Productive Negativity


I am one of the bizarre individuals who is not burdened by other people’s complaints or personal issues. Yes, I do have anxiety, and yes, I do take on a level of sympathy that causes me to experience similar levels of pain as the person describing them to me, but that doesn’t affect my well-being, mental health or attitudes in any negative way. So naturally, I found it incredibly bizarre when I realized that other people have a low threshold for negativity and melancholy. In fact it was baffling, in a world of perpetual disappointments, tragedies and errors, you’d think we’d have developed an efficient psychological coping mechanism for grief instead of outright avoiding it. When I come home from work, I talk about things that I’ve been thinking about or experiencing during the day both negative and positive. I talk about getting free ice cream, I rant about the weather, my good hair day, about my boss’s erratic behavior, how I left my umbrella on the train- but I’m not actually upset about any of the negatives. I’m simply stating the interesting things that happened to me that day that are neutral of positive of negative attributes. However, my boyfriend would then respond saying that I have too much negativity and that I should spin things in a positive light. I was baffled. What do you mean, ‘spin things in a positive light’? I’m not actually upset. I’m just talking.

That’s when I realized that some people may have low tolerances for negativity. I suppose that explains the bombardment of monotonous “positivity quotes” to help you block out all the negativity in your life, but you and I both know that a sentence of  mildly profound positivity is not going to help you get past those pressing issues in your life. But sure! It does make a nice wallpaper for your desktop or mobile phone! But what about those of us who are bit more pessimistic and grey? This constant positivity is NOT the way for us to productively cope. It is so exhausting to be constantly positive. It both forces us to be something we aren’t, and to shove our issues to the bottom of the barrel and plaster a fake smile on our face afterwards. This just does nothing to resolve the dark issues we face in the world and within ourselves. But there’s a way we can cope without pretending everything is happy dappy, and it is a special method made for us pessimists who see no problem with taking a healthy dose of the darker, realer sides of reality and who are looking for someway to build the strength to be positive.


Be Careful Who You Share Your Problems With

It’s healthy to release your negativity by talking to others, but be careful who you share them with. I learned that I need to talk to people with high negativity tolerances about my day to day issues, then save the more positive stuff for the rest. Not that I went around like a wet blanket reminding everyone that nothing in the universe matters, I just didn’t realize that I couldn’t share some of the negative things in my life without ‘bringing down the mood’. I really hate that people can’t just grow up and face reality, but it is what it is. Find a friend, family member who is like, like you, isn’t bothered by whatever negativity you bring to them.  You guys can remind each other of the darker realities of the world and comfort each other by offering some practical solutions instead of being told to ‘look on the bright side’.


Create Solutions

You cannot stop issues from arising, but you can make a note and prevent future issues. If you made a mistake at work, make a note so that mistake won’t happen again. Always look for ways to improve instead of to complain.


Surround Yourself with Realism

Instead of happy dappy quotes of fantasy, surround yourself with practical advice and philosophy. I have a Pinterest account where I keep lessons from Aristotle, Einstein, and Plato. I read articles everyday about how to tackle the realities of everyday life like the School of Life, Aeon, and You Are Not So Smart.


Keep a Journal

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It’s important to document the lessons you learn and the issues you face, for it will be nice to come back to them when you are facing something similar in the future. It also helps to release frustrations and negativity if you don’t have anyone in your life with a high negativity tolerance. It helps you to feel better about your circumstances and really frame it in a way that will help you to solve the issues.

3 thoughts on “Productive Negativity

  1. Nice post. Even though it’s nice to read all the “Happy dappy” quotes and posts, it is also nice to read some darker posts which show some of the realities of life. It’s best to try and have a nice middle ground. A mix of positivity and negativity brings balance to life, it will never be too dull, but it also won’t be a constant struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I try to encourage people to not focus on the negative as much, especially those negativities that are out of their control. They tend to get sucked into a specific negative thought and then it flushes any other good or neutral experience they have during the day… causing a perpetual bad attitude, and affecting everyone around them.


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