I am writing about negativity today because I was inspired by my dear friend Suyin Nichols’ concept of a “Negativity Fast.” You can read that brilliant post here.
In this post she wrote about going on a fast from negative TV, news, and people. Then she explains the clarity she felt and how much stronger her intuition got just from eliminating all this extra “noise.”
I read it, liked it, thought about the shows I watch on TV, decided I like my drama on TV and not in my life, so I would keep what I watch but notice what I say and what I choose to listen to.
As I was pondering this, I happened upon an old article (from waaaay back in 2012!) by the brilliant Harville Hendricks, one of the great marriage mentors of our time.
He wrote an article for the Huffington Post suggesting that relationships should be a “Zero Negativity Zone.”
Mr. Hendrix, whom we shall lovingly call, Harville, basically says that any act of criticism is an act of violence.
While Suyin’s post inspired me, Harville’s post shook me.
They both agree – negativity is bad for us, bad for marriages, bad for business and just plain old bad all around. Stocks prices go down when investors fear just about anything. (As a kid watching the news I wondered who the investors were. As an adult with a 401k I figured out “they” are actually “us.”)
Yet we are constantly bombarded with bad news, negative media <the Un-Real Housewives of any city go here>, and limiting thoughts and beliefs we carry over into our heads from the people around us, at work, at the gym, or on TV.
As a Life Coach (and a person filled with enthusiasm for life and love) I believe we have power over our surroundings and we can DECIDE just how much of anything, including negativity we are going to let into our lives and minds.
Which brings me back to Harville.
He says that words that criticize cause anxiety and that this same anxiety makes our bodies go into an automatic reaction whenever perceived danger is present: “fight or flight.”
His theory (which we could test a thousand times and I bet we would make it a scientific fact) is that couples who want a healthy, happy relationship should commit to absolutely NO negative talk of any kind. Absolutamente nada negativo. Nunca <-aka Never.
That doesn’t mean we don’t bring up situations that need to be addressed, it just means we take an approach of making requests and not complaints and with the mindset of being gentle and loving and kind throughout the whole process.
I thought a lot about what Harville said and realized that The Hubs and I have done so much inner work that we do this naturally most of the time. I had no idea however, how valuable and important this approach is and how critical it is to long term marriage success. Success meaning not just being married but being happily so.
What Suyin challenged me to do in her post was to look at all the channels of information feeding into the river of my mind and determine – are they inspiring and empowering or are they fueling negativity, self doubt and criticism.
She also reminded me that when I get quiet and listen more deeply to my own voice instead of everyone else’s I can hear my intuition more loudly and clearly than ever before.
My invitation this week is to take a look at what messages are coming in and what messages you are sending out – and eliminate negativity wherever possible.
As always, I recommend starting small – remove one talk show from your DVR list, or watch the news one less night per week. When you are talking with friends and the conversation goes in a direction that isn’t constructive, gently change the topic or take that moment to go get a glass of tea.
Have you noticed the effects of removing negativity from your life? Is there something you want to remove but aren’t sure how to? Can you make the same request from your spouse in a different way this week? Please share in the comments.