Are you one of those people that finds the negative in everything, even something positive like a job promotion? Or I bet you at least know someone like that. I think that the reason these people are negative is because they are paralyzed by fear.
I know a few people for whom everything has to be a problem. If they get a promotion, they’re worried about whether they can do the work. They’ll probably end up getting fired, they say. They shouldn’t have taken the promotion.
Nothing is good for these people. They have to look at the negative in every situation. I’m convinced that they don’t just do this. They have to do it, because they are incapable of having a positive outlook.
I’m also convinced that the reason they must be negative is that they’re paralyzed by fear. If they take a positive outlook, and things don’t happen the way they want, that would be a Bad Thing. They’re terrified of being surprised by something bad, so they expect bad things and – surprise – they’re never surprised.
I think this is a terribly sad way to live, but I see it all around me. I quite often find, when I start working with a new client, that they’re completely unable to let go of their negative outlook.
The problem is that the negative outlook is caused by fear, and fear prevents us from letting go of the negativity.
My thinking is that if fear is the underlying problem, we need to directly address the fear, and then we can change the negative thinking. But no amount of “trying to think positive” is going to help us if we’re so stuck in a morass of fear that we can’t move.
I think there are basically three fears that keep us in negative thinking.
First, there’s quite simply the fear of being disappointed. I think we develop this fear when we’ve suffered a lot of disappointment and never learned to deal with it. So the obvious solution here is to spend time actually confronting our disappointment, grieving it, and working through it. When we face disappointment, we begin, gradually, to see that it’s really nothing to be afraid of. We can live through disappointment.
Second, there’s the fear of being wrong. I think the main thing about being wrong is that we a) will be disappointed, and b) be embarrassed. Let’s say I feel very positive about my chances of being accepted into a major juried art competition. I may not tell anyone I’ve even entered, because I’ll fee humiliated if I entered and did not get in.
Third, I think there’s a fear that if we adopt a positive attitude, we might literally be bombarded with disappointment and embarrassment. In other words, we are afraid that being optimistic might set us up for being wrong much of the time.
The only way to address these fears is to acknowledge them and then just go forward. Let your fears have their say, and then tell yourself, “but now we’re going to try something a little different.” And try looking at things with a more positive outlook.
Thanks to Widow’s Quest for including this post in the Carnival of Positive Thinking, to The Next 45 Years for featuring this post in the Personal Development Carnival, to Credit Card Lowdown for inclusion in the Carnival of Money, Growth, and Happiness, to Think Happy Thoughts for including this post in the Happiness Carnival, to Tip Diva featuring this post in the Carnival of Tips, and to Pink Blocks for inclusion in the Blog Carnival of Personal Power.