I made a conscious decision when I was about 17 years old, to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Of course I am human and have lapses from time to time – however, it was life changing for me. Real or perceived, I have found that “things have a way of working out” has been good motivation for me to live by.
“You are a beautiful woman. You are kind, thoughtful and caring. I don’t know anyone that is more loved and appreciated than you. Have you had that freckle on your nose all your life?”
Which part of this would you store in your brain? Would you focus on the positive or the negative connotation?
As human beings we tend to focus on the negative. Why is that?
I used to say to my mother, “Mom, I could say 100 nice things about you, but if I said one thing that you perceived as negative, it would be all you would focus on”.
Isn’t that true with all of us?
We are prisoners to our own perceptions and misgivings specific to how others see us. Why does it matter? Why do we focus on the negative?
Goodness knows, our news is primarily negative. How many uplifting stories are shared among all the bad news?
In researching this phenomena, I discovered the following article by Mosab Alkhteb that helps to explain why we are so prone to negativity. Some excerpts:
Focusing on Negative Things is a Curse.
It makes you fixated on not only negative things but also wastes a lot of energy. That makes it harder to focus on what really matters, creating more negativity in your life for you to focus on!
Not to mention that it sometimes makes you focus on trivial things.
But does that mean you should “think positively”?
Positive thinking is a way of life for some people. You cannot deny the fact that life isn’t that positive. Shit happens.
Negativity is a part of life, like it or hate it. And it’s not a trivial part, either. And acknowledging negativity can be a very wise thing to do sometimes. We can’t be naive in ignoring it.
But being too negative is harmful. And being negative for the wrong reasons is as bad as being too negative. So, we don’t want that.
We first want to know if you are being too negative.
What are the signs? How is your life going to get affected? Then, we want to figure out why in the world are you acting like that in the first place? It’s not random. And understanding the reasons behind that way of thinking (or being) will help us develop a strategic plan to make our lives better. And that’s the point.
Completely eliminating negativity from your life is impossible. Even more, I certainly believe that we can’t eliminate a certain type of negativity from our lives. Suffering and bad circumstances are as real as the pain associated with them.
That said, you still don’t want negativity to rule your life. And you certainly don’t want to surrender and let negativity guide you. There’s still hope out there.
Let’s first see how a ‘negativity-ridden’ life looks like, or:
7 Signs you are focusing too much on the negative things
Well, reading this article is probably a good sign.
Some of you might even be sure they are focusing too much on negativity and just want solutions.
But do consider that, by reading these signs, you might get an insight about how deep you are in this shit. You are likely to bring to awareness how, exactly and precisely, focusing on negativity is screwing up your life.
Focusing on the negative things can bring about results similar to the results you get when you self-sabotage.
Simply put, you sabotage your own efforts by having a poor attitude.
You focus on what’s bad. You don’t try new things, and you believe you’re just stuck. To make it even worse, you don’t try hard or try enough. Let’s face it, why would you when you believe it won’t work?
So, focusing on negative things is going to hold you back. It’s going to affect the quality of the results you get in your life.
If the results you’re getting are worse than you desire, and you know you could do better, then pay attention. There’s a good chance you’re holding on to the negative in a demoralizing way. And it’s manifesting itself as self-destructive behaviors and attitudes that lead to undesired results. This is probably the most straightforward sign.
2. Wasted energy
You can tell when you’re wasting energy. It doesn’t feel good and it makes you feel weak and drained.
When you are focusing on negative things, you waste your energy in many ways and forms. Generally, you waste it by focusing on what is not useful for you. But the very act of negativity, in and of itself, is draining.
Your brain considers threat when it thinks about negativity. When you’re being negative, you’re basically viewing the world in terms of what is wrong. And what is wrong is threatening. Even if you feel apathetic to it, you deep down know that it can hurt you.
When everything around you is negative, or if you view it as negative, the chances of getting hurt are high. You’re in a chaotic environment with little to no power. At least that’s how you perceive it.
So, you’re going to be in a state of being alerted and threatened. And that’s a demanding state to be in. It requires a lot of energy.
That’s where focusing on negative things is energy waste. It consumes your energy by reacting to threats by making you prepared and alerted.
When all hell is breaking loose around you, anything can happen. And you should be prepared to, well, anything! And that’s insanely demanding.
3. Focusing on trivial stuff and meaningless battles
This one looks similar to the previous point about energy, but it’s not; the reasons behind it are different.
Focusing on trivial things and fighting meaningless battles is indeed a waste of energy. But it’s only a symptom of a deeper issue.
It’s a sign your life is in shambles. It’s a sign your values aren’t in a good shape. And it’s a sign you’re harboring resentment and are angry. If you have nothing better to do, or if what’s better is difficult to do, then why not consume your energy in such battles and trivial things?
After all, the payoff is immediate. And it reinforces the belief that the world is against you. It’s an easy out to feel good about yourself and to express resentment and anger instead of being eaten up by them. It’s attractive but dysfunctional.
As I said, it’s a sign. A bad one! It means your inner compass isn’t functional. And what guides you is resentment and anger. Guided by them, you’re focusing on negativity, acting it out, and making your life worse. And by making your life worse, you are adding more negativity for you to focus on; more resentment and anger to harbor.
Resentment and anger aren’t things you can tolerate for too long. It takes moral courage to not act based on them. The easiest option is to get rid of what’s painful right away. You will act them out as soon as they become too much for you to bear. And one of the ways you act them out is by fighting meaningless battles and pursuing trivial things.
4. You’re easily hurt and are less resilient
This goes with the previous point as well. But let’s add one more idea:
When you’re stressed out by too much negativity and chaos in your life, it’s not easy to control the repressed demons inside of you. You don’t have enough energy to do that.
That means you are going to struggle with bad feelings you have been able to repress when things were going smoothly. Why? Simply because you now have no energy to repress them.
And those bad feelings suck. They make you more irritated, more impulsive, and maybe even more sensitive.
It’s like, you already have enough on your plate! You are already in enough pain. Any extra pain, or perceived hurt, is going to be almost catastrophic.
That’s one reason why you can be more easily hurt by things that wouldn’t normally hurt you. And it’s one of the reasons your emotional resilience has taken a hit. You are consumed by too much negativity and chaos that what is slightly upsetting is now a big deal! Such a strong sign!
5. Being stuck on a specific negative or painful past event
This one is complicated, yet very straightforward!
There’s one specific negative event that you are focusing on. And, to some extent, you’re aware of it. This event is probably too painful and traumatic.
And that’s not all. It has altered the way you see the world, the way you see other people, or the way you see yourself. Or all of that!
But generally speaking, if you are reminiscing and ruminating about that event, you haven’t recovered from it yet.
It makes all the difference in the world whether that wound is an old one that’s still bleeding or if it’s a fresh one. But we’re not going to discuss that because the point I want to make is much simpler.
(Pro tip: anything older than 18 months is considered an old wound if it still brings you agony when recalling it.)
Here’s what you should consider: if there’s a specific past event that’s making your life hell, there’s a great chance this negativity will spill to consume other areas of your life.
So, if you’re focusing too much on negative things in life, check to see if there’s one negative past event that you are still struggling with. It will affect your whole outlook. And remember, it will generally make you in a state of anticipating threat and being alerted. That will, in turn, make you more prone to focusing on negative things in your life generally.
We will cover this point in detail at the end of this article.
6. Being too nostalgic
If you think that you were, at some point in your life, in a better place and you obsessively miss the old days, it might mean you have failed to establish a new identity where you are right now.
Being nostalgic doesn’t mean your past was amazing. You can’t trust your memory in this case.
Here’s what I believe. Maybe your reality is too tough to handle, too negative, that you prefer to create a positive version of the past and long for it. You exaggerate the good things and minimize the bad things. You have to remember that your memory isn’t as reliable as you think it is; it’s biased!
So, being too nostalgic could mean that your present is too intolerable. And one of the things that make your present intolerable is focusing too much on the negative things. It makes you think that now sucks. It, more dangerously, makes you think that tomorrow isn’t going to be promising, either! So, to hell with it. And one way to cope with this is to create a fantasy past where everything was perfect.
This is also a sign that doesn’t apply to every case. Not every person who is being nostalgic is following this scenario. But do consider it. Plus, too much longing for the past is almost always a bad sign. You need to let go of it and create a better future where you are satisfied with who you are instead of dwelling on what was. You might be even missing pathological and evil parts about yourself that you should let go of and outgrow.
Be careful what you are nostalgic about. And be careful as it might mean your present just sucks!
7. Being stuck and passive
Too much negativity is paralyzing.
It simply makes us too overwhelmed to do anything. So, being too passive and feeling stuck can be a sign you are focusing on too many negative things. Or just that there’s too much negativity and chaos in your life.
If you overthink and can’t take even a small step and you don’t take initiative, be careful. Negativity has taken over your life.
We are all human. We are travelling our our individual journey. Our worldview is shaped by our day to day experiences. Find a positive to propel your day.
Don’t worry. Be Happy!