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Negativity. We are all familiar with it as a lower energy feeling. The simple definition of negativity is the expression of criticism or pessimism. However, that definition doesn’t go deep enough.
Negativity is a tendency to feel downcast, disagreeable and cynical. It’s a pessimistic attitude that expects the worst in life.
Anyone can experience a negative feeling or a low vibe day. Temporary negativity is often the result of an illness or accident, unexpected life circumstances or personal difficulties. However, when most thoughts about the world, life, others and the self tend toward the bleak, negativity can become habitual.
Like positive thoughts, negative thoughts create neural pathways. The more negative thoughts and experiences we have, the more entrenched those pathways become. We actually condition ourselves to think negatively and find the bad in life.
We can shrug and say, “I’m just a negative person.” However, that negativity comes with a price. Check out negativity’s impact on health and learn how to shift.
Signs of Negativity
Not sure if negativity is becoming habitual in your life? It can show up in these ways:
Cynicism – a distrust of people and their motives
Hostility – unfriendliness or opposition towards people, often accompanied by anger
Unreasonable anger – an intense emotional state involving strong, non-cooperative responses to perceived hurts, provocations or threats.
Skewed perceptions – only seeing the bad in situations or people
Assumptions – assuming bad things will happen
Blaming – assigning responsibility for wrongs or faults to others or believing you are a victim of life circumstances
Feeling of doom – expecting terrible, destructive fates to happen
Paranoia – thinking everyone…or life…is out to get you
Negativity’s Impact on Health
Negative situations, relationships and thoughts create stress. The body responds by releasing the hormone cortisol, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone.
This hormone is valuable when we are faced with actual danger. However, when the body stays in fight or flight mode, for extended periods of time, it has a detrimental effect on the body and on health.
Common effects of negativity on the body include:
Brain disorders – degenerative brain diseases, dementia, stroke, depletion of brain chemicals required for happiness
Heart disease – chest pain, heart attacks, high blood pressure
Digestive issues – slowed digestion, hardening of organs in digestive system, upset stomach, type 2 diabetes, irritable bowels, overeating, loss of appetite
Immune system – increased infections, inability to fight off inflammation which leads to many types of diseases
Fatigue – sleep disorders, tiredness, irritability, muscle tension and pain
Headaches – tension, jaw clenching, migraines, eye strain
Mental health – anxiety, fear, depression, social withdrawal, unhappiness
Changing Negativity to Positivity
Have you experienced any of the signs of negativity? Once we become aware of negativity’s impact on our bodies, we can shift it.
Here are ways to overcome negativity, lessening its impact on health and creating positive pathways in the brain:
Limit – turn off the news, stop reading negative posts on social media, unfriend or block or snooze negative people to clean up your feed, carefully choose who you hang out with, set boundaries with negative family members, remove yourself from negative situations, people and conversations
Live in the moment – release the past, forgive others and yourself, don’t worry about the future, focus on tasks at hand, speak positive affirmations
Practice gratitude – every day, express thanks for all the good things in your life
Engage in activities you love – do what brings you joy, laugh, play, explore new hobbies, spend time with people who encourage you, create, offer to others
Meditate – learn to still the mind, let go of negative thoughts, focus on breathing
Take action – if a negative situation or thought arises, take positive actions. For example, if a driver cuts you off in traffic, starting a negative train of thought, slow down, take deep breaths, and allow another car room to change lanes in front of you.
Making Positive Choices
When signs of negativity show up in your body, affecting health, make choices.
When I’m in a negative situation or around negative people, my body responds in specific ways.
My jaw and hands clench, the muscles in my face, neck and scalp tighten and I get a headache. I notice my breaths are rapid and shallow. If I don’t remove myself quickly enough from the situation, my body goes into shut down mode. I can’t see or hear well and my throat narrows, limiting my ability to speak. For me, it feels like negative energy overwhelms me, overpowers me. It’s not a feeling I like.
The best choices I can make are to get out of the situation, leave the conversation or walk away from the person. As my body calms from fight or flight mode, I practice deep breathing, express gratitude, go for a walk outdoors or spend a few minutes in meditation to restore my positivity.
How does it feel, when you encounter negativity? What choices can you make, to shift back into positivity?
Remaining healthy at every age includes removing the habit of negativity from your life. It’s not just an attitude adjustment or a glass half full mentality…although those are important. Shift the negativity for a healthier you and a longer, happier life.
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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.