The Trap Of Negativity

Have you discovered the trap of negativity? It’s able to grip quickly and pull you down without much warning.

I’ve found my caught in it’s grip more than I’d like to admit. Have you?

Why Negativity Has So Much Power

Negativity multiplies when focused upon. The choice is ours: Which do we want more of?
— Julia Cameron

You’d be amazed at the power negativity has. Once it takes hold, it’s easy to spiral into a cycle of negativity.

I find myself wondering why this happens. I think I found an answer.

Scientific studies show that negativity is contagious.

There’s power behind negativity. It’s able to quickly multiple when someone starts the ball rolling.

Just think of a time when you entered a room happy only to have someone state a complaint. It was easy to join in and find something to complain about, wasn’t it?

How Negativity Affects Your Leadership

Negativity is expensive. It costs companies millions of dollars each year.
— Gary Topchik

Negativity has a huge impact on your effectiveness as a leader. Whether it be at your workplace or in your home.

  • No one enjoys being around a negative person: Do you know any negative people? Take a look at their life. Do they have a lot of friends? Are they experiencing much success? Probably not. It’s hard to be around a negative person. They sap the energy from the room and replace it with a despair. Eventually killing any joy. Negativity repels people and reduces the amount of influence you have. Thus reducing your level of leadership.
  • People become afraid of you: If you’re always negative and shooting down ideas, people are going to become afraid of you. Nothing will ever be good enough and your team knows it. They’ll pull back and do just the minimum. No need in getting chewed out for trying something new.
  • You’ll get tuned out: As you pile on the negativity, people begin to tune out. The constant barrage of negativity creates a wall. And you’re on the silenced side.

Negativity is a state of mind you need to cut.

How To Stop Being Negative

The best way of removing negativity is to laugh and be joyous.
— David Icke

I want to tell you it’s easy to stop being negative and become positive. If I did, I’d be a liar.

Breaking the negativity mindset is hard. It’s painful. And it takes time.

In fact, I’m working on becoming less negative. I’m struggling with it. But I’d like to share some things I’m learning.

  • Learn to curb negative speech: A lot of the negativity we face comes from the way we speak. We speak negative words more than we realize. Learning to curb negative speech can really change our perspective. When you feel a negative word forming, stop it. Decide to make it into a positive.
  • Surround yourself with positive people: This will be difficult at first. Especially if you’re a very negative person. To be honest, positive people don’t want to be around negative people. They know it will drag them down. Begin forming friendships with those that you see as positive. Work your way into their circles. As you become more positive, you’ll discover more positive people will want to be around you.
  • Stop consuming negative material: Examine what you’re reading or listening to. Is it positive and uplifting? If not, it’s a good sign you need to rid yourself of the negative books or music. Replace it with something positive.

Becoming a positive person takes time and hard work. Don’t get discourage if you fall back into old habits as you embark on the journey to positivity. If you persist, you will succeed at becoming positive.

Question: How have you overcome the trap of negativity? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I haven’t really been trapped in negativity since being in a leadership role, but I’m convinced that it prevented me from becoming a leader earlier.  I changed my mindset and good things began to happen for me.

    • Good point Larry. Negativity can hold us back from becoming a leader. It creates a trap that prevents us from moving forward. What steps did you take to overcome negativity?

      • The first was admit I was being negative. Then I kind of faked being positive until it took hold. I began including more positive influences in my life and eliminated some negatives. Basically, I rewrote my script.

        • That was almost exactly what I was going to post Larry.

          I have been a generally negative person my whole life. When I realized that was career-limiting among other things, I started faking it big time.

          I praised the 80% done right when I want to criticize the 20% done poorly.

          I smiled and welcomed people to my office when I wanted to be annoyed at the interruption.

          I looked for the silver lining and not the cloud.

          I am still a work in progress on this. I’ve made a lot of progress but I’d like to think I am only 20-30% of the way there. That leave a lot of room for improvement in a good way!

          • DS

            Where you lead, the heart will follow.  It’s taking those baby steps.  Sometimes you really do have to “fake it until you make it”.

          • Matt, that’s great to hear you’ve re-written your story as well. It’s amazing what we can do when we realize what’s wrong and that it needs to be changed.

          • I think we always need to have that attitude of there always being room for improvement.

        • DS

          It’s amazing what happens when we admit that something in our life needs to change.

          • It breaks down those barriers to succeeding, right?

        • Awesome Larry. Glad you were able to get out of the negativity trap.

  • I always use encouraging words when I talk to my team. When there is an issue we address the issue and put a plan in place. I don’t get negative about it, because more often than not, it will demoralize people. 

    •  Nice Juan. You’re right in thinking the negativity will demoralize your people. Unfortunately, it’s not what’s been taught in business schools.

  • It’s usually the people you surround yourself with that contribute to negativity.  Even so, you can have positive energy and pull others up.

    • DS

      Sometimes when visiting with one I know is a mostly negative person I try to play a game to see if I can spur them to say at least 1 thing positive during our interaction.

    • So true Dan. If we’re surrounded by negative people it will most likely encourage us to be negative. Do you have any examples of pulling others up and out of negativity?

  • DS

    I believe we can all be trapped by negativity if we don’t carefully work against it.  Look at the news on TV.  Look at the headlines online.  Listen to radio personalities.  Listen to popular songs.  Look at what others have – that you don’t (career, possessions, etc).  All of these can rob us of our positive mindset.  

    You can always ask the question – “is this helping or hurting?” before saying something.You are a product of what you consume.  Over time, the more positive messages you’re continually exposed to the more re-programming that will take place in your mind.

    • Exactly DS. Our media tends to be a huge pit of negativity. Everything is falling apart or coming to an end. In reality, most of the time things are better than we realize and better than reported.

  • My natural tendency is to be negative and cynical. I’ve had to work very hard (and still do) to overcome this. Probably most helpful to me has been to act and speak as if I’m positive. It’s amazing how saying “I feel great!” instead of “I’m getting by…” can change your own perspective of your situation.

    *By the way, I almost feel out of my chair when I saw the pic in this post! Hilarious!

    • You’re another commenter that has done the Fake It Til You Make It. I agree it’s a great tool to use when you need an attitude change.

      Glad you got a kick out of the picture. I saw it and knew I had to use it for a post.

  • I pray and listen to music in those moments but I’m afraid this is an area I really need to work on. It’s just so easy to look at the negative side but I know how truly blest I am to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. That’s reason enough to focus on the positive and more important things in life.

    • I know what you’re saying Kimanzi. It’s tough breaking free of the negativity and to live in the positive. What songs get you out of a negative funk?

      • DS

        How about artists that get me out of a funk?  
        Jars of Clay, Toby Mac, The Ambassador.

        Audio CD in general – Zig Ziglar & John Maxwell

  • Negative thoughts are a constant battle. I negate them with reading my Bible and other inspirational material, talking to my mentors and refocusing my thoughts. Good points.

    • It’s amazing how many people struggle with negative thoughts. It’s one of the major battles in our lives. One the enemy uses effectively.

      You’ve got solid ways to overcome negativity. Keep at it. I look forward to seeing your success!

  • Great topic, I think we all have the ability to become negative. It’s why it’s important to daily check our attitude and actions to make sure they are positive and lead to building up our self and others. Great post!

    • Thanks Dan. It’s amazing what a daily check up from the neck up (as Zig Ziglar would’ve said). Making sure we’re having the right attitude makes all the difference. How do you check yours?

      • DS

        I check my attitude by listening to what I say, as well as how others respond to our interactions.  I may feel fine, but what I hear, or how I see others react communicates otherwise.  I have – yes must – continuously pour the pure, powerful, and promising into my mind, or I too will become negative.  How about you?

        • It’s one of the areas I struggle with DS. It doesn’t come naturally but I’ve been getting better.

          I try to be conscious of my body language. If I’m becoming tense it’s normally a sign negativity is creeping in. I try to stop it then and there.

      • Tuning into God and through self awareness.

  • Edward

    Jesus. He is the only forcefield that can protect you from harmful rays of negativity. where else can you find a more extreme negative situation than a soldier trapped in a fox hole surrounded by the enemy, or a christian woman about to be gang raped? how can they create a positive effect to a extremly negative situation? Both invoke the protective shield and armor of Christ, and know no earthly enemy can murder, or rape thier soul. Both physicaly dead, yet the now thier soul lives forever. For a Christian, or lover of peace there isnt anyone on earth to put our faith in but him, no matter how educated and experienced. still realistically, there human first and can and will let you down. 
    In his reign of no mercy and mass murder of the innocent with thousands of crucifictions, Pontious Pilate was compelled to wash his hands of his murder. Why? He had cesar and the world army for back up. What was he afraid of? How can love and innocence silence the authority of a mass murderer. Make him ponder the truth. try to get him to be judged by another court, for he was afraid.
    Even when wipped to death and covered in blood he was a priceless radiant jewel standing infront of him and blinding him to fear.

    We love and respect our mental health therapist from our human family, and our elders and need there wisdom desperatly, but they also face the same negative every day.

    Even in the midst of hell fire we must appeal to love. Jesus, the author of love. throw all the negatives his way. belive me he can take it. Ask Pilate? He tried everything to the chief counselor and found the only soloution in a wash basin. Jesus and us, were stronger the he and Cesar. we clung on to the positive, and they the negative, and we won!!!

    Without blashemy, fight, argue, debate in a heated manor with Jesus, God gave us humans, this right, Christian, Muslim, Buddist or Jew. Be presistent with him and ask those immposible questions, and he together with you will show you how to deafet the Negative!

    • Edward, great point. Jesus is and should be the ultimate way to correct our negative attitudes. He’s given us more power and grace than anything else. Falling into His arms should when negativity begins to overwhelm us.

  • first off, your picture! awww! just painful to look at
    I find that most negative folks believe they are realists, they like facts, not truth, and are not friends with “hope” – they think hope is for people who live with their heads in the clouds. I know cos been there 🙂 I am still learning – i think this will be a lifelong class. By far, God has been the one leading one leading the process and doing the rewiring. By myself i could not overcome it.

    • DS

      It feels like some folks have had a few bad things happen that really hurt, and some times it’s hard to overcome those deep wounds.  To cope, it can be easier to always expect that hurt, so that if does happen, at least you weren’t surprised.

      • That’s true DS. Some people have had stuff happen to them. They cope and protect themselves in unhealthy ways. ps – not all negative people have these backgrounds, but some do.

        • DS

          Very true.

    • I thought the same thing. Poor kid.

      Interesting thoughts on the subject Ngina. I’ve heard plenty of negative people say they’re realists when confronted about the negativity. Why do you think this is the case?

      • Am not entirely sure…but DS and I did try to figure it out in the thread below 🙂

  • I’ve seen it mentioned a few times further down in the comments, but add my vote for always saying you are “GREAT” versus “glad its Friday” or something equally negative!

    • That can be a help. Our speech and thoughts are a huge influencer of our attitudes.

  • It’s the people we surround ourselves with most that usually makes the biggest difference.

    In fact, take the 5 people you hang with most…average them together…and that’s a picture of you in the next few years. Makes you think deeply about who you hang out with, doesn’t it?

    • I know that’s a favorite saying of Jim Rohn. And I can agree with it. So often our attitudes align with that of those we’re around.

  • One thing that has helped me is to change my thinking on today.  Instead of saying “I have to go to work today”, I say “I get to go to work today.”  Do you see how that simple word adjustment makes a big difference?

    • That’s a great way to change your attitude. By changing a word you then make it almost a privilege to do the work. 

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