What's Your Negativity Style?None By Homaira Kabir
Negativity is a part of life. After all, it's impossible for things to always go our way—although wouldn’t it be nice it they did? Plans fall apart, desires go unfulfilled, and dreams crumble through no fault of our own. In turn, we feel frustrated, angry, unhappy, or just plain sad.
None of this is harmful, by any means. It’s part of the natural stress response, which is actually quite beneficial for us. But we often don’t see it as such. Instead, we see it as something to be avoided, so we try to run away from it. This classic fight-or-flight response to negativity makes us dive for patterns of behavior that we become accustomed to, thanks to mindless repetition.
Buddha called this instinctive reaction an act of throwing "second darts" into ourselves. And it rarely works. In fact, it keeps us stuck in self-defeating habits, adding insult to injury and making us wonder why things never change. It's wise to take a moment to get familiar with your own habitual response, so you recognize it the next time it kicks in.
Negativity Style #1: Are You a Brooder?
Brooders typically live everywhere but in the present moment, and resist everything that is happening right here and now. You may be a brooder if you regularly make judgments about yourself, or find it difficult to accept yourself the way you are. You may also be a brooder if you're often caught in regrets about the past or in worries about the future, none of which you can control. Even though you stay negative, you experience the bittersweet pain of rumination.
Negativity Style #2: Are You a Bottler?
Bottlers, on the other hand, disconnect themselves from their emotional state, and carry on with life as though nothing happened. They can sometimes be a little frustrating to be around—because it's emotions that make us human. You may relate to being a bottler if you find yourself unloading your frustration on innocent others, or you experience a general sense of unease without quite being able to identify a reason for it.
Negativity Style #3: Are You a Booster?
Boosters are increasingly common in our day and age, where our obsession with being happy is forcing us to be positive even when the situation doesn’t call for it. If you distract yourself with happiness boosters the minute you feel unhappy, or run for your gratitude journal as soon as frustration kicks in, you may be a booster. Other signs? A mental “big sister” voice that's constantly admonishing you to be happy.
Negativity Style #4: Are You a Blamer?
Blamers are good at, well, blaming others for all the ills that befall them. They refuse to see their role, however small, in the outcome. And even though passing the blame on to others eventually makes them bitter, angry, and negative, they live for the momentary high of not accepting responsibility for their emotional state. This too is a form of avoidance. These negative reactions suck us into downward spirals and confirm our beliefs that negativity is to be avoided. The reality is that negative emotions have a lot to tell us about our own selves—if only we were to listen. In her book The Upside of Stress, Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says that it's often our understanding of stress that leads to the fight-or-flight response, and not the stress itself. By changing the way we view our negative emotions in the moment, we can open ourselves up to much greater growth and connection. Here are four steps to do so.
Homaira Kabir is a positive psychology coach and cognitive behavioral therapist. She offers courses and coaching to help women develop the self-confidence and inner strength to identify and achieve their biggest and boldest goals. You can take her free quiz on learning to grow authentic self-worth at her website.
You May Also Like