Why Are We So Afraid of Negativity?
In today’s world, it seems that there is no place for negativity. Everyone is chasing those #goodvibesonly worthy moments. People are so busy living their best life, at least appearing so, that the slightest sign of negativity sends them running. We shame our friends for being negative, essentially making them feel even worse. So many articles these days on how to stay positive, inspirational quotes, and advice on how to surround yourself with positive people.
I’ve always been seen as one of the negative ones. So I have been told. I have to admit, that being told so, made me feel like shit and instilled a certain fear. It instilled fear and insecurity that I drive people away with my negativity. So I read tons of articles on positive thinking and filled my Instagram feed with bullshit inspirational quotes. None of them felt right. None of them made me feel more positive. It just made me feel like shit even more. I couldn’t live up to that life and that state of mind. At one point, I just stopped and got fed up and angry at the world for rejecting my thoughts and emotions. I said fuck it and went with rational honesty instead, even if it meant that what came out is negative. But at least, I was honest, most importantly, to myself.
When I stopped trying to suppress my negative thoughts and emotions, I actually started to face them. To really understand where they are coming from. They were there for a reason. It’s such a simple and obvious thing, but a lot of us seem to forget that all the emotions we feel are there for a reason. It’s a signal, that something needs your attention and some digging needs to be done to understand it, and if necessary fix it.
Most of the time, when negativity comes up, we are so busy trying to shove it away that we barely even understand why it showed up in the first place. Ignoring negativity is like ignoring that light in your car that tells you it’s time to take your car in for a check-up. The longer you ignore it, the higher the possibility of it breaking down when you least want it to.
When we try to replace negativity with positivity with so little thought and with so much eagerness, are we really replacing it with positivity or temporary distractions? When we don’t face negativity, is the positivity we feel actually authentic? When we ignore half of the emotions on the spectrum, can we really say that we live a full life? At least, I don’t believe so.
I think the biggest reason why negativity is shunned and altogether gets a bad rep is that it can be contagious. It forces people around you to face certain things they don’t want to face or were not ready for. It might very well happen, that when you start crying in the middle of a party, not many people will want to stick around. Negativity does drive people away. However, it drives away the people who didn’t care about you in the first place. Honestly, there are probably not that many people around who do care deeply about us. That’s why true friendship is so precious. However, you will never know who those people are until you let them share the bad with you too. It’s this cheesy old line that we hear over and over again but stands true. People who truly love you would stick by you through thick and thin.
Positivity only thinking is superficial and can very easily lead to group-think. That’s the environment where everyone avoids tension, conflict, and disagreement in exchange for dubious harmony. It replaces much-needed questioning with aimless agreement. When you allow negativity to run its course treating it as an equally necessary part of life, surprisingly good things can happen. In a way, embracing negative emotions can be the foundation of some of the best feelings of positivity, such as feeling grateful and lasting content.
One of my favorite stand-up comedies, Nanette, by Hannah Gadsby is an embodiment of embracing all of the negativity and pain she endured in her life, which she then turned into a masterpiece that is so down to earth and authentic in its message. It is truly a rare piece of art, that breaks down some much-needed sugar coating we have allowed for too long to be idolized in our society. This is what I have against positivity only thinking, that it sugar coats and romanticizes many of the things that we don’t even truly understand. Should Picasso be so idolized even though, essentially he was a pedophile? Should artists suffer for their art? Should we romanticize the fact that Van Gogh cut off his own ears and was a man suffering through mental disorders? If we allow our positive only thinking cloud deep understanding, we will allow the wrong things to be instilled deep into our society without even realizing it.
I am not trying to advocate negativity over positivity. I truly believe that both are equally important for our own well-being and in turn, our society. In order to live a full life, we cannot live on ignoring what we don’t want to deal with and chasing the other. We need to accept both in order to truly experience life.
I will leave this quote from Bob Perkins here:
“I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive and everlasting.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final goodbye.”