Thursday, February 7, 2013

Negativity - the Beast Within

Some people are naturally bubbly, happy, and optimistic.  As a pessimist, I did not care for these people.  I thought they were phonies - or on drugs.  In fact, I hated these people.  Sure, hate is a strong word, but that's what I felt.

But I was wrong to feel this way.  Had I paid attention to them, I would have learned something.

I used to be extremely negative.  It got to the point where I lost all of my friends.  Now I never had many friends to begin with, so it didn't hit me right away that I had begun alienating them with my nasty attitude.

I know now, that I drove them away.  I'm still not clear on just how, because no one ever told me.  It's not as if I got an email that read, "You sir, are a dirt bag, and I shall have no further lunches or Facebook commentary with the likes of you.  Good day."

Now, this will sound a bit insane, but when it came to cynicism and negativity, I used to think, "This is who I am.  There's no changing me."  I assumed people wanted me to be this way, because of the things I'd say when I was in a bad mood - the snappy comebacks, the sarcasm, the snark.  I thought they enjoyed my complaining, because it made for good stories and blog posts.

See, I have blogged before.  I had one blog where I made fun of products (and almost got sued), and another where I just bitched pretty much non-stop.  I told stories about my neighbors, my coworkers, strangers I'd encounter, and so much more.  If I couldn't bitch about something, I'd have no story.  My dominant thoughts were negative, so bad things happened to me almost daily.  "Write what you know!!" they say.  Well, I knew how to create misery for myself.  I also thought that being nice was a sign of weakness, that it was "wimpy."  Looking back on my life, I understand where the cynicism came from.  It evolved over a period of years, slowly.  I wasn't always like that.  I became that way as I reacted negatively  to the people and circumstances around me, creating more events by attracting them to myself.

I also noticed that my negative blog attracted people who shared the same cynical outlook.  The "nice, happy" people never seemed to read it, no matter how funny I thought it was.  They'd glance at it, but tell me that they didn't "get it."  I recoiled at this.  "What's not to get?  My neighbor got on my nerves and I plotted to kill her!  What the hell is wrong with you?"

I think the turning point was when someone said to me (paraphrasing), "I kind of wish bad things would happen so you could write about them."  I felt a little used (yet flattered) when I read this.  Doesn't this person want to hear good things come out of me?  I'm not always getting into fights with strangers or bumping into idiots from high school.

I never asked.  I just stopped blogging.  I saw, somehow, that I was causing these crappy (yet blog-worthy) things to happen to me, time and time again.  Disastrous trips, subway delays, and nasty grocery store cashiers plagued me.  I could barely keep up with the barrage of sitcom-worthy calamities that defined my life.  I enjoyed having so much material, but I grew weary of it, like a clown who's been getting pies smashed in his face for too long.

I became depressed after this, because I thought, "There's something really wrong with me.  Not everyone should feel so shitty, day after day.  This can't be normal.  Look at how much better other people are living.  Why can't that be me?  Why can't I be happy?"  I thought I was cursed.  Little did I know that I cursed myself. Good job, stupid.

Part of me thought that if I didn't bitch, the people who enjoyed my blogging would go away.  You know what?  They went away when I stopped blogging anyway.  They didn't start calling me up on weekends and begging me to hang out, and they didn't ask for more blog entries.  They moved on.

At my lowest, I decided to blog once more, but this time, I would embrace the negativity and self-hate like never before.  I started a new blog.  I called it, "New York Cynic".  I was so pleased with this catchy, pun-tastic title, but deep inside of me, I knew it was the wrong way to go.

I wrote one miserable, whiny post for this new blog.  It was just me whining about not having a social life.  It was a pathetic cry for help that would surely have backfired had I posted it.  There was no wit or humor in it, it was just a bitch fest.

So, where am I going with all this?  Well, you can't be a negative, whiny complainer and expect results from the Law of Attraction.  It starts when you get yourself into a better mood, and sometimes that's easier said than done.  One of the first things I did was write a list of what I call "Mood Shifters" and I kept it in my wallet.  On this list, I wrote things that make me happy instantly.  You can do this to.  Maybe there's a certain scene from a movie or TV show that makes you laugh every time you hear it.  Maybe there's a concert you saw where you had the time of your life, or maybe it's as simple as writing down the name of your child or pet.  Do you like cupcakes or Starbucks coffee?  Write that on your list if it makes you happy.  Most of the things that we get upset about are temporary nuisances.  The trick is to get past them as quickly as possible, because if we let them pile up, they weigh us down.

Like anything else, this takes practice.  I am now able to shrug my shoulders and move on a lot quicker than before.  In the past, hearing bad news or getting into a fight with someone would ruin my day, that night, and spill over into the next day.  But now, I can shrug it off, and go look for something that makes me happy.   I know this sounds a lot like I'm sticking my head in the sand, but hear me out:

Let's say a coworker just finished the last of the milk, and left the empty carton in the fridge.  Your instinct might be to find that person and mash it into their forehead the way James Caan mashed that burned manuscript into Kathy Bates' mouth in Misery.  But before you pin them to the commercial grade carpet yelling, "Eat it til you choke!" you need to stop and ask yourself, "Is this worth it?"  Nine times out of ten, the answer is, "No."  Once you realize that, you'll feel a little stupid, but you'll also feel so much relief, because you've just avoided making things worse.  Plus, you've got one less worry on your mind.

At the end of the day, you are in control of your fate.  Once you realize that you have the power to affect your own future, you'll be amazed.  You deserve to be happy, and no one can do it but you.

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