Let’s Get Negative

Now I know self-help advice is supposed to focus on the positive, positive thinking and positive outcomes but, sometimes, we need to tackle the negative things in our life.

After all, life is about balance.

Call it what you will – Yin & Yang, light and dark, dualism or any of the many other term used in various philosophical and religious systems around the world. The fact is where we have positives we need to have negatives!

If you think about it if you want change if your life it is change from something, you want to turn a negative into a positive. If you remember back a few blogs, the one about motivation, we talked about “away from” motivation, which, often, is a negative we want to get away from.

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The important thing though is understanding those negatives properly. If we want to improve our lives and make truly positive change we need to know what it is we actually want to change.

We humans are particularly good at exaggerating or over stating things, to ourselves as much as to anyone else. We make sweeping generalised statements about ourselves that cannot possibly be true yet we choose to believe them.

Statements like “nobody likes me” “I’m stupid” or “my life is boring”.

To know how to move forward in life we need to recognise when we a making these generalised statements and then begin to break them down so that we can arrive nearer to the truth of how we are feeling and then we can more readily see the path we need to take to make our lives better.

Take, for example, the statement “nobody likes me” – how true would that really be? Nobody, at all, likes you? That would be a very rare thing indeed, wouldn’t it? It may be more likely you feel some people don’t like you, or perhaps, you are shy around people so you don’t interact with others which, in turn, makes them avoid you in the future.

Think about “my life is boring”. Would that be true? It would be unlikely that your life was boring every minute of every day, wouldn’t it. It may be more likely that certain aspects of your life bore you but at other times life is more enjoyable. It is just that we often ignore positives in favour of the negatives.

If we just use our generalised negatives to plan our changed future we could start ourselves of a false path, a path that takes us away from a false generalisation rather than the specific issue we really need to address. I am sure you can think of times where other people, businesses or governments have made knee jerk reactions to something negative without fully working out what went wrong only to find they have made matters worse by what they have done.

So, for example, who is it you feel doesn’t like you and why does that matter? What is it you can do to address that? Or, what particular thing are you having trouble with that makes you feel stupid? How can you tackle that particular thing in order to improve yourself with that task? What specific area of your life is boring? Is it something you can remove from your life or do you need to make other areas of your life more interesting?

To improve our lives, to make change for the better, we must introduce a positive mindset into our everyday lives yet that can only start by understanding the negatives, the reason behind the change we are setting out to achieve.

Use the negatives in your life to propel you forward, understand them and let them motivate you toward the positives.

Flex Those Motivational Muscles

What is your motivation for change?
We may dream of changing our lives but unless we have the motivation to make that change it will remain just a dream. To help us find that boost which gets us to our goal it is useful to understand what actually motivates us.
On a basic level there are two motivators, “away from” and “toward”, sometimes known as pain and pleasure or the carrot and the stick etc.


The “away from” motivation comes from our desire to leave or get rid of something. For example, we might want to lose weight to escape a negative body image, join the gym to escape health problems or join a group to escape loneliness. It is not just goal is our life that the “away from” motivator works, it is there at a basic level. We eat to get rid of hunger and we run away when we sense danger. The “away from” motivator is a part of our fight or flight response.
On the flip side the “toward” motivator takes us toward pleasure and success, again it works at a base level, those times we eat, not because we are hungry but because we are seeking the pleasure of eating something that ignites our pleasure hormones. The “toward” motivator is about adding something to our lives, making ourselves feel better, losing weight because you have an event where you want to impress, joining the gym for the buzz the feel of exercise gives you, joining a group because you want to expand you existing network etc.
Both forms of motivation are equally legitimate yet both can sometimes lack something in getting the change we want.
When the motivation to achieve something is “away from” we can have that initial push to get us going but once we a sufficiently far away from what it was we wanted to escape our momentum can falter. Think of it like using your feet to push you off in a swimming pool, the push itself will only get you so far, without any other action you will just be stuck mid-water.
With “toward” motivation we may gain momentum as we close in on our goal but it is getting started in the first place that may be the issue. Imagine you want to drive somewhere where you can really enjoy yourself, you won’t get there though until you turn the key in the ignition and spark the engine into life.
The real key is to use both methods in order to succeed, push and pull to get you where you ultimately want to be.
Start by thinking about what it is you want to change in your life and why you want to achieve that change. Is your primary motivation “away from” or “toward”?
Be honest with yourself. We can sometimes fail to recognise our true motives, hiding them behind things we prefer to believe.
Once you have figured out what it is that is motivating you move to the other end of the goal and find some motivating factor there too.
So if your initial motivation is “away from” think about what achieving you goal will gain you, what is waiting for you when you get to the finish line, what will success bring you. Say you want to join a group, evening class or such because you feel an element of loneliness in your life, you know your “away from” but what is your “toward”. Imagine the possibilities developing that new skill or knowledge will bring, the focus on the one possibility that really ignites your imagination.
If, on the other hand, your primary motivation is a “toward” one, what is it that is going to ignite that engine and get you moving. Perhaps, you want to be a great dancer, writer or something similar but what will that move you away from? If you are looking to achieve success it does, to a certain degree, mean you are feeling unsuccessful now so use that as you push forward.
Some things automatically lend themselves to having a push and a pull but others we need to dig deep to find the other end of the line that we will be travelling. By finding our “away from” and “toward” motivation we double our chances in succeeding in achieving change and success.
So flex those motivational muscles and head confidently toward your success.