Do you see the glass half empty or do you see the glass half full?
My domestic helper was looking very upset and low on Saturday. She was concerned about not being able to speak to her family, who live in Indonesia, Java, in a village close to where the volcano has erupted.
Her concern was valid. She was not able to get through to her family on the phone for a whole day. I realized if she continues with the negative thoughts, it is not going to help her. So I started asking her what typically happens when these kind of volcanos erupt and what happened last time when something similar had happened. Immediately she said oh ma’am the electricity goes off. To which I said, are you trying them on a landline or mobile?
And suddenly she realized that may be they have had no electricity and the battery on the mobile may have run off and they may not have been able to charge. There was a bright spark of delight on her face when she responded, yes mobile and yes may be the battery has run off. She had a smile on her face with this new hope.
During one of the trainings I was delivering last week, whilst mentioning that think of the positives, one of the participants remarked, it is not good to be over optimistic and be blinded by our optimism. We need to be realistic. Some amount of negativity and stress is required to take us forward……., indeed there is always some amount of pain that some of our brains requires to push us forward and to achieve something. However, shrouding ourselves in negativity that disables us to see any other way and move us forward is not realistic.
Is it good to be over optimistic?
Is it reasonable to be negative?
I think the most important in any situation of life, is our attitude. Attitude determines the choice you make at the moment and the choice you make or not make will either lift you or bury you further.
It is easy to criticize, complain and condemn and continue life. And it is a matter of choice whether we go the usual route or take the path to look at things realistically and not let our emotions go out of control.
What can you do when you see yourself getting into a vicious negative cycle ?
1. Hit your reset button
Snap out of it by hitting your reset button. Our thoughts control our feelings and that affects our behavior, our words and action. Only way to get out of it is to press Ctrl+Alt+Del or hit the Force Quit button. I take myself out of a negative thought especially when I see it is leading me along an irrational path by imagining myself pressing the Force Quit button in my brain almost similar to the force quit button on MAC when a program is not responding. This can take the form of pressing a button or walking away and taking a break or drinking water or talking to a friend or whatever that helps you at that moment.
2. Choose your surroundings
You may say, I don’t always have control on my surroundings. Yes but you do have control on what you do with it. Do you fall prey to it or choose to keep away from negative people who put you down. Can you remind yourself to not fall victim to your Amygdala and hijack your motor skills of your PFC? What are those little reminders that will help you at that moment?
This does not mean put up with any offense or humiliation or character assassination that people may make on you. It means choose a path, an action that will enable you to keep yourself and your emotions safe.
3. Your Action
Of course there are times when you are in a meeting, in an elevator, in a supermarket, in a gym when you come across people whose actions indicate a lot of negativity. The mindset they adopt is not something that suits your mindset. Change cannot be forced but what you have control over is your mindset. This is one of my most challenging acts. I need to keep my head above water to make sure that people’s negative behavior which could be in the form of not being courteous, or being impolite or doing some injustice does not affect me. I have to remind myself to stay above the fray and not stoop down to their level. Over the years, I have gotten better at this, because I have realized that change in any of us has to come from within.
What I can do is to lead by example and inspire others by my action.
In conclusion, I would say majority of time think and be positive. Negativity breeds negativity and pulls you down with no benefit to you or others. Positivity does not mean being unrealistic and over optimistic. It is good to be realistic and yes when we are trying to improve skills, behavior or lose weight or stop a habit that is not helping us, thinking of the negative consequences helps us to move forward.
How do you get over negativity?
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