You Think THAT’s Bad?
How to De-escalate External Negativity In a Negative World
OK friends, truth time.
You are chatting with your best friend and ask her to meet up for dinner.
She says "No way can I go to dinner. Everything is falling apart! I have a hair appointment, the car’s in the shop, I have to take my mother to the doctor, Johnny has two games…"
Let’s be real. The thought that flies through your head probably is something like:
"Hmmph, (eye roll) I WISH I had the time for a hair appointment."
You aren’t alone.
It’s natural and in small doses, (especially if you keep it to yourself) it’s pretty harmless.
Small doses of this type of conversation are rare. Actually, in many social circles, they are the norm. In some cases, they dig out other people’s stories so they can keep the one-up-man-ship going.
"Oooh that’s awful," she tells her pal. "But you think that’s bad? Mary’s boss…."
Which is followed by:
"Oh my GOD…horrible! But did you hear about….?!"
And here, is where it’s not so harmless. In fact, it’s the most insidious kind of harmful - the kind that feels good.
Similar to schadenfreude, the German term for laughing at the misfortunes of others (America’s Funniest Videos anyone?), this escalation of horror always makes us feel more connected and a bit better about ourselves.
Which would be fine if that’s all it did.
Unfortunately, with enough repetition, these kinds of conversations infect your mindset.
They make you feel increasingly burdened by external events, at the mercy of every circumstance, and worst of all – you come see the world as a place where that’s the norm.
You’re actually feeding your brain’s negativity bias and losing your ability to see choice, personal power, and opportunity along the way.
In short, you’re creating a body of evidence to compete with every hopeful thought you have.
And who needs that?!
3.5 Steps to De-escalate External Negativity
NOTICE: As with all things, awareness comes first. Step back and pay attention to how often these sorts of conversations come up in your day. How often are you playing a part in moving them forward?
FORGIVE: No need to judge yourself or anyone else here. Maybe try a little Ho'oponopono, a Hawaiian practice that helps us to release and move on. When you notice yourself being drawn in, simply think to yourself:
• I’m sorry
• I forgive you
• Thank you
• I love you
This may seem or feel a bit silly to some, but I promise you, it works wonders.
SHIFT: Try to shift the energy by telling an uplifting story that you heard or in a worst case scenario, pulling out of the conversation.
3.5. Go ahead and enjoy a little schadenfreude, it’s completely natural!