Why are you so F@#$ing Negative all the time?
In a past relationship, a huge source of disconnect with a former love was his almost continual negative funk. It seemed like every day was dooms day. Like I would try and be loving and tell him all the positive things that could happen or the lessons that we could take from this, I would get so frustrated with his negativity that I sometimes want to just shake him and say "listen! Shut up! Life is not that bad!"
He would comment to me - you are always trying to pour syrup on sh#t and call them pancakes.
Nah, not quite - It was not that I didn't see negative things, I would just choose to focus on something else. I never wanted to pretend that negative stuff wasn't happening. I just wanted to look beyond it.
I was raised to believe that nothing was ever on accident not even the bad things. There was always a reason, blessing or lesson behind all the negative things so I accepted them. The hard truth is that bad things happen to good people all the time. It is not what happens but how they deal with it.
It is the very definition of making lemonade out of lemons or in my case margaritas.
Is it easy? No. Sometimes it is very painful. Some of these questions are hard and real.
Why did my husband leave me?
Why is my child going through this?
Why did my job lose funding?
Why did a freaking car hit my house (true story)?
But more often than not there was always an answer but I had to get quiet to hear it. I had to be accountable for my piece in the situation and I had to be willing to make a change. People get so stuck looking at the closed door in the burning house that they don't recognize that there is an open window right next to them...
I was raised by my father and often I have been told that I think like a man.
This is not thinking in a sexist manner but in a fixing manner.
If you tell me the problem, I will be willing to look for a solution with you. Let's really focus on what you want. Let's make a plan. Let's break it down into steps. Let's celebrate the small wins...
This is what makes me an excellent Life coach - I think all things can be made to at least feel better, if you have a game plan...
It is not the glass is half empty - or half full concept - My thoughts were always - hey you could solve all of this if you just refill the glass.
In learning how to be a therapist, I had to totally abandon those skills that made me an very effective life coach and trade them for "being present" with my clients.
It is a very feminine characteristic to just sit with someone and allow them to exist where they are and not try to fix. Believe it or not fixing is not always what is right.
Sometimes people just need you to listen...
Sometimes people just need you to honor where they are...
Sometimes people need to know that someone sees them in the midst of their sh*t...
I am reminded of a scene from a movie entitle "White Men Can't Jump" where the female character Gloria is in bed with her mate and tells him she is thirsty. He brings her water and a fight ensues. Gloria notes that sometimes she doesn't want her man to fix things. She wants him understand that want and not fix but sympathize with her thirst. She wants to know that "he too has had thirst."
Check the clip - https://youtu.be/1zrLq6zW3UI
While obviously it is not always that simple - sometimes it is...
But that brings me to my next point about demanding that people be or do something that they are just not ready to do (yet) - is a waste of time and often brings the exact opposite result
So why are you so F$%^ing negative all the time?
First of all, it really is a very natural human emotion to be negative. It is actually easier for us to see negative than to acknowledge that something is positive.
The best example comes from this class I was taking a class while getting my MSW. The teacher told us to close our eyes and on her count raise our hands when we thought of something positive that happened within the last couple of days. It took about 45 seconds for everyone to raise their hand. She then asked us to close our eyes again and think about something negative that has happened with in the last couple of hours and the raise our hands when we thought of something. It took about 13 seconds for all of us to raise our hands. These are people studying to be professional counselors and it took us 3 times as long to think of a positive thing than a negative.
Feeling bad about things is something our body recognizes easier than positive easy feelings... We are very clear about feelings that we don't like and the resonate with our bodies as something that is bad. It is easier for us to acknowledge bad feelings because they are CLEAR. Good feelings are not as transparent.
So what does that mean? Maybe I owe my ex an apology for pushing him to think positively about some things... I would say yes if he did not have to capacity to be positive but most of us do. Most of us can train our minds to see the silver lining or the lesson. Even if the lesson was not a pleasant one. Even though I was asking him to do something that I felt like would benefit him - MAYBE just maybe - my approach was totally wrong.
nah...yeah - that is what it was...
But, by demanding for someone to look on the bright side or to be positive you are actually doing the opposite.
Why cant you be positive for once?
Why are you so negative all the time?
So we won't go into the extreme nature of this conversation - people are not always or never anything... And by pushing them with this tone, you make them feel shame about not being positive.
Now if you know shame like I know shame, this can go 1 of 2 ways. Either they acknowledge that they are probably on the wrong side and try to shift OR they fight you on it and get largely defensive....
Listen, I will give you a hint - MOST people, it doesn't really motivate them to do anything but ignore you or get defensive.
Once someone gets defensive - pack it up.
you have lost
it doesn't matter if you are right or not
Whatever you were arguing about will stay unsolved until they shift and if they are petty and stubborn that could be awhile.
So some tips... If you see someone is focusing on the negative part and blocking out all that could be a blessing...
Acknowledge what it is that they are feeling
"Wow - this is really messed up (whatever it is)"
"You must be really (sad/mad/bummed/whatever) about it"
and now here is where we change the perspective...
"So what are you going to do?"
"What needs to happen first?"
"How can I help you with that?"
this provides a space for them to brainstorm (with your assistance if you want) next steps... This is even good to do for yourself when you find yourself stuck in the problem.
Now understand your mate, your friend or whomever you are talking to (including yourself) is not a cookie. What does that mean? That means that this is not a cookie recipe that you can follow every time and get the same results. Sometimes people take a while to be "done" with being mad. If they are not give them space or just sit with them and let them vent.
Supporting someone you love is a fickle thing whether it be your child, your mate, your sister or your parent... Just remember that sometimes all they really need is to be heard.
Life is hard most of the time - be the easy space that they can breathe...