We’re surrounded by negativity everywhere we turn. The news we read, social media and conversations we have. We absorb stress from our family, friends and colleagues….. by now some of you must be feeling drained, that notwithstanding all your efforts in saving your business….this is all hopeless. Stop a second and breathe. Let me try and help you get rid of some of the toxicity we are all swimming in.
It is true that there is a great deal to be negative about. However, preaching and spreading negativity can have toxic effects. All the research in the world keeps showing that when exposed to negativity this interferes with our working memory and decreases our performance, reducing our ability to process and recall information. We tend to shut down, stop communicating and cease being helpful to others. Dysfunctional and aggressive thoughts (and sometimes actions) skyrocket.
So how can we counter these effects? Psychologists call it thriving — the psychological state in which people experience a sense of both vitality and learning. When people feel even an inkling of thriving, it tends to buffer them from distractions, stress and negativity.
So how do you increase your thriving especially when it feels like you’re drowning in negativity? Here are some tactics that various research have concluded upon.
- Avoid negativity. Pay attention to what you’re ingesting: what information you chose to read, the media you consume, the music you listen to, the people you choose to spend time with and the people you look up to. Negativity seeps into our pores through these sources. So make simple choices away from negativity and toward positivity.
- Watch out for what you say out loud. Negative language is particularly insidious and potent. Be mindful of what you’re thinking and saying. Yes, those around you influence you and your mood, but we have more control over our thoughts and feelings than anyone else and what we say out loud also carries significant weight. So, think twice about how you’re framing and speaking about a situation. Instead of saying, “This is the worst I’ve ever seen,” or “It’s catastrophic,” (or “devastating” or “terrible”), tweak your language to be more neutral. You might say, “This situation is challenging,” which recognises the opportunity for growth or learning. You can — and should — acknowledge the truth, while minimising its power to drag you down.
- Adopt a neutral mindset. Negative thoughts and worries take us off track. We’re more likely to struggle on basic tasks. It also hurts others because they are then exposed to our negativity. Of course, it’s all too easy to dwell on toxic people or situations. It’s far better to adopt a proactive mindset, focusing on what we can control and what we should do next. Neutral thinking is a nonjudgmental, nonreactive way of assessing problems and analysing crises. This includes staying in the moment, reacting to each moment as it unfolds and keeping your focus on how you can influence your next action. Don’t get sucked into analysing past failures or hijacked by future fears or thoughts. One thing at a time, please
- Practice gratitude consistently. There is lots to be said about the benefits of gratitude. Gratitude reduces our stress, makes us happier and helps us reach our goals. Routinely feeling grateful increases the social support we receive, which further reduces stress and its negative effects. It’s especially powerful when practiced alongside neutral thinking. With an “attitude of gratitude” you can be thankful for a challenge and get through it.
- Take care by managing your energy. You can also increase your resilience in the face of negativity and encourage thriving by exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep — all things we know we’re supposed to do but we often fail to when we’re bombarded with negativity. When we exercise, our muscles pump “hope molecules” into our bodily systems that are good for our mental and physical health. You can amplify these effects by exercising outside, with others, or to music. Healthy eating also helps you stave off negativity. How well do you respond to frustration when you’re hungry? We lack the self-control required to respond patiently. Sleep is also important. A lack of it impairs self-regulation and self-control, which can produce more negativity. Research has linked poor sleep to frustration, impatience, hostility, anxiety, low levels of joviality, lower levels of trust and unethical behavior.
- Seek out positive relationships — inside and outside of work. Research indicates found that de-energizing relationships, in which one person possesses an enduring, recurring set of negative judgments, feelings and intentions toward another person, have four to seven times greater impact on an employee’s sense of thriving than energising, positive relationships. To offset these effects, surround yourself and spend more time with energisers i.e. the people in your life who make you smile and laugh and lift your spirits.
You may not be able to stop the flow of negativity in your life, especially right now, but you can resist its toxic effects by making smart choices about who and what you surround yourself with, the mindset you adapt and the information you consume. May you stop drowning and start thriving.
If you feel you just want to have a chat on your sense of “drowning” as you try to save your business, just send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org. This is just me trying to help you, not to have you become a client.