by Guest Blogger Clara K. Showalter
There’s a lot of talk about how negative the world is. We are bombarded by negative images in the media, ads telling us how to look, what to drink, and how to eat flood our televisions. Any story that offers data someone doesn’t approve of is considered negative, and as such is viewed as not important. I hear people talking about the need to remove negative images from daily life.
Yet doing that doesn’t solve the real issues. Say we stop television broadcast of the video coming out of Egypt. There are many who view those images as negative and violent. Yet I’d be hard pressed to find someone who can persuade me that the information coming from those images isn’t important. Now is it possible to be flooded by those images? Absolutely. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself and understand where that information is coming from and why it’s important.
Information isn’t positive or negative. That bias is applied by individuals. Understanding why that bias is applied is a step in the process of educating yourself and forming a solid opinion. Negative or positive, it’s just opposite views on pieces of data. When you see a piece of information which challenges your world view, ask why? Then start looking at the data and dig deeper. There’s something in the situation which makes people feel so passionate about the event, they feel the need to speak up. That tells you something.
Before you jump up and down accusing someone of negative thinking, take the time to look at what’s being said. Ask yourself questions. Is this information that I may need to know? Can information in this discussion change my outlook on a situation? What makes this person feel so passionately about this subject?
Collect data, review the data, THEN make an informed decision. Don’t jump to conclusions just because the information provided doesn’t match your world view.
This is one of the ways you grow past your own boundaries and limits and move forward.
Great explanation, Clara! Using the “positive mindset” is also how a lot of cults retain membership by creating an Us vs. Them boundary. Calling someone a “negative person” is usually a psychological ploy that assures the one calling someone that they they are right, while the “negative” person is wrong and thus, should be pitied for not being as privileged and gifted in knowledge as they think they are. It also creates doubt in the mind of the “negative” person for their opinions. They are taught that everything wrong in their life is because they have those opinions, which is not true. I’ve seen too many people use this as a psychological weapon against others now. There is always this warning to stay away from “negative” people…(aka. Anyone who does not agree with you or who does not hold the same perspective on life that you do).
I’ve nearly gotten sucked in to several self-help cults (including those who follow The Secret) and noticed all of them use this tactic to separate people from reality. Whenever I hear the words “negative person”, I run now. There are big differences from so-called negative people and abusive people. Reality is not so black and white.
Calling someone a negative person isn’t a sign you are in a cult. 😉 Remember, negative is a word. That’s all. The power it gains is power we give it.
My general rule of thumb is this. If I’m being accused of being negative, I’ll ask myself a couple of questions.
1) Is the person right? Am I expressing a negative view. Example- when asked how I feel about Barry Bonds the former baseball player, I’ll usually say I hate him. Is that a negative view? Yes it is. It’s generally not positive to say you hate someone. 😉
2) Do I have valid and logical reasons for this negative view? Is it logical to say negative things about an employer who disciplined me for a clear breech of company rules? No. I may feel it’s valid, but it doesn’t hit the valid and logical test. Barry Bonds on the other hand, totally different thing. 😉
3) Is this perspective moving me forward or keeping me where I am now. Negative energy can be used to move you forward. Anger is a powerful motivator. A short burst of negative energy can provide fuel to push you forward. Like anything, negative energy is a tool.
4) Are you hearing this from multiple independent sources? Everyone you know from a website is still only a single source. Now if friends online, and your family, and local friends who all have different interests are calling you a negative person…well then you may want to look at what’s going on.
I’ve been called a negative person. Usually I run through my questions and shake it off. On occasion I’ve discovered that yes, I am indeed being overly negative. That’s a sign I need to dig deeper and see what’s going on.
End of day, I just consider it another piece of information. I look at it, chop it up into tiny pieces, and if it fits, I use it. If not, out it goes. 🙂