If a stranger asked you if you were a negative or a positive person, what would you say? More importantly, WHY would you say you are positive or negative?
There is an epidemic of chronic illness in our world today. We have become so used to feeling or hearing about fatigue, back pain, high blood pressure, etc., that we no longer look at these symptoms as real signs of disease. We blame our discomforts on “getting older” or staying “busy” without feeling any urgency to actually fix the problem. This blasé attitude is only reinforced by a medical community that is often happy to hand out medication to “control” symptoms without actually treating them.
Our acceptance of disease and discomfort as a normal part of life deserves an article all to itself. What I would like to focus on here is how our own negativity can play an important role in our overall wellbeing. Going back to the question at the beginning of this post- what was your answer? Are you a negative or a positive person? It seems like a straightforward question, but I believe there is actually a third option that is often overlooked. I call these people “quietly negative.”
So, what is a “quietly negative” person? This is someone who sees themselves, and who generally comes across, as positive. However, this same person is also pessimistic and dismissive in their own minds. They talk down to themselves and downplay their strengths. They dislike what they see in the mirror and wish they could be a better [insert job title/parent/spouse here]. All day long, while they go about smiling at the outer world, the inner track in their mind is worrying and questioning and nagging.
Imagine what a constant stream of negative thoughts, no matter how mild and innocuous they may seem, can do to the human body. We know and accept that feeding our bodies “bad” food like that found at fast food restaurants is damaging to our health. If we saw someone with pain and anger issues who ate McDonald’s every single day for a year, we would be quick to point out that their poor health could probably be helped by changing their diet. However, for some reason we do not look at how feeding our bodies “bad” thoughts can have the exact same effects.
The thought processes of a “quietly negative” person are further reinforced by our culture. The majority of our news coverage is on negative events. We don’t often talk about how great we are feeling, but commiserate with friends and loved ones by sharing our woes and pains. (This is not to say that sharing our problems isn’t a good idea, because it absolutely is. However, in my experience people are much more willing to engage in conversations about problems than conversations about happiness and peacefulness.) Even our medical system is set up to reinforce negativity- the idea of preventative medicine is reserved for catastrophic illnesses and does nothing to promote wellness on a day to day basis. Our diagnoses are final and often leave patients with little hope of ever feeling “better.” It’s no wonder small negative thoughts creep into our minds over and over again throughout the day.
Now, what if I told you that you have the power to change your thoughts? This may sound obvious and silly, but it’s amazing how many of us give up that power every day. Whether we are tired, angry, bitter, defeated, or just sad, we have the power to say “no, I choose not to feel this way right now.” This is much easier said than done, and not everyone is in a space where they are ready or able to do it. However, even changing one negative thought per day can have a huge impact on our health. If you feel that you are a negative or a “quietly negative” person, I challenge you to begin to change the way you interact with the world and with yourself. Together, we can lead you to a path of wellness.