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5 Ways Negativity Creeps In and How to Weed it Out

By HERWriter
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5 Ways Negativity Creeps In and How You Can Weed it Out PhotoSpin/PhotoSpin

Eat well, exercise, drink lots of water, be mindful, buy organic, get enough rest. The prescriptions for a healthy lifestyle are in every headline. But despite our best efforts, stress and negativity still manage to seep in through the cracks.

Socrates wrote, "The unexamined life is not worth living." So let's examine those nooks and crannies of life that allow less-than-healthy habits to sneak in.

1) Over-scheduling

Four kids’ soccer games every weekend, yoga three times a week, the Church fundraiser and the co-chairing of the Teacher Appreciation Lunch — while these things are inherently good in themselves, when we overcommit we enjoy each event less and put ourselves at risk of burning out.

Schedule downtime. Block out weekends on the calendar when you can give yourself permission to decline invitations and activities. Plan something quiet at home instead — popcorn and a movie, a monopoly marathon, a picnic in the backyard, a family bike ride.

2) Round-the-clock Email

Even good news — an exciting project at work, or a friend who wants to visit — sets our minds ticking with plans, ideas and expectations. The bad emails — the zingers from an angry client, or the overdraft notice from the bank — take an obvious toll.

When we check on our email first thing in the morning (think: while still lying in bed), we rob ourselves of rituals of silence, serenity and the rare uninterrupted peace that morning offers.

If we check in late at night, we increase the time it takes to wind down before bed.

Limit emails to the work day or to one hour after work, and then focus on the present moment.

3) Chronic Lateness

There is a spirituality to being on time, according to blogger Phil Fox Rose.

Rose writes in his post The Selfishness of Being Late, “If you arrive late at a movie theater or group dinner, everyone else has to absorb your frenetic energy as you come barging in — sometimes even the strangers at other seats or tables. You are making everyone else deal with your lateness, your distraction.”

How do you remedy your own tardiness? If you sleep through your alarm every day, reevaluate whether you are getting an adequate amount of rest. Allot at least seven hours— eight if you need it — and retire accordingly.

Assess how long it really takes to you to get ready and how long it really takes — worst traffic included — to get from point A to point B. Allow 10 or 15 minutes more than you usually do. Don’t run "just one more errand" before arriving.

There is a generosity of spirit in valuing others’ time as much as our own, and in telling the truth when we say, “I’ll be there.” When we are able to reach our destination at a relaxed pace, mindfulness naturally enters in.

4) The Indiscriminate Use of “Yes”

Like over-scheduling our time, overusing “Yes” — even to seemingly insignificant commitments — can put us on a treadmill of meaningless activity. The baby shower, the office party, one more lunch date, one more happy hour — people who have a difficult time saying “No” to opportunities may find themselves spread too thin.

The ability to say “No,” and use “Yes,” more selectively will help you focus on the people you truly enjoy and the activities which enrich you. Employ the phrase “Let me think about it,” at every invitation. It’s a great tool for giving yourself a little time to evaluate your priorities before agreeing to more.

5) Verbal Abuse

It’s hard to define but you know it when you hear it — the snide comment about your appearance, your intellect or your eating habits — and your heart sinks ever so slightly. Usually our most fertile sources of negative comments come from a toxic parent or relative, an issue I address frequently on my blog.

But verbal abuse also happens at work, in the form of a violent reaction to constructive criticism, or a racist or sexist comment or joke. Writer Suzette Haden Elgin addressed the issue of the violence of language by creating the textbook for handling toxic language in 1979, “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense.”

How we respond to verbal attacks determines whether the situation escalates or de-escalates. Keeping calm, thinking before speaking, and responding directly to the attack with aplomb rather than emotion, neutralizes a situation while allowing us to keep our dignity. Elgin terms it: “Ignoring the bait.”

Elgin recommends addressing the presupposition in a verbal attack. For example, the accusation, "If you REALLY loved me, YOU wouldn't waste MONEY the way you do!!” presupposes a lack of love.

The de-escalating statement is, “Of course I love you.”

Elgin’s book is an indispensable tool for addressing verbal negativity in your life.

Be discriminating with your time, your emails and your language, and be well!


The Selfishness of Being Late. patheos.com. Retrieved June 25, 2015.

Suzette Haden Elgin's Verbal Self Defense. An Overview of the GAVSD system. adrr.com. Retrieved June 25, 2015.

Main site: http://adrr.com/aa

Reviewed June 26, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.