Accept the Negativity in Ourselves and Others
When we feel someone is being ‘too negative’, we can sometimes want to ‘correct’ this with positive thinking. However when we do this, we often find that our efforts are unappreciated. Why is this? Surely everyone prefers to feel positive? The truth is, you might be doing more harm than good. How can we accept the negativity?
The negative in communication
When people communicate, they are often communicating things that are important to them. Nevertheless, there is a temptation for us to sometimes judge the things they say as negative, in other words, focusing on sadness, anger, lack of confidence, pessimism and failure. Sometimes we can't bear to hear these things. This can be because we feel successful and positive, or it can be that our own life is such a struggle that we cannot bear to have these negative feelings raised in case we are infected.
However, sometimes people are driven to communicate these feelings towards us.
The desire to be heard and understood
These negative thoughts are the way that they actually feel about things. They are having a hard time, and they want someone else to hear and to understand. If we can take the time to hear and understand, this can help lift the burden for them. An empathic response can be a very powerful response. In contrast, when we counter their negative feelings with positive talk, we are essentially saying that we don't understand and that we haven't really listened; further we are also telling them that they are wrong to have this response and that the right response is happiness, joy, optimism etc. When we are low and seek out another to tell them how we feel and we are then rebuffed, we are damaged.
Accept the negativity in ourselves
It's the same for ourselves – we need to understand and accept that we sometimes feel negative. It might help you if you can try to understand that this may be a wholly realistic response to what is going on around you, and that in time you will feel differently anyway.
Professionally trained psychotherapists understand the power of empathy, and know that we need to show that we understand our clients before they can make progress; further, the mere act of being understood is for some people a powerfully soothing response.
– Tim Hill
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