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We hear a lot about how much good attitudes help. In general I agree, but today, when I read a post by Dr. Perry on the subject of positivity and negativity I felt inspired to write about the subject.
When negative is bad
Negativity can really ruin peoples’ previously happy day. People can be going along and decide to be sociable only to run into someone who seems to just drain their energy.
Complaining, blaming others for events that are really one’s own fault and negative attitudes can really negatively impact other peoples’ moods.
People can develop negatives attitudes and behaviors both accidentally and on purpose. It can come from lots of disappointment or from buying into ideas picked up in the media.
People can desperately need to break free of negative people in their lives and/or bad circumstances or attitudes.
When negative is good
There are times when negative is good, rather than bad. The first examples I always think of are when: the results of the medical tests are negative – you or I or you plural don’t have a disease. The other case that I think of most strongly, right off the top of my head is what a relief and a joy it is whenever a woman or a man finds out that the partner is really not having an extramarital affair.
Negativity is also good when it means that a person is able to be honest, at least with the self, about emotions and circumstances. This can include being truthful about negative emotions or feeling badly about a particular set of circumstances.
Being negative can help motivate people to make needed changes in their lives.
Criticism is a well known form of negativity. It can also be good or bad. Constructive criticism is one of the most helpful non-things that a person can ever receive from a more experienced person who knows what he or she is really dealing with.
Correction is really a great gift to the recipient. Most of experience this from loving parents, from school teachers and from religious leaders. Once adult, most of us also experience correction and constructive criticism from colleagues and bosses at work.
When on the wrong side of this, destructive criticism is actually devastating. It can make people insecure; bullying can destroy people. Criticism can make people hopeless and incredibly depressed without any self-esteem left at the end.
One common example of this is when a person is so ridiculed for something that he or she no longer tries. In my own life, I relate this most easily to living in a foreign language atmosphere. The amount of error one must endure to even attempt to use the local language is sort of horrible. Destructive criticism can make a bad situation worse, because it becomes much harder to learn if one doesn’t dare to even try.
Due to all of that, I personally don’t believe that negativity is particularly bad or good but that like so much in life, if the balance is wrong it makes matters worse but when right, it is healthy and helpful.