Monday, January 26, 2009

Negativity Gets a Bad Rap

Yesterday during my long run I got to thinking...amidst the usual jumble of random thoughts, an idea started to emerge. About negativity.

How many times have I read or watched or heard stories of people who were told they couldn't do something? And these people all said in one way or another, "When someone tells me I can't do something, it makes me want to do it all the more." I've had this experience myself -- many times.

Following this train of thought, I thought about why our culture is so focused on the positive side, the bright side, the right side. Negativity is supposed to be bad and wrong and hurtful. But, like yin and yang, one cannot exist without the other. I got a feeling that the intermingling of positivity and negativity runs much deeper than this though. Truth.

My rambling mind continued...

So, it's a good thing to surround yourself with people who believe in you and support you, but there is a place for the negative ones too. I wonder just how much fuel the so-called negative forces in my life have provided me. Even when I have felt bad or down, it's often the negative feelings that have given me the impetus to grit my teeth and HTFU. I guess the trick is to convert that negative energy to fuel instead of allowing it to weigh you down?

There is a line in one of the two Ironman movies I watch all the time - something about "Sport is at its best when it is transcendent." That's how I feel! When I bliss out during a workout, there's a feeling of rising above all delineations of right and wrong. There is a feeling of being more than who I am -- more than who I THINK I am. A feeling of liberation, yet at the same time a feeling of being in sync with the universe.

Of course it helped that yesterday I wore a high-waisted pair of thermals so my belly wouldn't get cold like it did on Friday...I was fine until about 45 minutes in, when my pants started sliding down and although my various shirts covered my belly, I needed that extra layer of pants to protect against the cold. :) :) :) :) I'm running my butt off!! Hahahahahahaha!!!!


Susi said...

you bring up a good point that negativity can have a place if it motivates you to challenge yourself. unfortunatley though i think a lot of people believe that negativity and let it weigh them down instead. i have firsthand knowledge of that until i turned things around as you described.

plus, i just couldn't imagine telling someone they couldn't achieve what they set their mind to! :) so i'll have to leave the negative motivation style to others, haha.

John Prince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith said...

There is much new age bullshit about negativity and the power of positive thinking. I'm a big fan of reality thinking. Yes, there is a place for being positive about things, and that as a general rule, you should view the glass as half full rather than half empty.

But I say, strip away the positive or negative emotion from the facts. When I decided to do a half IM, I was a lot overweight, hadn't run for 30 years, and had never ridden 90 K at once. Those were facts. Now, I could have got down on myself about it, and talked myself out of the goal. Or I could have just carried on all light headed and high on incense that when the time came my positive mental attitude would carry me through. Both attitudes will lead to catastrophic failure.

Figure out what the relevant facts are about you and your goals. Decide what to do about them. If necessary, get help. Then put on your big girl pants, suck it up princess, HTFU, be a man, and do it. One step at a time, an hour at a time, and if necessary, a minute at a time. No whining, no complaining. Enjoy your successes, learn from defeat, and make sure it's only a temporary defeat. But do it.

Yoda had it right, you know. "There is no try. Either do, or do not." They could have saved themselves a lot of trouble if he'd made Luke get the fighter out of the swamp himself.

streaker said...

Yah Keith! Sometime no matter how positive you can think life just throws crappy stuff at you. No matter how good a person you are, no matter how many times you think about the lesson in this sometimes life just generally sucks. Positive thinking wasn't going to sell my house or pay for school. I had to come up with an alternative solution.

I believe that a lot of good can come from being stuck in the mud. It's warm and can help you think things through.

Personally not wanting to suck is a big motivation for me. I still feel like that girl with glass in gr 7 that they hucked dodge balls at. I am always fighting with that version of myself. Not a positive view of myself but pushes me out the door.

Julie said...

Keith, as usual you provide a sage analysis. :) :)

Kelsey -- When I was in grade 7, I WANTED the guys to huck the ball at me, because that meant they liked you. Unfortunately, because I had no boobs or hips until I turned 22, there were no ball-bruises for me! LOL!!!

Susi -- No kidding eh? :) :)

Amy said...

Another great post, Julie!!!!!!!

Kelly B. said...

Well...after reading the post and all the comments, I am leaning towards agreeing with Keith! My dad always used to say, if you are pointing your finger at someone/something, take a sec and look at how many fingers are pointing back at you!
Sometimes you just have to change your own thoughts. (and if you have been to my post today, I am struggling with my own advice...) If someone says or does something you think is negative, there is a reason. Usually its because they are jealous. That's their issue, not mine. But sometimes it is also fun to use that negative energy as fuel!!
Hey...whatever works to get us to our goals!!!