The Thing About Negativity

Ah, yes. Negativity. It erodes ourselves and our relationships. Many of us are so under it’s spell, we don’t even know that we spew it the world.

What’s really behind all this negativity? Let’s take a look at several vantage points on negativity:

Anger: When we’re unresolved in our anger, we tend to have negative thoughts and feelings, which leads us to usually verbal negativity. As long as we haven’t dealt with the anger inside our ourselves, we stay negative. Negativity is more of an intellectual construct; anger, on the other hand, is more of an emotion that we can transform, if we can get in touch with it.

Superiority: we we think we’re better than others, and posture ourselves in the world as more superior to them.

Criticism: Usually, we criticize others because we can’t get what we need from them directly, or we are posturing ourselves as superior over them. Being critical is often something learned when we were young; it might have been a way that a parent interacted with us. We internalized that at some point, channelled the criticism onto ourselves (the self-critic), and then out onto other people. It’s not really a direct way of dealing with others.

Victimization: is when we play the victim to our lives. Often times, this entails being negative about the world, and prevents us from taking full ownership of the problem ourselves. It’s much harder to own responsibility for our situation, than blame others, especially our family, work situations or partners, for our unhappiness.

Unhappiness: We may be generally unhappy, and might not be admitting it to ourselves. Sometimes, to stop and say to ourselves, “You know, I think I’m unhappy,” is the beginning of taking ownership for our situation. As long as we hinge our happiness onto other’s wagons, we also allow for them to disappoint us, too. We need others for happiness, but sometimes we take this too far.

Stress: When we’re stressed, negativity is sometimes a byproduct of our stress. We’re tired, irritable, or just plain can’t find anything positive or joyful to look at. Good stress management is critical to dealing with negativity. By learning to lower our stress, we take responsibility for ourselves, and make others happier in the meanwhile. Lower stress levels mean less negativity.

Negativity addiction: this is more engrained, but there are plenty of people who need to be negative, because their whole identity is invested in it. If they were to not be negative, who would they be? We identify ourselves as many things in life, and, unfortunately, some of those identifications are neurotic or not growth-promoting. Many people whose identities are negative in nature may, unconsciously, feel like they need those to be who they need to be. Usually, when we let go of the negativity, we have to be with ourselves and re-create ourselves. It’s a very difficult thing to do; negativity acts like a security blanket we just don’t give up.


About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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