The Pull of Negativity
Do you ever have one of those days where life is cruising along on positive speed and then for some reason, you feel the pull of negativity and just like that, your day has gone from milestone to millstone?
I have a theory about that. Maybe you will agree or maybe you won’t, but my theory is that we are supposed to have days like that, at least until we learn to think differently.
The reason has to do with how we are wired as human beings. We have a hard time unconditionally accepting positive anything without some caveat being attached to it. For us to truly develop an understanding and appreciation of the joy that positivity can bring into our lives, our imperfect human selves need balance and as such we invite good ol’ negativity to the table time and time again.
In other words, we need some negative sprinkled into our positive lives in order to continue our positive journey forward.
That seems rather confusing I know and it’s taken me forever to figure it out, but here is an example that happened to me recently that illustrates what I mean.
A couple weeks ago, I had a very good day.
I sat down to write about 730am and continued for the next six hours pretty much non-stop. My hands were literally flying over the keyboard, the flow of the ideas in my head perfectly translating into the words I wanted on the page. For those of you who write, you know that sometimes the vision of what’s in our head isn’t exactly what translates to paper. So, when it happens, it is a very good day.
My back started to ache from being glued to my desk chair for so many hours and although I probably could have continued to write, my positive self knew it was time to get some exercise and keep the positive momentum going. My office window looks directly down onto our garden below and I spied a few weeds sprouting, a couple rouge snails encroaching on my newly planted veggies. A positive opportunity to check off a couple chores, while making my Fitbit happy. All good things.
Two hours and a chipped manicure later, I had won the battle of the weeds and snails and had added another three thousand steps to my Fitbit and decided to reward my positive achievements with a generous glass of wine (emphasis on the generous), a little dish of wasabi trail mix and some quality time with my book club read before my hubby came home from work.
Parking myself on the couch, I dived into Hemingway and the Spanish Civil War, mindlessly reaching for my wine glass and a few Wasabi nibbles every now and then.
Absently I looked up from my book.
It was only me and the cats in the house, but still, I distinctly heard what sounded like someone trying to get my attention.
I looked across the room at the sixty-inch box of doom and gloom affixed to the wall.
“Hey girl, heard you had a positive day. That’s good, really, really good, you’ve got your wine, your wasabi trail mix, your book, but it’s all so positive….”
Is my television set talking to me? Eyes wide, I grabbed my wine glass and took a big gulp.
“Girl, you worked hard all day. Productive. Positive all the way around. But deep down you are worried things have been just a little too positive today. Too smooth, no bumps in the road. That makes you uncomfortable, right?
“I’m not worried things have gone too positive today,” I say out loud to the television, “I AM NOT!”
Still my hand started to reach for the remote control, hovering.
“Turn me on. You know you want to! Aren’t you the least bit curious if the Hallmark channel will bring back “When Calls the Heart?” I mean who would have thought a goodie-goodie like Aunt Becky (aka Lori Loughlin from Full House days) would be capable of buying her daughers way into USC? C’mon, you know there are probably four or five channels green screened with Ex-Justice Department officials discussing all the days political dirt. Oooh, how about one of those home improvement channels where you can listen to people whine about not having an open floor plan? I think one of those commercials for the Humane Society is on…you know the ones that show abused pets as Sarah McLaughlin sings “Arms of the Angel?”
All that juicy negativity!
I took another huge gulp of wine and choked.
“Pick up the remote…pick up the remote…c’mon you know you want to!”
“I’m reading my book! I’ve got my wine and my wasabi nuts, why do I need to turn on the television set?”
I didn’t need to. I had a good day. A completely positive day! However, despite the positive vibes still reverberating through my body the pull of negativity was calling me and I pressed the remote button.
Like some mindless idiot, I began flipping, flipping, flipping, between multiple cable news channels looking for some nasty gossip of Aunt Becky and Hallmark; waded through five stations of unemployed justice department officials talking about how everyone hates everyone and was sobbing my eyes out watching a commercial featuring a dog with mange, eyes pleading at me to save it, when my husband walked in the front door.
Has this type of thing ever happened to you?
There you are, ready to immerse yourself in a little “me” time to celebrate the fact that you’ve had a perfectly good day. Maybe it’s not in your top ten of good days, but on the positivity scale, you have no complaints. You are all set to keep the positivity party going when for some reason you feel the pull to seek the dark side calling.
Sometimes it’s completely understandable. Your life is cruising along great and then like a trip wire, you get news you have cancer or heart disease, your favorite aunt is dying or your job is being eliminated and just like that, you find yourself stumbling and tumbling into negative territory.
We’ve all been there and if you haven’t, you might want to think about an Ancestry test to determine if you are a Vulcan, emotionless and related to Spock.
But fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on your viewpoint), most of us feel and that means we are vulnerable to the negative in these types of situations.
That being said, what about the times when there is no trip wire, no obvious stumbling block for you to overcome in your positive day? Just like the pretty great day I was having before my remote-control trigger finger went in search of everything Darth Vader!!!
Why do we constantly do this to our positive selves? Why did I do it to myself?
One possible reason is that our human selves seek out negativity in response to positivity as a result of guilt.
“Maybe I don’t deserve all of this positivity!”
I know in my own life, I can recall many times I have talked myself into thinking my positive experiences were not all that positive by intentionally picking them apart, looking for the loopholes.
I also know I’ve gone through phases where I thought that embracing my positive self would somehow makes me less relatable to my family and friends. That somehow, someway, if I gave all the power to positive thinking, positive behavior and positive living, I’d lose sight of the negative and become self-absorbed and unable to feel empathy towards those going through rough times.
“Oh, there SHE goes again, everything’s perfect in her world all the time!”
As an introvert, the idea of people thinking this about me literally tore me apart inside. Even though no one has ever said this to me or implied it of me.
What I’ve basically done is unconsciously instituted a sort of cover for both of these issues by reinforcing my daily positives with negative reinforcements. In other words, I go searching for something negative to remind me how truly blessed I really am. That’s why I picked up the remote the other day to seek out something negative.
A negative capstone to my day.
How messed up is that? It’s pretty messed up. BUT I guess it just proves I’m human and not Vulcan.
But you know something, the more I delve into this positivity thing, the more I feel like maybe it’s o.k. if the teeter totter of life isn’t quite balanced. Maybe I don’t have to go in search of something negative to balance out the good. Maybe life can just be good, period!
Why do Positivity and Negativity have to share the ride? Up and Down they go. Up and Down. Up and Down.
Sometimes I’d like to just go up, up, up and stay there. How about you?
It’s something I’m planning on really working on this summer by developing my level of trust and acceptance that if life is going great, then it’s o.k. to be positive and leave it at that. Total acceptance of the positive. Well at least half acceptance of the positive is a good start. I’ll try!
But until that time, I’ll placate my negative side with a few moments of cable nastiness about Aunt Becky and her demise and then I’ll get back to appreciating my very positive life by drinking my wine, reading my book and …
Oh crap, I think the cat just hacked up a wasabi nut on my carpet. UGGGH!!!!
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