In a post two days ago, I mentioned the idea of a Negativity Fast, something I have personally used to lessen negativity’s hold on me.
The News Media
If you want to feel a whole lot better, the first thing you might eliminate is the news media. At one time, the newspapers and the nightly news would have reported the facts without sensationalizing every story, and with far less of the partisan bias. Now, the news media has been reduced to content delivery for one of two political tribes.
The business model for newspapers, television, and websites is to attract your attention by baiting you with something sensational or controversial, all aimed at attracting you—and keeping you tuned in. The media no longer reports the facts and allows you to decide what they mean. Instead, they decide what things mean and report to you a particular point of view, counting on confirmation bias to generate the opinions that generate their revenue.
Avoiding over-sensationalized and politicized content designed to make you feel a sense of fear or outrage will help you feel better. It will allow you to have a more empowered mindset.
While I love Stephen King and Clive Barker, both having contributed to my love of reading, especially when I was young, that content isn’t designed to frighten you in the same way as the news. You should treat the news as if the person producing the story is a want-to-be horror novelist and discount their work accordingly.
The Social Sites
You don’t have to look any further than Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and to find pits of virtue signaling, anger, poor thinking, political ideology, unnecessary provocations, hostility, divisiveness, conspiracy theories, and opinions that confirm biases with a demonstrated unwillingness to consider other perspectives.
You might start by unfollowing people who are angry and who post only things that are negative, be it their opinions, the opinions of others, or memes that share a point of view designed to be divisive. The decision to remove content that is negative means giving up spending time looking at content that confirms your biases, making it more difficult for you to argue with others about things over which you have no control, as well as eliminating a major source of negativity.
Were you to spend time on social sites, choose to consume content from people who are positive, optimistic, successful, and unwilling to share negative content. There are plenty of people who produce content designed to make you better and who refuse to speak the worst in us.
Your Negative Co-Workers
While eliminating specific sources of media is relatively easy to accomplish, requiring only that you stop yourself from doing something, what’s more difficult is avoiding the negative co-workers you find at work. There always have been, and there always will be, those certain few people who are unhappy about their work, their world, and the way things are.
Some of the most cynical people you find at work are subject matters on everything. They know what to do about a crisis, even if it is something they’ve never experienced before. More still, they know better than their managers and leaders how they should run their business, complaining about every decision, and trying to win people over to their beliefs.
You may find it difficult to avoid negative people at work, but if it is a source of disempowering thoughts and ideas, you will do well to eliminate the source. Because you are positive, you can say, “I am not interested in that subject,” or “I am too busy to listen to any complaints right now,” ending the conversation before it begins and removing the source.
Your Negative Friends and Family
It can be much more difficult to remove the sources when they are your friends and family. You can’t get rid of your family, but you can make some ground rules.
The first ground rule you might agree upon is that you are each allowed to have your own beliefs and values, accepting the other’s right to choose for themselves, even if it isn’t what you might wish for them. The second ground rule might be to eliminate politics and any other conversations that cause you to disagree and argue with each other. (No one wants to hear your Uncle Jimmy’s diatribe against whatever has him angry during little Becky’s eighth birthday party.)
The same is true of your friends. The more negative they are, the more you need to either avoid them or work on making them more positive. One of you is going to influence the other. It is an extremely difficult feat to help someone give up their negativity (something I am trying to do here) and much easier to bring people over to the dark side, where life is out of their control, where events conspire against them, and everything is someone else’s fault.
Perhaps the greatest source of negativity is the little voice in your head, the one that never stops chirping away in the background. It is an enormous job to learn to control that voice. Still, it starts with the ability to observe that voice as an objective outsider, something enabled by certain types of mediation or contemplative prayer or journaling your thoughts, none of which are yours.
Fear is an idea that precedes you and me. So is the feeling of being inadequate and comparing yourself to others. Any negative thought you have had has been around through all of human history. You do not have these thoughts; they have you. How could what you say to yourself be original to you if everyone on Earth has shared that same thought (I promise you are special, just not “that” special)?
What you allow your voice to say can be positive as quickly as it can be negative. Since you already have an inner critic, maybe add an inner coach, one who will coach your inner critic on their negative chatter, turning down that voice and turning up your new one. There may not be a better way to do this than to consume what is positive, optimistic, and empowering while eliminating the negative.
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Filed under: Mindset