Dethroning the negastar

How do you stop an addiction to negativity?

By Anna Gamboa Gan


There are certain people who create joy just by leaving a room or gathering. They’re people accused of having that perpetual rain cloud following them around, always seeing the glass half-empty, or often end up beating their chest about the latest adversity to befall them. “Woe is me! Why me?!” they wail.

Why indeed. Sometimes these people aren’t aware of their effect on others—or themselves. And as absurd as it sounds, some people may be hooked on being negative, just as some people can get addicted to extreme sports.

Bad habit

Life coach Maricel Laraya is of the opinion that as long as the individual doesn’t have psychiatric conditions, any thought processes or patterns that were learned “can be unlearned.”

She continues, “When we realize that certain thought patterns, belief system, mindset [or] attitude are hindering us from progress, living a productive life, experiencing joy and happiness—then it’s probably wise to search within and make a decisive move for something better.”

Registered counsellor Michele Alignay has a slightly different view of things, and says “There may be inner issues in the person like brokenness and insecurity, unresolved traumas, irrational thinking or perceptions, and the way of living the person grew up on and his growing up experiences that contributed to the how he has become and to the events in his life. What we focus on grows. It’s the same thing with circumstances in life.”

Averting the supernova

If this way of living or thinking has become a habit, can it be changed? Both Laraya and Alignay say yes. “But it requires time and conscious effort,” says the latter. “The first step is awareness, [and] from this [the] action plan can be set.” Apart from reading self-help books and consulting mature people or professionals who can offer objective help, Alignay recommends programs like “Reparenting the Child Within” by Reintegration for Care and Wholeness Foundation Inc. “[It] will help the person identify where his issues during childhood lies and how it affected his adult life.”

Can well-meaning family and friends stage an intervention? Laraya thinks that it’s best to attempt to help the person realize his shortcomings, rather than change him—connecting rather than correcting. “Unless a person chooses to change, it’s almost pointless and a waste of time to make it your personal mission,” she advises, then elaborates the following approaches:

• Acknowledge his point of view, then encourage a shift. For example, you can say “I understand what you are saying and I feel for you. Can I tell you what I think?”

• Ask permission before offering advice. Verbalize an observation, such as a pattern to focus on the negative aspect of things. Express your thoughts then ask: “What do you think?” This question shows the other person that you respect his or her opinion. If they hold on to their usual ideas, then let it be. We need to face this reality: Unless a person chooses to change, it’s almost pointless and a waste of time to make it your personal mission.

• Offer inspiring stories or examples on how another person dealt with a similar situation positively. Engage them in discussion geared towards looking at the brighter side of things.

• Encourage them to make a conscious effort to surround themselves inspiring books or movies, cheerful people, and so on. Suggest a hobby, fitness program, or volunteer work to give them a sense of contribution or achievement.

Where to go

Reintegration for Care and Wholeness Foundation Inc. (RCWFI)
Telephone: (02) 436 0710 or 426 6832
Mobile: (0921) 633 2587

If things persist, what else can you do? Read more about negating the negative in the November issue of HealthToday, out now in bookstores and newsstands.

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