Have you ever wondered why some people are more negative than others? Just think about it. Two people may go through very similar circumstances, yet one person may be much more negative than the other. Why?
Yes, predisposition plays a big part in the negative/positive mindset equation, but there is something else that plays a HUGE role. There’s something else that leads to a more negative outlook on almost everything.
That one thing is FEAR!
The fear of failure, the fear of disappointment, and the fear of abandonment are often at the root of chronic negativity.
Fear of Failure: We are often so worried that we will fail, that we don’t try. To protect ourselves from failing, we convince ourselves that whatever it is can’t be done. And if it can’t be done, why try? On the outside it appears that we are a cranky old pessimist, but on the inside we are petrified. Our negativity is our coat of arms.
Fear of Disappointment: We don’t want to set ourselves up for a big letdown. We figure that it is better to have low expectations and be surprised by the outcome once in a while than to be disappointed. Again, our negative mindset becomes our protection. If we don’t expect things to turn out, we will never have to face disappointment. (so we think)
Fear of Abandonment: Whether we realize it or not, some need within us did not get met in childhood. Maybe we did not get the attention or nurturing that we needed at the time. An injured part of us is still trying to get that need met. We are looking for attention, nurturing, validation, and love. We think we want to be happy, but a part of us thinks that if we are happy others will not come to our rescue and fill that unmet need. On a deep level, we think that happiness will lead to abandonment. In other words, “If I am happy, no one will try to help me. No one will come to my rescue. No one will give me the attention I desperately need.” Most of this is unconscious, however. People who tend to be extremely negative usually haven’t connected the dots. They are not aware that their negativity is rooted in unmet needs.
The Good News!
Even the most negative people can change. By recognizing the fears that hide behind negativity, a person can begin to challenge those fears and adopt a new perspective leading to positive change. Take a look.
The Fear of Failure: Once this fear is identified it can be challenged. The paradigm shift comes when we can acknowledge that we will always fail if we don’t try. Actually we feel more like a failure because we don’t try, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. We need to realize that each failure brings us one step closer to our goal. By removing the words “I can’t” from our vocabulary, we open the door to endless possibilities.
The Fear of Disappointment: Being aware that we are already disappointing ourselves every time we view something with a “cup half empty” mindset, we are better able to drop our protection and begin to look at things in new ways. Yes, we may be disappointed from time to time if we approach our situations optimistically. But if we reframe things in our minds and adopt a more positive outlook, we will work harder to make things happen and actually find ourselves a whole lot less disappointed with life.
The Fear of Abandonment: Identifying this fear can create a life changing ah-ha moment. What we really want is love and attention, but we have been going about it the wrong way. We are actually pushing people away with our negativity. We are doing exactly what we DON’T want to do. By practicing gratitude and looking at the good in life, we draw people towards us. They feel our bright light and want to get closer. Once we recognize where our fear originated, we are more likely to challenge it, face it, and make some changes in our lives. Our fear of abandonment may be so strong that we use our negativity to push people away. We would rather push them away than have them get close and then abandon us. Again, we have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Our negativity has created our own abandonment, the very thing we fear.
This post was written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, MEd, MSW, LCSW, author of The Snowball Effect: How to Build Positive Momentum in Your Life.