Lessons from Negativity

Who hasn’t been in an environment before, where he or she was surrounded by negative talk. In our society this seems to be something that is quite common in all areas of our lives.

For example we are often surrounded by co-workers, supervisors, and bosses who have something bad to say or criticize themselves, each other, their customers or their stakeholders. Sometimes groups and even friendships form around the identification of a “common enemy”.

I would lie if I say that I have never found myself in the spiral of getting caught up in finding fault in the actions, demeanors, choices, and looks of others.

What is it that makes us choose a certain person to conspire against and is it really about this particular person? What can we learn from our communications and feelings around the person we choose to “trash talk” about? And what kind of bond are we forming with the group of people, who share the same misgivings as we do?

I firmly believe that if we are able to get over using negativity as a shield, we will soon realize that our negativity is actually the best indicator of our values and aspirations. When I am brave enough to question my actions around being caught up in talking bad about someone else, wanting to “fit in” is often a major driving force for me personally. Being of the introverted nature, coming up with small talk can be very challenging. But once you are part of a group that has identified a person or thing to “bitch about” it is much easier to find topics of conversation. Whenever a conversation halts, you just default back to making yourself feel better by putting someone else down.

And that is really often the culprit for negative talk in the first place. As humans we have this innate drive to wanting to feel good about ourselves. But so often we question our abilities and fear the things that could get us closer to the things we dream of having. The easiest quick fix to getting out of the spiral of self-doubt, is to look around us and identify someone, who we deem “less perfect” than ourselves. As bad as we might feel about ourselves, at least we are not as bad as that person! Or so we think.

I urge you to look closer and write down the things you find the most fault with in others. What are they doing or not doing that drives you up a wall? Then turn it around and see what these traits that you identified have to tell you about yourself.

I used to find myself judge ultrarunners. I would find myself criticizing their choices to put their body through so much strain and to sacrifice all their time just to cross an arbitrary finish line after miles and miles of hardship. I would find others, who agreed with me on this notion and we would shake our heads in unison and point our fingers disapprovingly. But when I finally allowed myself to put down the shield and look behind my misgivings, I started to realize that my judgment was not about the people I chose to shun at all. I realized all of them actually held qualities that I aspired to and was not able to manifest within myself. I actually didn’t believe that I had it in myself to be this physically active. I didn’t trust my body enough to believe that it would be there for me. I didn’t think I was allowed to take time away from my family and friends to pursue something that I was passionate about. There was a feeling of obligation to not be selfish by taking time for myself. And when I further questioned those believes, I found that I was actually afraid to commit to something for fear that I might fail.

Being brave enough to look behind the wall of negativity can be a scary thing. It is so much easier to judge than it is to face off with the areas of our lives, in which we don’t live up to our own highest values and potential. Looking behind my view on ultrarunners, actually caused me to having to face off with my own body issues, my fear of self-fulfillment and failure. My response to this was the only way I could think of facing off with my judgments. I started running and eventually completed a marathon. While I didn’t stick with running long-term, it did allow me to gain a new perspective of myself and has made me look more closely at the areas I find myself condemning.

When wanting to identify what is holding us back from living the life we want, looking at our patterns of negativity can often be the best indicator to point us to the things we value, the work we still have to do on ourselves, and the fears that are holding us back.

So next time you find yourself in the middle of an extended bitch session, take it as an opportunity for learning and growth.

2 thoughts on “Lessons from Negativity

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  1. I understand and agree with your thoughts here. Trying to be around positive people all my life has taught me that we may be like chameleons. We emulate those we want to impress or aspire to be like. It may be that being mostly negative is part of the human condition for some. I think it is rare for people to recognize fault in themselves even though they are quick to see it in others. Blaming others for your own shortcomings is the easiest fix and requires so little.


    1. It is true. Blaming others for shortcomings is the quicker, simpler fix to make us momentarily feel better about our current place in our own lives. Requiring others to change comes easier than getting out of our own comfort zone to change ourselves.


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