A Conspiracy of Negativity

It is no wonder depression is becoming one of the greatest dangers to individual health these days as well as to national health budgets. Today we face almost a conspiracy of negativity that dominates our thinking and attitudes. And it certainly is in the interests of certain groups of people to keep us negative and unhappy.

We get bad news all the time because that's what sells

Nothing sells like bad news!

The biggest negative influence in the world are the various mass media. And why are they so negative? Because that’s where they make their greatest profits! Only rarely will good news be a major income winner for them. Media push bad news because that’s what sells the best.

Coming a close second on the list of negativity culprits are politicians.Just as much of the Global Financial Crisis was due to herd mentality as much as to real financial weaknesses, I wonder how much of the current Australian financial downtown has been created or at least worsened by opposition politicians talking down the economy in attempts to make the Government look bad.

We seem to have begun a race to the bottom in the last 10 years or so, and not just in Australia. If anything the situation in the USA seems worse. Cooperation, compromise and consensus of any sort is out. There seems to be a new set of guidelines for politicians:

  1. Be unrelentingly negative about everything your opponents do and say. They are never right. Even the most mundane thing coming from them is wrong. You must ALWAYS point this out.
  2. Be as ridiculous as you like. Use repetition and short, memorable slogans. People should not think about them, only remember them. The people should feel, not think.
  3. Do everything you can to bring the government down, even if you have to bring the country to its knees.
  4. “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

These principles above seem hugely familiar to us, if observing today’s politicians. But they are not new. They were first created by the 1930s Nazi propaganda machine. And the person who made the final statement, by the way, was a certain Herr A Hitler.

We, out in the community, are aping our ‘betters’. And like mud, negativity sticks.

I don’t think there is a clandestine international conspiracy by dark forces to keep us all in our places and set up a very negative ‘New World Order’ pushing this negativity. (I know some people do.) I just think it’s the usual short-term greed, ambition and selfishness.

Your Attitude is always Your Choice!

So how do we combat this? If we have a particular situation to address, is a negative or positive attitude more likely to result in a successful outcome?

The answer must be obvious to everyone. A positive attitude is more likely to result in success. If we start with negative expectations, we are already defeated. If you control your happiness and satisfaction level, you are much more in control of your life.

Every person alive faces setbacks and hardships, illness and loss at some point in their lives. The difference between positive and negative people is how they choose to view these problems. The Relaxation Centre in Brisbane used to have a mantra I thought very useful: “This is not a problem, but an opportunity to learn!”

Think positive thoughts! You're in control of how you think.

Be positive! Stand out from the crowd!

Even in the bleakest situations we can choose to take a more positive standpoint. You have the ability to choose whether the emotion you will feel in a given situation is positive and constructive, or negative and destructive. It makes all the difference in dealing with it, and greatly improves our chances of pulling ourselves out of the mire.

This doesn’t mean you ignore the negatives in your situation; burying your head in the sand isn’t going to make them go away. But if you positively address them and try to find a solution, perhaps by breaking a problem up into manageable portions, you are taking positive action, and taking action is the key.

Stepping back for a while to think may be invaluable, even for 24 hours. Distance makes it easier to be objective.

Just don’t give up! Don’t accept defeat! There is always a way!

And always be conscious of the effect you are having on others. The ‘Golden Rule’ – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – applies not only to whether you mistreat others. It also determines how you greet and interact with others.

In other words, be nice to people! Approach the day and others you meet with a smile and a friendly, genuine greeting, and most of the time it will be reflected back to you.

A friendly word can lift someone’s spirits and even make their day. And that is a good aim for any day!

Another really good idea is to pay someone forward for a good deed. There are some people who, when they do something nice for others, say that instead of paying them back, instead they would like the same thing to be done for someone else, also with the same expectation. think how much nicer the world would be if we all did this!

The benefits of a ‘half-full glass’

We all know the question. What type of person are you? A glass half-empty or half-full person? As clichéd as this question has become, it still reveals an important truth.

If you are generally optimistic, you are likely to be happier – and healthier, mentally, emotionally AND physically  – than a person who is generally pessimistic. You are also likely to be more successful in whatever areas you see as important.

And the rate at which you age seems to be slower, both in appearance and in real physical wear and tear. How many really pessimistic centenarians do you see? Almost invariably, people who reach a great age seem to be optimistic and outgoing.

One of the most destructive activities we engage in is blame, and once we start down this path, it is very easy to find people, and situations and parents and weather and fate and the loss of the rabbit’s foot and anything else to be responsible for our problems. And when we do that, we ignore what part something in us may have had to play in our misfortune. And at the same time we close off a significant opportunity to learn from and perhaps to improve our situation.

Negative self-talk is often the reason we cannot free ourselves from the mires we get into, both real and imagined. Before they even start, many people talk themselves out of even trying courses of action that could positively enhance their lives.

It’s not necessarily their fault. We have all usually learned our negative self-talk agenda in our childhood. It is a composite of all the negative statements internalised through childhood and adolescence, and then stored in the sub-conscious, coming out later and influencing our thoughts and actions when faced with similar situations.

So be aware that your way of thinking may be based on past misinterpretations. Make sure any negatives are actually real, and don’t give them more attention than they truly deserve.

Negative behaviours you engage in repeatedly also need to be overcome. I know that is all well and good to say, especially as most such behaviours usually have a strong element of addiction to them. But with most addictive behaviours, you can only make changes with some kind of assistance. It is very important to seek such assistance when you need it. And there are many possibilities out there.

Sometimes you have others – either unconsciously or even quite consciously – reinforcing your negative behaviours and self-talk. The people we are closest to can be enormously destructive to our self-esteem, and family members can be the worst of all for pouring cold water your on all your aspirations and attempts to improve yourself. They may also be unable to help themselves, as it is a result of their conditioning, perhaps because they feel so negative about themselves and act in the way they do. Envy or some other negative emotion could play a part, but they are as much a product of their conditioning as you are.

So practising forgiveness is important. It may make no difference to your nemesis and how they behave. You don’t have to tell them; in fact if you do, you run the risk of upsetting them and making the situation worse. And to be honest, if you tell them you forgive them, it may be more about your ego than the actual forgiveness. So forgive them in your heart, where it really counts. You will feel better and you will have evolved that little bit more.

You may have to consider whether you should keep seeing them, whether they are just too destructive to you. With family, that may be difficult. But whoever, it is, if you cannot keep them out of your life, try at least to limit and/or quarantine exposure. And just resolve to take nothing they say to heart. Put up a mental shield and don’t let anything through. And any plans you have, keep to yourself, and only share them with like-minded people who support your efforts.

The most important lesson is not to talk yourself out of something without trying it first. And then approach it optimistically. Who knows what you will achieve? Lack of taking action is the greatest cause of stagnation. We can dream all we want. Positive change doesn’t come by magic; it comes by activity!

  • If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten!Anthony Robbins, Motivational Speaker (1960 – )