Why Do We Engage in Negativity?

negativity

I recently returned to social media by opening a Twitter account and was immediately assaulted with negativity. I wondered, "Why do we engage in negativity?"

What I found out was actually no surprise. 

Humans have a negativity bias. We notice and remember things we don't like or that hurt more than ones that are pleasing because it helps us to survive. Those who react more quickly and assertively to perceived danger are more likely to survive. 

So, it's normal. It's natural. We're hard wired to do it. 

And it makes us really unpleasant company and more unhappy. So, what do we do about it?

I'm Surrounded by Negativity. What Can I Do About it?

We can't control what other people do and say, but we do have a choice in how we want to present ourselves. Here are some tips for navigating in negative spaces and how to deal with it when it's coming from you!

Don't take things personally. People (including you) get angry. They complain. They can disagree with you. Don't take it personally. It has nothing to do with you - even if it's directed at you.  
Limit your exposure. It's okay for you or others to be upset - for a while. If it goes on too long, it's not venting nor is it useful. Know when to cut it off. This includes the news and social media, which are hot spots of negativity.
Learn to laugh at life's difficulties. Humor relieves a lot of pressure. It costs nothing, and it's contagious. If you can find something absurd about the situation, laugh at it.
Change the subject. I once worked with a woman who came from a very negative family and saw the downside of everything herself. I gave her the homework of changing the subject whenever someone in her family started going down a negative track. This made her realize how little they had to talk about if they weren't complaining! This realization helped her tremendously to become more self-aware and change the way she was thinking.
If you are being negative, think about what you really want. Get it in a healthier way. For example, most of us complain because we want to feel validated. If that's the case, just ask for feedback or for someone to listen. 
negativity

Unhappiness and undesirable things happen. It's a fact of life. Sometimes we have to deal with things that we don't like. So, there are times when we are going to grump and complain. It's okay. Just know what balance and resilience are indicators of healthy frustration. 

If negativity is a habit, it may be an indication of something more serious. Maybe you have depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or even post traumatic stress disorder. These things can make put you on high alert for danger so that it's all you see.


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