Negativity is like cancer. Even if you do not notice the negativity from the start, it eats away at you, inside, until it affects every aspect of your life. Once this happens, it is difficult to find peace, contentment, or happiness, or even to see the bright side of a gloomy situation. Negativity not only ruins your mood and outlook, it adds undue stress that can lead to an untimely demise, and negativity has a lasting effect on your relationship as well. Negative and relationships is not a good mix. A negative attitude influences your life, but it also affects those around you. Your bad attitude can influence anyone you encounter, potentially ruining his or her attitude or whole day. And if your negative mood can ruin the mood of someone you are not close to, imagine what it can do to the people you are close to – especially your spouse or partner.
Negativity and Brain Science
Negativity destroys your own mind – thoughts, moods, attitudes, etc. – and it can be difficult to recover from long-term negativity. This pattern in thinking becomes a habit, and over time, it is nearly impossible to remember how to think optimistically or to change the pattern from negative to positive. That’s not to say it cannot be done; many people have successfully defeated this monster, but it takes time and effort to change your way of thinking. Most people, however, are so caught up in their pessimism, brought on by circumstances and poor coping skills, that they fail to consider or realize the influence their sharing of these thoughts has on others.
Negativity shared with another person not only brings them down as well, potentially destroying their mood and thought pattern; it also has a physical effect on the brain. The hippocampus – the section of the brain responsible for problem solving – shoulders the burden caused by negativity. It takes a mere thirty minutes of listening to someone’s complaints and negative thoughts to begin destroying neurons within the hippocampus. Essentially, those exposed to the negativity find it difficult to think, learn, or concentrate, and the scientific explanation is that this destruction of neurons turns the brain to “mush.” In a manner of speaking, exposure to just half an hour of negativity makes people dumb. The destruction of neurons has some effect on intelligence, ability to focus, ability to reason, and problem solving skills. And even if a person’s intelligence doe not noticeable diminish, their brain is still affected by the dominance of negativity. It’s not really fair to expose others to your negative thoughts, given the effects they are bound to experience.
Negativity vs. Valid Concerns
Negativity and valid concerns are two very different things. Negativity is wrought with ‘poor me, pity me” words such as “impossible” and “never,” and inaction. Negative complainers rarely want to take action and make the effort to change things; they simply want to complain for the sake of complaining and for some attention. The old adage that “Misery loves company” is true, even if the Negative Nelly in question does not consciously intend to bring others down. Valid concerns differ because they are not wrought with negativity. They come in the form of advice-seeking questions or the need for a compassionate ear, followed by gratitude and a plan of action. It’s okay to voice valid concerns to your partner for the sake of their compassion and input. It’s the constructive strategy used to voice those concerns and the follow-up efforts employed that distinguish valid concerns from negativity.
Negativity and Relationships
Negativity often starts small; internal thoughts that dominate your mind until you implode or explode. Eventually, that negativity is shared with others, most commonly your spouse or partner. Moreover, if this pessimism continues, it will permeate your environment, even disrupting or destroying the best of relationships. Those with already difficult relationships may not be capable of recovering from such a blow, at least not without professional intervention. Listening to your negativity not only destroys your partner’s brain, it also leads to disagreements and eventual resentment. Your partner may tire of hearing your pessimistic attitude and after dealing with it for a time and even attempting to be encouraging, they may find it stressful. At this point, they will probably wash their hands of the issue, resigning to live with it or to cut and run. If they choose to just live with it, odds are they will not be happy. And if they run, well, much of this may have to do with some resentment.
Negativity is selfish. It is not encouraging or uplifting to your partner, and this self-absorbance leads many partners to believe that their significant Negative Nelly is not ambitious or action oriented and has no desire to change their way of thinking and no desire or time to consider their partner’s thoughts or needs as well. Even when love is present, negativity is a devastating blow that must be conquered or lead to reevaluation of the relationship.