It’s a strange fact of life: it takes a large amount of positivity (positive thoughts, company of positive people, positive writing etc.) to impact us enough to cause a decisive shift in our mindsets (or in our lifestyles or actions in general). But it takes ridiculously small doses of negative influence to push us into the realm of self-doubt, self-deprecation and sometimes even despair.
That’s how potent the influence of negativity is. And most of us, unless we actively make efforts to gear our thoughts and actions towards positivity, are bound to ‘drive our lives under influence’… of negativity. Human beings just tend to function that way.
Negative influence halts progress
Often, more than our own timidity and insecurities, it is the negative people around us (and there are always some around us) who contribute the most in throwing buckets of water on our zeal for self-growth and pursuit of our aims. And they can range from some random stranger you might meet at a cafe or supermarket (yes, some people are capable of packing large quantities of negativity into a very short conversation, leaving you feeling very put off and diffident about yourself) to your colleague from work, your ‘friends’, your relatives or (worst of all) someone from your own family.
If you succumb to their influence, you’ll start thinking that you as YOU are never enough; you’ll find yourself stuck in a limbo, unable to take a single step forward no matter how much you yearn for self-betterment, because every time you try to make some positive changes in your lifestyle or your attitude, their voices resound in your ears making you freeze in fear and take a step back.
When negative people stand in the way of self-acceptance
You are who you are, with all that mixture of strengths and weaknesses, merits and deficiencies and with your own set of quirks and idiosyncrasies.
There might be some personal traits that need to be worked on, some attitudes that might need fixing, some positive habits that need cultivating. There can be professional goals you are yet to achieve, some skill you aim to acquire, some degree you plan to study for, some certifications that you need in order to improve you resume. You might feel you are not working as hard for professional success as you should and are far behind your friends in the career race. You might feel you don’t give as much time or affection to your family as you should. Or you don’t have your own family yet when you ‘should’, whereas this friend or that cousin have been filling your newsfeed with those saccharine ‘blessed to have you in my life‘s with unnecessary number of hearts for quite some time now.
So, you know you have all these ‘inadequacies’ and much more… who doesn’t? Should you fold over yourself with shame and let the negative people mess with your head when they tell you that you are a fool to want to accept yourself, or that there is little in you that’s ‘acceptable’ or loveable?
No. Tell yourself:
- As long as you are aware of what should be improved upon and are working on it, no matter your pace, you should firmly barricade your mind against any voice that tells you, ‘what difference have your efforts made so far?’, ‘little has changed’, ‘nothing’s going to change’, ‘this is not enough’ etc.
- Remember, negative people thrive when their negativity infects and proliferates; they are essentially people who are not happy about themselves, and have their own complexes, so ‘misery loves company’ is the solution they come up with to make themselves feel a little better about themselves, even if only temporarily.
- Your journey is unique, and so is everyone else’s. Same is true for your struggles. You come with your own baggage: your upbringing, family background, relationships within the household, socioeconomic stratum you were born into, culture and values that were instilled in you, the kind of education you received among many other factors. They might have facilitated or impeded your self growth. They might have been a boon or a bane for your confidence building. But the point is, they conditioned you a certain way. So if you have tried to fight your conditioning to better yourself in some way, your struggle is worthy of being lauded and valued… most of all, by you. Don’t let any negative person convince you that you haven’t achieved any tangible success in life.
When negative people question your potential
I believe most of us would have experienced this more than once in our lives. ‘Do you have what it takes to do this?’ ‘It’s too late for you now to do that.’ ‘What you’ve achieved so far doesn’t count for anything. ‘It’s really hard to make it big in this line of profession.’ And so on.
Cultivating confidence in your abilities is real hard work. Doubting yourself is just as easy. With a few such insensitive statements casually thrown your way, negative people make that even easier.
It’s a pity that, more often than not, people challenging your self-acceptance and doubting your potential and abilities are the ones you are closest to. Unsurprisingly, this discouragement ends up crushing your spirit more thoroughly than any physical difficulties you face in following your chosen path do.
- There is no way to break through this potent negativity other than to force yourself to consciously believe, ‘I am a fine human being. There is something I am good at doing. With persistent efforts, I can become great at that. No matter how long it takes, perseverance always pays off.’ Tell this to yourself, repeatedly, even if you don’t believe it at first. You’ll start believing it and gaining strength from it soon.
- One countermeasure against the ‘mind-messing’ abilities of negative people that’s a MUST, is seeking the company of positive people. Put effort into finding those people around you. Even if it’s just one person. Or two. Quality of the company is what matters here. You can strengthen your confidence and grow your connections from there on.
- Everywhere you can find stories of various people who overcame odds much worse than what you are facing. While everyone’s story is unique and no one should be allowed to belittle your struggle (least of all yourself), knowing that there are people who went through hell and survived and grew can be a source of both assurance and inspiration. Don’t be frugal in borrowing the strength of the strong.
There are many other aspects to eliminating negative influence from your life, and accepting and ‘constructing’ positivity. Negativity comes in different shapes and can often be found in the most surprising places. Same is true for positive influence. Important thing is, one shouldn’t shy away from seeking help in developing positive attitude and outlook, for this is not something a person can accomplish in isolated space; however, recognising the need for it and gathering courage to invite positivity in your life is something no one can can help you with. This is the first step that you have to take yourself.