The Addiction To Negativity

Steve Thayer

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I went to a seminar recently that was sponsored by Hospice of San Luis Obispo County. They hosted renowned author, trainer, and therapist Harville Hendrix, Ph. D. , for their annual Health & Wellness Conference. Dr. Hendrix has been on the Oprah show many times and his book Getting The Love You Want has been on the New York Times Best Seller List 4 times. It was a great day of learning for both the couples in attendance, but also for counselors to be refreshed in the concepts.

One of the standout ideas of the day for me was Dr. Hendrix’s discussion on our society’s addiction to negativity. It was one of those “seeing the whole forest” versus “the trees right in front of me” moments. Because of our addiction, it is easier to see how limited the use of positive and supportive comments are between couples, families, co-workers, and even the clerk at the store, than the bombarding of negative comments are in our daily lives. Negativity can be obvious criticism, put-downs, sarcasm, etc. Pretty much anything that devalues another person.

An addiction? Isn’t that what an alcoholic or drug user is? Certainly that is true, but so are workaholics, sex addicts, some eating disorders, addicted gamblers, over-spenders, etc. Random House defines an addiction as a “giving over to” and “habit-forming. ” In other words, we learn a habit; habits are not necessarily something that we recognize, and they are hard to break. Hard to break really means the struggle to give up the habit by learning a new one - a habit that works better in our lives.

Dr. Hendrix related that upon realizing the prevalence of negativity in his relationship with his wife, they decided to go cold turkey and avoid negativity completely. Soon afterwards he said that it felt like his head was going to explode from the negative build-up. Cold turkey is a very difficult way to break a habit.

To change a habit we need to:

  • Be aware that we have it.
  • Understand the impact it has on our lives (especially those around us).
  • Find something that works better.
  • Gradually cut back on what we want to change and increase what we want to do.
  • Be patient, but make it a priority.

    The possibility of life filled with more positive communication, even one more supportive comment a day, is an exciting thing. I think that we can all work towards that.

    Steve Thayer is a California State Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Certified Financial Planner™, and co-owner of , a Home Filing Solutions Company. He has written articles for various publications for 30 years, and besides working in counseling and financial consulting, his goal is to help make life less tedious and more fulfilling for people by developing paperwork filing solutions.

    You may contact at and .

    © Steve Thayer 2007 All rights Reserved - May not be copied or distributed without the author's permission.

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