy Finley said, “No intention can be any stronger than our ability to remember it in the moment that it is needed.”
3. Start now to begin to do things differently. Choose to ask if your attitude, words, and actions are aligned with opening the path for a desired productive experience and outcome. There’s a difference in telling someone you feel angry and why and asking them to participate in a mutually beneficial resolution, and verbally attacking them. There’s a difference in telling yourself what you feel, why you feel it, and considering what you can do rather than entering the negative vortex.
4. Consider how you really see your authentic self. It isn’t that you have to suppress your personality or nature. It isn’t that you have to deny and keep quiet about what you really feel. It’s about what you do from there and how you do it. What do you really want to feed—as your experience and what you believe about yourself? If you don’t believe in your personal power, and right to live from it, how can you expect to act from there?
Train yourself to respond more often than you react; and acknowledge that will take conscious energy management. Reactions happen when you feel events or others have more power than you do. They don’t; that’s an illusion. They can only have as much power over you as you give them.
Any person or event that tests your personal power is an opportunity for you to pause and consider how you really see yourself: are you a volunteer victim or someone who looks out for your best interests—with integrity? If you feed (or feed on) negativity on a consistent basis, it can seem nearly impossible to feel you embody personal power.
Personal power is not a way of acting—it’s a way of BEing, even if you have to BEcome it one more-consciously-aware moment at a time.
Compare how much time you give to negative thoughts, feelings, words, and actions to the time you apply these to what makes you feel authentic, joyful, intentional, fulfilled—living on purpose.
No matter what’s going on around you, you always choose how to experience and process it. When you embrace this as a fact, you stand in your personal power. The more you do this, the more your innate power expands.
Feed negativity or feed intentional living. The choice is yours.