The Sunday News
Negativity disguised as small talk
I was in a queue waiting to pay a service provider when the man behind me started complaining about how the queue was not moving and a lot others joined in. The conversation escalated to how almost all services in the country are done slowly and even the services that they provide are poor. After much listening I then shifted to another queue which was shorter and in a short while I walked out of the building with a smile on my face.
After greetings, even when people don’t know each other you would hear them complaining about the weather, the funny thing is that whether it’s cold or hot, they will be mourning. Then it comes discussions about how things are expensive and how there is no money. Even when someone does has the money they would, habitually talk of how they are broke. Parting shots of a conversation are characterised by words like kunzima, the colloquial ma1 or my clan’s favourite kolema kusakasengwa. Why are we so negative? Why are we so comfortable with negativity?
How does one get to have a negative attitude?
While negativity is a normal part of temperament, according to science, some people who are pessimists learnt the attitude in their upbringing and others become negative after many disappointments in life. For others it may go all the way to depression stage as the person thinks their life is so unpleasant that there is no way out.
Signs of a negative attitude
Being suspicious of others
If you feel that people are always out to get you, you may have a negative attitude. One might experience such suspicions with one or two people but if it’s with almost everyone, then there is definitely something wrong with you. Normally mankind likes to assist each other. Yes, we do have swindlers and cheats but if you see yourself as a potential victim a lot of times you may need to check your attitude.
Expecting negative outcomes
Whether one is sitting for exams, going for medical checks or partaking in a community programme the person will expect the worst and will not mince their words when voicing their concerns. We have such people in our communities, whereby when you are discussing a good project their question is “What’s the catch?” They always expect that there is a hidden agenda behind everything.
I actually have a friend who not only questions everything but has to be dragged kicking and screaming to take part in programmes and activities that will benefit him. He always finds gory stories about how everything could go wrong even in the simplest, straight-forward arrangement.
Blaming others, environment and anything
For the pessimist something or someone contributed to their problems. Such people never own up to their mistakes. They never run out of things to blame for doing something or not doing something.
The good news, however, is that everything that one has learnt can also be unlearnt if one is determined. Just as it took time to be the way they are, it will take practice and a change of habits to drop the negative attitude.
Here are some ways one can change their negative attitude:
Examine the way you view the world
Is the world really an unkind place to live in? If it is, why are some people enjoying their lives yet you are living in the same environment? Yes, bad things happen to good people but is that enough for you to certify the world a bad place? You do have your moments of peace and happiness, would you have those times if it’s really a gloomy place. Maybe you have painted the world with dark colours and are way off the mark, don’t you think? Or maybe you are overwhelmed by the darkness in you to see the light in the world. Rethink your worldview. You might be looking at things from a dark place.
Always expect the best
The reality is that some situations are not pleasant and we may be afraid of the outcome. Other times we may be armed with information of something bad that happened to so-and-so before hence your suspicions. But will we be living fully if we are always living in fear and suspicious of everything? Try and expect the best always.
Have faith in others
Learn to trust others, or at least give them the benefit of the doubt before you rule out that everyone is out to get you. Wait, isn’t that unrealistic? Why would everyone gang up against you and want to cheat you? The least you can do is not to judge others before they disappoint you. Wouldn’t you want someone to have trust in you before they decide that you are up to no good?
Improve your attitude and outlook
The only person who can work on you is you so get out from behind your negative attitude and live life in a more positive, exciting way. Nomatter what you have gone through in the past or who did what to you, you still have your whole life ahead of you so focus on changing the narrative. Admit that you need help and summon support from those who care about you and begin to enjoy your life.
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