Why are we negative?

negativeI have a woman at work who is… let’s call her negative.  She’s a nightmare to work with.  We all have one of those in the workplace.  I’ve grown to just sort of accept that they’re there, and let them sit in their own cloud of darkness while I go about my own life.  But let’s take a moment to talk about it, as it’s an issue that everyone seems to relate too.

What’s the deal?  I am not a negative person.  I get into my moods, like everyone, but I really don’t spend much of my day dwelling on the things that make me angry.  Everyone once in awhile I do find that I’m angry, and I stop to think about why, and tell myself to calm down.  It usually works.  I tell myself that this is my life, and I can choose to be part of anything or nothing.  I can choose to let things affect me, and I can choose to take a breath and release the things that are out of my control.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

This woman at work can’t let anything go.  She can’t answer a question without getting defensive, and she can’t let something pass her without commenting on it.  The worst is when she has some free time, and she looks up celebrity news.  This person is fat, this person looks gross, this person shouldn’t be famous, this person… do we seriously care that much about other people that it affects our personal life?  These are people  hundreds of miles away, and we’re judging them because… well I assume because we have nothing better to do.

My roommate Dee, who I’ve mentioned before is a weight watchers leader, does something that I don’t think she realizes she does.  When someone, anyone, crosses her path, she says whether or not they need to lose weight.  Now I don’t think she’s calling people fat, but she certainly points out the people she thinks she could help.  It’s not that it’s cruel, only that it shouldn’t really be any of her business.  If they want to lose weight, they can come to her for help.  I’m not sure judging them and saying she can help them when she doesn’t know that they need or want help?

My mother, as I think all mothers can be with their daughters, could not just let someone walk by her without comparing them somehow to me.  Her hair is a nicer color, you see, she’s your age and wearing brown, and her eyebrows are that shape I like.  Here’s the thing, mom.  I am who I am, I like what I like, and you’re never going to create in me this miniature version of you that you so obviously want.

Going back to the question, why do we care?  I walk down the street and sometimes I see someone who’s wearing something I would never wear.  In my head, I might think ‘good lord, I would never wear that’.  But I never think ‘that girl sure looks ugly’.  Is it so unusual that I should think that.

After living in a relationship for years where I was constantly made to feel uncertain about my appearance, I realize that I would just die to realize I made someone feel that way.  When my mom, or Dee, starts talking about the person a distance away and what they look like or what they’re wearing, I always shrug and say something like ‘as long as she things she looks good’.  And that’s what matters.  That person doesn’t care what I think.  We’re probably never going to meet again.  If they walk away thinking they look good, and I walk away thinking I look good, then boom, we’re both walking away looking a feeling good.  It’s not my job to change them.  I’m doing nothing, absolutely nothing, that’s good for either of us if I judge and make negative comments.  All it does is create a growing cloud of negativity in my head and around me, that then carries over to the next situation I’m in.

This is not meant to sound preachy.  You could argue that you can judge people if you want, because you’re free to do so, and it doesn’t matter to them.  That’s totally true.  But I believe that constantly negative thinking leads to negative thinking in other situations, which leads to negative actions in areas of your life you think are unrelated to the person you judged yesterday.  And in reality, you’re not judging them, your judging yourself.  You put them down because it makes you feel better.  I look in the mirror and I see things that I’m working on.  Since my relationship ended, I’ve come a long way.  I’ve lost weight, I’ve regained confidence, I’ve changed my style… I smile at my progress, and I plan for me.  Learning to actually look at myself and change the things I want to change, has morphed my entire outlook on life.  I don’t hate my body, I see its potential.  I don’t glower at my eyebrows that has one slightly uneven to the other, I teach myself how to make it work for my face.

The woman at work with her constant cloud of negative gets frustrated with me because I won’t rag on people with her.  ‘Don’t you think she’s ugly?’.  I always shrug, say something like ‘she probably doesn’t care what I think’, and then I move on.  When a client calls in and is being a completely A**hole, I put on my cheerful voice and I help them in as polite and friendly a way as possible.  It doesn’t ruin my day the way it ruins hers.  She’ll rag on that customer for hours, and her mood will not recover.  A person I spoke to for five minutes should not affect my entire day.

So I guess that moral of this post is that negative breeds negative, and judgements should really become rare.  Not everyone is going to be able to see the positive in everything, but there are ways to just let the negative pass you by without grabbing hold of it and taking it with you.

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