Negativity – we all hear about it, but I don’t believe that many of us really understand what it truly means or what it can do to our lives. My name is Leo Frincu, and I am considered a “transformational coach.” Working in the fitness industry with clients for over twenty years has taught me a great deal about the human condition. With this article, I hope to expose what I consider to be our number one enemy and how to successfully confront it. Properly understanding negativity can help anyone elevate his life to the next level. With that goal in mind, I have designed some effective tools to help turn negativity into positivity.
First of all, what is negativity?
Negativity comes from the Latin word “Nega,” which means to “deny” something. In this case, negativity means that we are denying something about ourselves.
Secondly, where is our own personal negativity coming from? Negativity originates from a place within us of pain and fear and is simply a resulting consequence of that pain and fear. On the other hand, positivity originates from a place of love and hope. Both optimism and pessimism are the direct results of emotions buried within us. The question, then, becomes: what has caused those feelings within us.
Pain and fear come from emotional trauma that we have experienced during our lifetime – the more traumatic the event, the more pain the memory of it will cause and, therefore, the more fearful and negative we become. As we grow up, our prefrontal cortex begins to develop. As we get older, we gradually become pragmatic and learn to rationalize our past traumatic events in order that they will become less painful. Without even knowing it, we slowly begin to cope with our stored pain by developing a negative mentality and a self-critical behavior pattern in our attempt to prevent being hurt again. We subconsciously hope to escape from feeling the pain that, ironically, we are already living with. Because we are unaware that the hidden pain caused by previous trauma exists, our negativity becomes a defense mechanism subconsciously designed to protect us.
Since we’ve always carried the burden of the stored pain within us, we will always look for an opportunity to release some of it. Therefore, we develop behavior that will enable us to do just that. Here are some examples:
– Overly sensitive, or easily offended;
– Mood swings;
– Overly shy, or extremely cautious;
– Extremely introverted;
– Various disorders that come as a result of our poor self-image.
As the cycle of negative behavior continues, we will – sometimes proudly, and sometimes not so proudly – call these behaviors “our personality.” Whether helpful or not, sadly, we adopt these behaviors as part of our identity.
In actuality, however, behavior patterns are something we can fix, or at least improve upon if they do not help us to achieve our goals and dreams. Your stored pain will act like a hungry, barking dog locked in the basement, always looking for an opportunity to escape. And, you will always be working on keeping that nagging dog locked in and quiet. In other words, you will build your life around managing your inner pain – either working on ignoring it or working to avoid it.
Some people believe that being self-critical is helping motivate them to move forward throughout difficult times; however, in the long run, it can have the opposite effect. Being too self-critical can, and often does, put us behind the starting line. I truly believe that negativity is just a shield we have built in order to protect ourselves from the outside world in our continued effort to remain safe and pain-free. How defeating and counterproductive that is! You are basically locking yourself in the same prison cell with your fellow inmate, pain. Another way I see it is that negativity is our subconscious, desperate cry for help. We need help, and this is our way of asking for it.
Below are some examples of the negative statements I constantly hear from my clients when they first come in for an evaluation. My translation is in parenthesis. This is how they give voice to their inner pain:
– I’m so out of shape (I need to catch my breath / I’m so disappointed about failing to meet my own unrealistic expectations);
– I’m so weak (help me feel strong / I’m so sad because I can’t lift this unrealistically heavy-weight);
– I’m so lazy (help me feel productive / I don’t really believe I deserve what I want);
– I’m so clumsy (I feel inadequate);
– I’m so uncoordinated (I need help feeling coordinated / I’m so mad because I can’t do what that pro athlete did on that YouTube video);
– I’m not good enough (I need help feeling better about myself);
– I’m not that smart (I have difficulties solving my own problems / I don’t want to have any problems);
– I’m not balanced (I need help balancing my life / I want a different life);
– I’m so fat (I desperately need to love my body / I want to have her/his body);
– I hate my arms/thighs/stomach/body (I want to love my arms/stomach/etc.);
– I’m too short (I’m disappointed and in pain because someone taller rejected me).
Do you think these people share these statements as feedback to help me help them? Not at all. They just take the opportunity of meeting with me to remind themselves about their manufactured and crippling, self-imposed limitations. These are their excuses for failing to meet their own expectations and an effort to educate the outside world about who they are not, and what they cannot do.
Since negativity is a state of mind and a script you keep playing to yourself, over time, it becomes your belief system. After hearing these lies over and over again, they slowly became your TRUTH. And, what are you going to do with the truth? You are going to protect it and defend it at any cost. You will become the best lawyer in defense of your unrealistic limitations. Therefore, since you believe you are fat, out of shape, clumsy, and not good enough, just to give you a few examples, you subconsciously are going to do everything possible to be right. You will do everything you can to make sure you stay fat, clumsy, out of shape and not good enough.
Now, please don’t start trying to convince me, and yourself, that you are out of shape, fat or unattractive. You might not be in the shape you want to be; however, you are in some shape. You have some strength, coordination, balance, self-esteem, self-worth, and a lot of other qualities. I totally understand that you might not be where you want to be. But, please, don’t take this opportunity to remind yourself of what you are not. Stop putting yourself down again. You are always going to have high expectations for yourself. As you improve yourself, these expectations will also rise along with your strengths, status, bank account, confidence, self-esteem or self-worth. Please be aware that there’s always going to be a gap between where you are and where you want to be. That’s how we improve ourselves.
You are now probably asking, how am I going to get rid of this negativity? There are 3 steps you need to follow.
First, VULNERABILITY. Vulnerability is the passageway to your deepest fears and the key to your soul. Be vulnerable. Despite your fears, take another chance and open yourself up to the world and other people. Acknowledge the pain you are already living with. In order to communicate how you feel, you need to first acknowledge to yourself how you feel. In order to show your true self to the world, you, yourself, must expose and see your true self. Ask yourself these questions, even if you might not like what you hear, or how you feel:
What do I think is wrong with me?
What do I believe are my faults?
What do I call “mistakes?”
Up until now, most likely all the answers to these questions are just lies you’ve been telling yourself for years. Drop them. The road to alleviating your pain and beginning the process of healing lies in finding these answers. Nobody’s born negative. Every negative thought you have has been put into your head by someone else. That’s not the true you. Everyone is born perfectly imperfect. There’s something special about you. You just need to get familiar with your positive qualities and strengths.
As you become familiar with your pain, you begin to let go of it. Now, you are growing. Don’t try to rationalize the traumatic events that happened to you in the past by becoming the reason for why they happened. It doesn’t matter whether you were responsible, or not. Just acknowledge them and how they made you feel, and then let them go.
Second, I WANT YOU TO FAIL. Fail miserably at doing something you love. Failing isn’t that bad as long as you don’t blame yourself for it. Just get up and do it again. Negative thoughts come from covering up your pain, or from trying to protect yourself from getting hurt again. Stop doing it. The more you accept failing, the less it’s going to hurt. I have failed miserably throughout my life and I have no doubt I’ll fail again. But, you’re never going to hear from me about the times I failed nor how much it hurt me. You’re only going to hear about the times I’ve succeeded and how happy I was. No one is interested in my pain, or what went wrong. People are usually only interested in our success stories and how we got there.
Third, BE BRAVE. Do something with the fear you already are experiencing. Gain from it. You can’t be brave if you are not afraid. Everyone wants to be brave, but no one likes to be afraid. I’m not asking you to like it. I’m just asking you to use it to your advantage. Look pain in the eyes. Only then, the pain will subside and, not only will you begin to heal from it, but also to gain from it. Stop saying negative things about yourself, even if you believe them. These statements are not true, even if you feel like they are. Just stop saying them. You might think them but stop saying them out loud. Stop giving negativity a voice. Every time you have a negative thought, say something positive. Say it loud so YOU can hear it.
To summarize in one sentence, Negativity is a disease. The only medicine that will help you heal from it is Vulnerability and Courage. By opening yourself to the world, you’ll turn negativity into positivity and pessimism into optimism.
Good luck and God bless.
Leo Frincu is a world wrestling champion, author, speaker and performance coach for business leaders and athletes worldwide. To learn more about his training philosophy, check out his latest book, “WELCOME HOME, 3 Simple Steps On How To Reach Your Highest Potential,” available on Amazon and iBooks.