The Power of Negativity

There will always be haters.

Recently, I received a private message on Facebook informing me that there is nothing spiritual about seeing a hawk or eagle; it is merely a bird sighting and to stop forcing my religious views about birds onto people. Another person informed me that my opinions and actions towards pigeons are unfounded and that I am cruel to these birds. While I am not opposed to constructive criticism, I do feel the need to point out a few things.

First, my blog is not about religion nor is it intended to be. Anyone that knows me personally will tell you that I am the last person they expect to see in church on Sunday. I am spiritual, but I am not religious. There is a difference.

Second, no birds have been harmed during the writing of this blog. And if I want to use pigeons as an analogy to describe poor human behavior, I am going to do so because it is my constitutional right to use Zoomorphism in writing.

While these messages had negative intentions behind them, I found them to be entertaining because it’s obvious that these comments were made by people that either didn’t read my blogs in their entirety or they have less than stellar reading comprehension. Or, like many people, they simply wanted to spread their negativity with the world and decided I was a good target to start with. I am guessing it is mainly the latter, and these messages did inspire some thoughts on the power of negativity.

How many negative messages do you think you receive in a day? I don’t have any statistic to share, I am merely asking the question because it is worth pondering. When you stop and think about it, we live in a very critical world. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do, someone is lying in wait, ready to pounce on you and spread their negativity at a moment’s notice. These people are everywhere and show up freely at unforeseen, random times.

Sometimes, it is downright crazy what people choose to be negative about. I recently ran into a couple of acquaintances at the grocery store and was surprised at the negativity that came up from a seemingly harmless subject and how quickly it killed what started out to be a fun, friendly exchange. For the purpose of this story, I am simply going to refer to the individuals involved as acquaintance one and acquaintance two.

To give you some background, these two women couldn’t be more different. Acquaintance one is a pretty, bubbly young lady that has two small children. She loves being a mom and she is very good at it. Her children are her world. Acquaintance two is an older lady that lives to watch news programs and frequently spends her time dwelling on world events and complaining about things that none of us can control or change. Thankfully, I know from some of her rants that she isn’t online or believe me, I wouldn’t mention this story here because I would never hear the end of it.

The conversation began between me and acquaintance one. We had exchanged pleasantries and I had just inquired about her two young children when acquaintance two showed up and joined the conversation. I asked acquaintance one about her daughter’s upcoming birthday. She excitedly told me that she and her husband were planning a birthday trip for their kids to Disneyland, the first trip of its kind for them. I mentioned that I had not been to Disneyland since I was in college. I jokingly stated that my favorite ride used to be “Pirates of the Caribbean” and that I wasn’t even sure if the ride existed anymore.

Without missing a beat, acquaintance two spoke up and firmly declared, “someone died on that ride! That place isn’t as safe as you think it is. I would think twice before taking a trip there.”

In my mind, I heard “wah-wah” in response to her comment. What a downer! Why bring that up and squelch the enthusiasm of acquaintance one, who was visibly excited about taking her kids to Disneyland for the first time? As fast as the mood changed, you would have thought we were in conflict about politics and someone’s wardrobe had been insulted.

I wanted to tell acquaintance two that I was hosting a parade next week and ask if she could show up and rain on it, but I held my tongue.  Some people have no sense of humor, and she’s one of them. I wasn’t in the mood for a debate with her, and I know her well enough to know that any sarcasm or humor would have started just that. And like the adage goes, “if you have nothing nice to say…”

Sadly, the conversation was awkward after that and ended sooner than it needed to. I felt bad for acquaintance one. All enthusiasm for her upcoming trip was destroyed in that moment, and I could sense the conversation upset her.

As I was driving home from the store, I couldn’t help but think about the conversation and the power of negativity. How does a conversation about Disneyland become negative? Is it necessary to be negative? Why are some people negative for the sake of being negative?

When you stop to think about it, negativity is truly toxic. How many times has the negative perspective of someone else ruined your enthusiasm for something? How many times has a negative person ruined a social event for yourself and others? On the flip side, how many times have you gone into something with a negative perception and the event seemed to drag on and on?  

Negative thinking is an easy mind set to fall into, and we have all been guilty of it at one time or another. Everyone has a bad day, after all. But perpetual negative thinking creates a space in our mind that allows depression, anger, sadness, and anxiety to nest, grow, and take over, much like pigeons in a barn. Negativity is very destructive.

It may be hard to stop negativity in your mind, but it can be done. Instead of being the person that brings “wah-wah” to the conversation, bring a ray of humor or sunshine instead. In the end, negativity is like a pigeon that has performed an air raid and pooped all over the barn, saddles and all – it is unpleasant and not enjoyed by others. Please keep your negativity to yourself.

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