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3 Shocking Benefits of Negative Thinking

3 Shocking Benefits of Negative Thinking

Most of our actions in life have trade-offs. If we eat that piece of cake, we might see it later around our waistline. If we work overtime, we’ll see a positive outcome on our bank statement but miss time at home with loved ones.

Life is full of trade-offs.

Which made me wonder: is there always this trade-off? And is it possible to have too much positive thinking in our lives? Is it possible that personal development’s panacea that ails us can actually have a toxic effect if used in excess. After all, it’s said that it’s the dose that makes the poison.

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Looking more closely, I realized that too much positivity can be a dangerous thing. Take people who suffer from mania and believe they’re kings of the world, that they can fly, or possess super powers. Individuals experiencing such overwhelming positivity often become a danger to themselves as they are incapable of assessing risk.

This led me to an interesting conclusion: if we can have too much positivity, then on the flip side, there must be advantages to negative thinking. In other words: There must be some situations in which negative thinking helps us reach a positive outcome. It’s productive. It’s beneficial. Here are 3 ways I’ve discovered it to be true.

1. We Are Limited

We are often told, starting from a very young age, that we can become whatever we want — that we can do and have whatever it is our hearts desire. This, combined with nearly limitless options can leave even the most successful individuals feeling like they haven’t accomplished enough. By acknowledging or setting limitations on ourselves, we eliminate the vast majority of options that are only serving to steal our energy and attention.

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For instance, it is a waste of time and energy for me to dream about becoming a professional basketball player. I’m 25, 5’11, with no experience outside of the occasional pickup game, and I don’t particularly enjoy the sport. This option is not a good match for my skills or interests. In life, most of our options aren’t good matches for our skills or interests, for our unique personalities and passions.

While we often assume that having more choices is good, what we truly want are a few good options, not a limitless number of uncertain ones. By defining what we cannot or will not do, we enable ourselves to focus on the few options that will be meaningful to us.

2. Lowering Our Expectations

Another problem with being conditioned to believe that we can be, do and have anything we want is that this thinking inflates our expectations to unrealistic levels and often endows us with a sense of entitlement. To complicate matters, we often hinge our happiness on these external events – whether or not the world conforms to our expectations. But the universe doesn’t owe us anything, and unrealistically high expectations are rarely met.

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This is a sure path towards disappointment. It’s more effective to lower our expectations – if not eliminate them completely. If we’re not basing our happiness on whether or not our expectations are met, then we’ve eliminated one of our biggest sources of unhappiness and given ourselves the opportunity to be content where we are right now.

It’s one thing to aspire to do, or be, or have great things. It’s healthy to dream big and aim high. If we can do so without expecting anything, then we’ll be able to enjoy the journey, as well as whatever results may or may not come.

3. Accurate Risk Assessment

Remember our manic friends? Thinking that they can fly is not the only hazard of being overly optimistic. Incurably positive thinking affects all types of risk assessment. Taking calculated risks is one of the best ways to grow as individuals and to make breakthroughs in our lives. Taking risks because we don’t realize there are risks is simply dangerous. Take, for instance, engaging in unprotected sex, playing the stock market, and casino gambling.

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While it’s impossible to say with certainty that our attitude has no influence over the outcomes in these scenarios, it would be foolish to make positive thoughts to our success strategies. And this should apply to all areas of our lives: having a realistic understanding of the situations we find ourselves in is the most important thing. Then, we can be sure that our positive thinking isn’t fantasy, and it can be used to give us direction and inspiration. Otherwise we may eventually find ourselves flying without a net – and that’s not a recipe for happiness.

Conclusion

These thoughts that, at first glance, seem to be negative, really aren’t once we take the time to internalize them. They’re about realism. Realism isn’t positive or negative, and by having an accurate picture of reality we can make better life decisions.

And in that sense these negative thoughts are most certainly positive.

For more interesting insights into human experience check out these 

Featured photo credit: http://www.morguefile.com/creative/hotblack via cdn.morguefile.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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