Disclaimer: the following information was deduced from my own self-exploration, and while I aim to be honest, there are things I just do not know, or have trouble expressing. This information is here to help you solve your internal difficulties, and if it does not help, please seek help elsewhere, or within yourself. It is my experience that it is in your own difficulties that you can gain the knowledge of how to overcome that difficulty. In the end, stay true to yourself. This is only my perspective.

Definition of Negativity

The state of being that can result when one gives up on the process of working through something, or feels discouraged about their move forward. Involves feelings of defeat, feeling lost, and bitterness. Often manifests itself as little negative thoughts that can come up at any time and might be directed at things unrelated to the root problem that one is negative about.

Probable Symptoms of Negativity

  • Feeling defeated, lost, or stuck in a rut
  • A feeling of enduring certain realities in life, or willfully suffering through them (martyrdom)
  • Trying to feel positive, yet constantly dogged by negative feelings trying to “drag you down”
  • A longing for certain things in life but feeling a great distance from them
  • Regret
  • A pattern of quitting things for various reasons such as getting impatient or frustrated
  • Lack of enthusiasm for life
  • Blaming others for both positives and negatives in life (ex: saying someone or something else “makes you happy” is still indicative of blame)
  • Bitterness
  • Hatred towards others, situations, emotions, or self
  • Feeling drained or depressed
  • The presence of violent impulses towards other people
  • Lashing out at others
  • Trying to control things, or other people telling you that you are being overly controlling (you might not be aware of it yourself) – this one can be caused because a person who feels negative about things might try to control situations in his or her life so that he or she can avoid those negative things.
  • Trying to eliminate or wipe out certain things from life, such as one’s own perceived faults, certain feelings, or emotions
  • The feeling of trying to push past one’s own feelings, perhaps with an intense or angry determination, when taking action

What seems to cause Negativity

When we talk about negativity, mostly, we’re talking about feeling bad, or stuck in a rut of feeling bad. It’s a state, but one we don’t necessarily like or enjoy. We can lie to ourselves, saying we like it, but the pressure of the negative emotion and feeling can get to us nevertheless, when we relax our barriers to that emotion.

Why does it happen?

For one, there’s the part that is beyond our individual control, such as a change in our emotional state – feeling bad, negative, sad, etc. This can just happen – various things may cause it, but this initial thing can happen – perhaps as the result of a way you’re seeing a situation, or maybe because you just don’t understand the situation that you’ve now found yourself in, and you’re not sure what you want to do, or what part of it you want to look into.

When we find ourselves in these sorts of situations, one way to handle these states is to work through it, that is, to go through the process by which we come upon ways of understanding and action that make sense to us, that work for the situation in front of us, that ring true for us, etc – things that we really feel pave a way forward. This can take time, however, and really, it can be an indeterminate amount of time. The length of the process is what it is – you don’t know when you’ll come upon the answers that really make sense. You can try to shortcut the process, by saying a new answer you’ve thought of must be right, but this just feeds into the problem, since it’s not recognizing certain feelings you may have of things not being totally completed yet, or not making total sense, or not feeling right. This is essentially impatience with the process, and an escape from it, perhaps because of discomfort, or maybe because of fear or panic. Addressing these feelings can be part of the process too, but, they may be, in some ways, a detour from the actual issue. Again, things like this can take an indeterminate amount of time to work through.

Negativity is, in some sense, a product of a decision not to go through this process. To not do something is instantaneous, and it “relieves” you of that journey (though it may really “deprive” you). In this state, there can be multiple outcomes:

  1. Martyrdom – You end up “suffering through it” – enduring the feelings and negative emotions, while trying to just get by as best you can, without actually working through those feelings. One way this manifests is to compromise on what you’d actually like, and to assert that certain things “are fine”, when really, to you, they’re not.
  2. False Positivity – Like #1, you can end up just denying the problem, and becoming falsely positive, pretending everything’s alright when, really, you don’t feel like it is. Here, you feel bad, but you get out of what you may perceive as “work”, and this may be because you’re negative about the process, of working through your feelings, itself.
  3. “Trying to Make Due” – Here, you may be recognizing the problem, and that you don’t like something, but at the same time this sort of thinking can still be a sign of further conflict to work through, since it expresses the sense of burden you may be carrying in the present circumstance. It can be easy at this point to leave your feeling work to the side, but there is still something to work through, personally, because things still don’t feel right by you, even if you think they should, or if you want to believe they’re “good enough”. Changes in your circumstance, nor time, nor chance can be relied on to “heal wounds” – instead, there are other ways of approaching negative feelings like burden, ones that can bring you to a positive, more balanced or lightened place. Instead of “trying to make due”, one can entertain the mindset “more to work through” when they feel affected or burdened, as it may help to keep the area active until positive thinking and feeling reemerges.
  4. Procrastination – You can keep putting off working through it. You can always work through your emotions “later”, putting it off again and again. Yet, in the mean time, you still have to deal with the consequences, and you don’t get to find a better way, or ways that feel right to you. You may end up complaining about your circumstances, but there’s still a “way out”, just one that isn’t instantaneous.
  5. Complaining – Like was said in #3, you may end up complaining a lot about circumstances, which may not do anything to change them, and really are out of your control. In some ways, one could consider that this is one’s consciousness complaining about one’s decision to do nothing, or about the feeling of being stuck. This is normally what I think of when I talk about negativity.
  6. Self-Appeasement, Addiction – In your mix of emotions, certain behaviors may come to mind out of various fears, cravings, or desires going on in you, and you might end up going with these just to postpone working through your conflicts. In essence, you can end up acting in ways that, in total, you don’t really agree with, but you end up “giving in” to them, in order to just keep your cravings quiet. You may feel guilt, confusion, indecision, panic, etc, yet still do these things.

Working Through Negativity

So, if not working through negative states and emotion can perpetuate negativity and create issues, what can solve it? I’d propose a few principles:

  1. Keep an open mind – As tempting as it can be to try and force a solution on yourself when you’re feeling bad, it may be that the true answer is entirely in the realm of the unknown, and must be searched for, reasoned out, or found. If you already have the answer, then why don’t you feel better? Allowing yourself to feel exactly what you feel can better help you see the problem.
  2. Let yourself be negative – all of the problematic answers to negativity that were listed in the last section, can be traced back to trying to escape negativity. If you let yourself feel what you feel, even if it is only in part, then you probably have a better shot at really working through it, because you’re accepting the emotional and felt environment you’re in as it is.
  3. Allow Impatience, But Avoid Following it – Impatience brings with it the promise of escape and relief. And, sometimes, maybe our impatient feelings do have wisdom for us – maybe they can point out to us how we’re taking the long way around on an issue when there’s a shorter one to explore. Doesn’t mean you should – you can still reason with impatient feelings, without reacting to them (by immediately changing direction) or shutting down the one that you’re getting impatient about.
  4. Try to keep an observational, meditative stance with your feelings – It can get all too easy to get caught up in our emotion, to feel frenzy, despair, destitution, longing, fear. It might get really intense, and we might want to get away from it. Instead, we can do what we can to just relax and observe our emotion from outside of it. Even a storm can be viewed through a window. This one may take the practice of noticing when we’re wrapped up in something, and consciously calming down so that we can observe instead, but it is a skill that can be improved upon.
  5. Connect yourself with what it’s like feeling positive – Whether it’s feeling hopeful, at peace, relaxed, at one, delighted, enthusiastic, or blissful, you can consider in the moment what that’s like. Whatever emotional mayhem you’re in, you can still connect with your sense of what you’re aiming for, and what would feel good to you. But try not to remember it as a concept that you’re separate from, which can be like torture, but rather connect with the actual feeling. After all, even if you can’t feel at peace with the situation in front of you, you can still feel peace. If what you’re in is creating tension, you can still relax, consciously. Feeling the difference may even serve to help you examine the difference between your current mode and that more positive feeling, and it may help you see perspectives that could help point out to yourself where your thinking is mistaken. For instance, thoughts about everything you can’t do might not make as much sense if you connect with a feeling of empowerment, and can see the falsehood in thinking that you can’t, or else, it may help you to redirect focus onto what you can do.

Probable benefits of working through negativity:

  • Greater enthusiasm for life
  • Feeling better in general
  • Positive thinking
  • Less of a sense of regret
  • More Self-honesty
  • Cultivate the ability to remain positive even in difficult circumstances
  • Greater sense of happiness
  • Less of a need to be fake with yourself or others
  • Faith in your own ability to act
  • Feelings of being comfortable and self-assured
  • Feeling more like your life is in your own hands, rather than fate or other people – and as such, you blame others less
  • Overcome obstacles with greater ease
  • Knowing your own power, greater self-belief
  • Feeling like you can allow life, and other people around you, to be as they are, since you can act anyway
  • Inner strength
  • See things more clearly and with an open, examining mind
  • A greater sense of being empowered

Articles Related to Negativity

  • Impatience – Impatience with the process of working through feelings can lead one to avoid the process, in an effort to escape the feelings involved, which can delay the process and keep you feeling bad, distracted, or frightened
  • Move Beyond Your Dissatisfaction with Life – Talks about some ways of dealing with a profoundly negative view towards life that may exist inside of you.
  • Find your Curiosity and Move Past Failure – How curiosity helps to deal with frustration at failure without giving up on one’s goals.