Are there any “negative Nancy’s” in your life? You know, that person that complains about the wind being too windy or the traffic being too trafficky or the atrocious Starbuck’s order with 10 pumps of this and 2 squirts of that not tasting right.
Maybe it’s your boss, maybe it’s your aunt that you only see on Thanksgiving…or maybe it’s you.
Yeah, I just called you out.
Maybe you are the negative Nancy of your own life (or Norman, Nelly, Nick, whatever alliteration alias you want to fill in the blank). Looking at the glass half empty, complaining about things just to have something to complain about; maybe you don’t even realize you’re doing it.
Language is the method of human communication consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way. Speaking in a conventional way means to speak based in accordance with what you generally believe.
Therefore, language reflects your beliefs, and let’s be honest—your beliefs are (often) negative.
If you’re reading this thinking, “that’s not me, I’m a positive thinker”, you’re wrong (and probably offended). We all have subconscious beliefs that are negative, and sometimes these beliefs just come out like word vomit.
Example: “I can’t believe it’s raining on the day that I planned to go to the beach! The rain sucks, Mother Nature sucks, I’m just going to hide under a blanket and consume Tik Tok videos all day.”
Example: “I’m so annoyed I have to go to work today, and sit in traffic to get there, and use the measly amount of money I make to pay my electricity and Forever 21 credit card bills.”
Example: “Wow this zit right between my eyes is great, nice of it to show up on my birthday. Now my face is ruined, everyone will be talking to my pimple instead of me, I should just wear a ski mask to my party.”
Okay, maybe that’s just my negative Nancy talking, but I’m sure you’ve muttered something similar.
The good news is, you don’t have to be a nay-sayer forever. All you need is a little awareness of your subconscious beliefs and some actionable steps to turn your frown upside down.
Awareness is the first step to making change. It lives in our conscious thoughts. It’s what allows us to see areas of improvement that we need to work on instead of just believing that everything in our life (including ourselves) is perfect.
The opposite of awareness is ignorance. It lives in our subconscious thoughts. It’s the default mode of our brain that causes us to nit-pick everything and play the “woah is me” victim mode.
Subconscious thoughts pretty much control our lives. They’re the instant reactions we have to our circumstances that just come up naturally. They are shaped by our relationships and society and dramatic media sources and news updates that ping to our email every hour. They’re always available and they’re easy to resort to.
Conscious thoughts are the other side of that same coin. They’re the thoughts we choose to have when we don’t feel like slumping around in mediocracy anymore. Often times, they are awakened by a conversation with someone else, information from a book or podcast, or that “wake up call” that just comes to us from a source higher than us (whichever higher power you personally believe in).
Awareness takes effort. Conscious thoughts take effort. Finding the positive in a seemingly negative situation takes effort.
Effort ain’t easy, but it’s doable by each and every one of us.
Picture yourself grabbing a glass from your cupboard (or quickly clean one from your over piled sink of dishes). Now fill it with your favorite drink (yes, White Claws are acceptable). Now stare at that glass—is it half full, or half empty?
If you said half full, we will consider you an optimist.
If you said half empty (or if you’re changing your answer now), we will consider you a pessimist.
Two people can be looking at the same glass and seeing two completely different things. Just as two people can be experiencing the same exact circumstances and having two completely different reactions.
It all comes down to our perception, which is often guided by those pesky subconscious thoughts of ours.
When we are aware of our thoughts, we can choose how we look at a situation; how we perceive it.
When we’re all sunblocked up with our sunnies on, strutting our stuff down the beach like Pam from Baywatch and a monsoon hits, we can choose to curse Mother Nature or run straight into the ocean and swim in the rain (because we’re already in our swimsuits—duh!).
When we’re sitting in bumper to bumper traffic getting tailgated by a Prius on our way to our unfavorable job, we can choose to enjoy this moment of “slowing down”, put on the Backstreet Boys Spotify radio, and scream out “I want it that way” in reference to the new career we want to begin.
When we’re all dressed up and ready to celebrate another year around the sun with a coin-sized blemish between our eyes, we can choose to glob 3 pounds of concealer on or just say screw it and wear our blemish loud and proud because we’re beautiful regardless and nothing (or no zit) will ruin our day of birth!
The point is, when you can find the positive in a negative situation, you win.
When you can bring awareness to every perceived series of unfortunate events in your life, you can override your mind’s tendency to get down in the dumps and shut Nancy up for good.
Awareness is the first step. Flipping our thoughts is the second. Changing our language is the third.
Once we’ve switched up that thought in our head, it’s important we use our language appropriately to spit it out into our reality.
When the words you speak don’t align with the thoughts in your head, you are running like a hamster on one of those spinning wheels chasing a piece of cheese (or Snickers bar or whatever your hamster self wants to eat) on a cycle of never-ending negative speech patterns.
If you want to be positive, you need to speak positive. What good is the thought in your head if you just downplay it with the words you choose to express it?
Example: “Rain is good. We need rain for food. I like food. I’m going to get myself an order of cauliflower wings and eat it in the rain with a smile (and buffalo sauce) on my face.”
Example: “I love my long car rides to work because I get to feed my mind with podcasts and change my perspective while I’m on my way to a job I chose to have that makes me money so I can buy 30 fake succulents to make my Pinterest living room a reality.”
Example: “This pimple on my face is just as big and beautiful as my two blue eyes that are sitting on either side of it and I love that my body has its own way of releasing unwanted oils from my face and I’m going to post a picture with it to make other women feel comfortable with their blemishes too!”
By changing your thoughts from negative to positive, then following it up with your language, you are creating a reality for yourself that puts you in abundance and gratitude instead of scarcity and fear.
Choosing positive thoughts and language over negative ones comes down to choosing abundance over scarcity.
Abundance means a very large quantity of something—looking at the glass half (or fully) full. Abundance is literally everywhere. There is abundance of food, water, money, knowledge, flip flops, time, and smoothie bowls—if you choose to look at it that way.
Maybe your current circumstance isn’t overflowing with chia seeds and blueberries like a delicately decorated Acai bowl, but there’s a blender in your kitchen and a Trader Joe’s down the street and you have money in your wallet to make your own Insta-worthy smoothie bowl right this minute!
By choosing to see the possibilities all around you—focusing on abundance—you will be inclined to think positively. These positive, abundant thoughts will cause you to speak positively (i.e. “everything I need to make a bomb breakfast smoothie bowl is available to me”). This positive language will incite positive action until you are face deep in that smoothie bowl, licking up every last drop of peanut butter with no shame in your game.
Maybe you aren’t as obsessed with smoothie bowls as I am (or maybe now you’re craving one), but you can insert any abundant thought into that previous scenario to practice the power of abundance in your life.
If this is getting too happy-go-lucky for you, I’d like to drop a little dose of (negative) reality to balance things out.
Yes, there are bad thoughts in our heads. There are bad things in this world. There is bad language that is used (by truckers and blog writers and moms who stub their toe on their DIY bed frames).
No, it’s not realistic to be happy all the time (try throwing a smile on when your toe is throbbing and swollen to the size of that pimple on your forehead). We need to experience negative moments, we need to feel them out, then we need to LET THEM GO.
What is realistic is our always available handy dandy “choice”. The choice to recognize a negative thought, do some voo-doo magic to change it in our mind, then spew out language that focuses on abundance in an uncooperative situation.
We have the choice to be “Negative Nancy, Norman, Nelly, or Nick” or “Positive Pam, Patrick, Penelope, or Peter”.
Wake up, smell the coffee, and choose your words wisely.
Grow with the flow,