Negative Nellies

Ever work or exist with a Negative Nelly? The kind of person that no matter what is going on in their lives, they will always focus on the negative aspects? You ever notice how that person always look like they just went through the most stressful and horrifying moment of their life, all day long?

I have a coworker who, no matter what is going on, never has a positive thing to say. I get that they are overworked, or feel they are, are being asked to do things they don’t want to do, and in general, their personal life is equally negatively charged. She always looks frazzled, exhausted, and in need of a week’s sleep.

I am a firm believer that we create our own personal heaven and hell. If all we do is focus on the negatives, that is all we will ever get. We intentionally have shut our eyes to the great things life brings with the good and the bad and we take that negative and wear it like a weird security blanket. Likewise, if all we do is focus on the positives, we won’t grow because those things that challenge us are what help us to become more than what we are.

I like the movie “Inside Out”. I find it intriguing how they made an attempt to create our emotions, how those emotions interact and how they motivate us. I like the character Joy. I like how she is one of those people who can take any negative and find a good thing about it. I try to be like that while not blocking out the lessons to be learned. I also appreciate the fact that while the child’s driven by Joy, her parents are driven by Sadness (her mom) and Anger (her dad). That seems such a telling insight into these characters, and people in general, really.

I always wonder what happened in that person’s life to make them focus on the negatives. I’ve had a lot of bad/horrible experiences, but I have always found the positive, even when it sucked for a long period of time. The only thing I ever get negative about that is long lasting is how I reacted to those situations. But even then, I have learned how to manage myself better as to not get absorbed in the emotions. I process them when and how I can, but I put no deadline on them. Like, if someone truly upsets me, I might relive that anger over multiple times over years, but each time I process, I find I can shed another layer of the situation, removing more of the negativity from it.

I remember when I was seeing a therapist. She once said to me that for all the things I have been through, I have a very healthy and well-adjusted process for handling them. I kind of wear that as a badge. I mean, I know what affects me. I know what sets off a PTSD episode. I have things I do to reduce the impact, or nurse the impact afterwards to make sure it doesn’t shake me to my core. I do go into evasive actions to make sure that whatever comes at me isn’t something that is beyond my capacity to handle. It has helped me greatly when it has come to situations that are massively messed up, like the old woman who got hit by an F150 at the grocery store right in front of me, and this last weekend when I had to deal with my son’s girlfriend getting into a car accident and dealing with that and his emotions. I’m good in a crisis simply because I can shut off my brain to focus only on what is there and what needs to be done. I guess that is a form of a coping mechanism to reduce the damage.

It is funny though, because I can pinpoint any Negative Nelly within 30 minutes of talking to them. I make a moment’s decision o how involved I want to get in their lives, how much I want to listen, if I want to offer any advice, or if they just want a sounding board to talk at. In the case of my coworker, she just wants a sounding board to talk at. I listen to her situations and I already know she is the source to all her negative experiences and until she realizes that, life will continue to be exhausting and depleting. I don’t offer solutions or advice. I just listen and then promptly forget the conversation. There isn’t a conversation I’ve had with her ever that didn’t devolve into a long complaint, whether about her daughter, her parents, the boss, her coworkers, etc. There is no pleasing her because she doesn’t want to be pleased. It’s a shame because inside, I can see that she is a good, caring person, but she has no desire to let go of the negative cloud that holds her back.

One of the things that I can honestly say about my deep nihilistic period is that despite how dark things may get, in the end, it doesn’t matter to anyone other than me, and even that is negligible. It isn’t that I don’t care, it’s just that I find even if I care, it doesn’t matter, so why waste time and energy being drained into negativity? If it won’t matter in a week, a month, a year, or onward, let it go as soon as it ceases to have merit and value. And that’s what I do. I have learned everything is temporary, and to treat it as such. That has made such a difference in my life.

Life may not be perfect, but I’m happy to know that I am not the source of the unhappiness in my life unless I let myself be. That’s a good thing to always remember.

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