Awesome Ify asks: “Dear Melody, I’d really like to know why some people just can’t help but focus on the negatives all the time, in any context. Whether it’s how someone looks, how bad the world is or what’s bugging them that day! Why not focus on the positives (which there are more of?) Are people conditioned to think like this? The news media are a perfect example of this pedaling, so are we attracting it?”
Dear Awesome Ify,
What a wonderful question. We talk so much about reorienting ourselves from the negative to the positive, but where does this propensity to focus on the worst case scenario even come from? Are we born with it? Is it just human nature? Or is it learned behavior? In other words, is it nature or nurture? Well, I’d love to just say that it’s nurture (and it is), but if I left it at that, a whole lot of people would read that the wrong way and come to more false conclusions. So, I’m going to do a bit more explaining. Also, if I published a one word blog post, I’m pretty sure my regular readers would assume that I’d been abducted by aliens, because never in the history of my glorious life have I EVER been that succinct (if only).
Why people are so damn negative
Ok, so first I’m going to answer your question and then I’m going to give you enough of an explanation around that answer to ensure that it’s taken in an empowering way (unless you’re determined to be miserable, which is your Universe-given right. Free will and all that jazz.)
We are not born with a negative outlook. None of us are. Not humans, animals, plants, rocks or iPhones (I like to believe my iPhone is a particularly happy shiny puppy). But seriously, no baby comes into this world seeking worry, pain, or depression. It is, in fact, quite the opposite. We do our best to avoid pain and seek pleasure. All life depends on that concept. Otherwise, our ancestors would’ve discovered fire and, seeking that lovely, horrific, burny sensation, would’ve promptly incinerated themselves. Phooomp. But, oh shocker, they didn’t. They used fire but somehow knew to not kill themselves with it. The first time a Neanderthal burned his hand on a glowing ember, he got the message that touching the stuff or getting too close to it wasn’t a good idea. He wasn’t going to naturally seek out experiences that felt bad. You see, we knew better then.
Negative focus is a belief, a learned behavior. At this point, it would be easy to blame religion for spreading messages supporting the belief that suffering is somehow a virtue. But, even though they did do that, we can’t really lay the blame at their feet. They were simply taking advantage of a belief that was already there.
Why we became negatively focused
You see, we humans are built to observe our environment, come to conclusions about it (is what we’re seeing wanted or unwanted), and then make decisions based on those conclusions. Our continued striving for better and better feeling outcomes is the main driver behind our evolution. In other words, this ability and propensity to observe and come to conclusions is an important part of who we are. The problem is that we don’t always come to the right conclusions. We only ever have access to our current perspective and our conclusions are very much subject to our current level of understanding. If you showed someone from 1000 years ago a tablet computer, they would think it was magic. Their level of understanding would not allow them to comprehend what they were actually seeing. What’s more, Mr. Dark Ages would probably think it was Dark Magic, an instrument of the devil, something to be feared, reported and chased down by a lynch mob. Why is that?
Well, the truth is that we didn’t become negatively focused as part of some conspiracy plot to enslave the world. It happened naturally, as part of our human development and is an important part of our overall evolution. You see, when early man was in the Jungle, he had to look out for danger pretty much constantly. Until we discovered technology (weapons, etc.), we weren’t really at the top of the food chain. Other animals had bigger teeth, stronger claws and could easily outrun us. We weren’t the predators, then, we were the prey. And so, we kept a keen eye out for anything that could eat us or harm us. With that in mind, whenever we encountered anything new, it was simply much safer to first assume that it was harmful, rather than to assume it was benign, only to later get bitten in the ass by it (sometimes literally). We began to imagine possible dangers, as a way of protection – if we could anticipate our predators’ next moves, we could defend ourselves against them.
Paying the price
As we observed nature, we came to some conclusions about it. We intuitively understood that there was more going on than we could see, and so we came up with the concept of a god, outside ourselves. The earliest gods were closely tied to Mother Nature and weren’t necessarily so much worshipped, as respected. We observed that nature is always in balance, but then came to some erroneous conclusions. Instead of seeing ourselves as part of that balance, our increasing intelligence and self-awareness made us feel as though we were separate from it, not part of the natural processes, but at their mercy. Striving to keep the equilibrium that’s inherent in Nature, we figured that if nature (or the gods) gave to us, we had to give back. It was only fair. At some point, we decided that we didn’t just have to give back, we had to pre-pay the price, appeasing nature or the gods and putting them in a good mood, so they’d take mercy on us and give us a good harvest, or plenty of fish, or loads of babies. Some of these decisions will, no doubt, have been facilitated by greedy little individuals seeking to gain more power. But, nevertheless, it all seemed quite probable at the time.
And so, we began to pay the price. We sacrificed virgins and children and cut out our enemies’ hearts in elaborate ceremonies, hoping that our offerings were enough to appease the gods, who had morphed from being representations of nature (a loving, balanced, but neutral energy) to the personification of the worst of man’s qualities – jealous, petty, angry, volatile monsters with bad, bad tempers. We saw ourselves as the equivalent of a battered wife, appeasing her abusive husband in the hopes that he would be kind tonight. We felt powerless, not really able to understand the world around us, and making sense of it in the best way we could.
We always reach for the best feeling explanation we can find
Believe it or not, in these early days, the idea of all powerful gods, even if they were dicks, felt better than no structure at all. After all, this construct at least provided some kind of explanation for why stuff happened. If the crops failed, it wasn’t just some random event, it was because the gods were angry. If we could then appease the gods, it gave us a measure of control. It actually felt less powerless to believe in these gods than to not. And so, in these early days, these were the best feeling thoughts we had access to.
Later, in the dark ages, when we believed that bad things happened because of demons and devils, these were again thoughts that actually felt more empowering to us than the alternatives we had access to at that time. A reason for why something happens, even if it’s a twisted, totally false one, feels better than no reason at all. Knowing that you’ll get fed if you allow yourself to get beaten is preferable to the idea of not getting fed at all. Both are powerless scenarios, but one is less so than the other. And, given the choice, we will always strive for the more empowering choice, even if both suck.
Fast forward to today
As we’ve gone through the ages, we’ve gained new perspectives and new levels of understanding. We no longer think that disease is caused by the devil. We understand weather patterns and that we don’t have to sacrifice virgins in order to get rain. But… old beliefs die hard, especially if you’re not consciously moving from one to the next. Even though we no longer have to constantly worry about being eaten by lions or trampled to death by elephants, the idea of constant and inherent danger, the insecure feeling of being the prey, never totally left us. This is one of the main reasons why we keep coming up with new predators who are hunting us. We have to keep coming up with new bad guys to support this belief. And even though we now have a better understanding of how the world works than we ever have (which could, by the way, be said for any moment in time…), we still feel basically powerless. We still cling on to the idea that we have to pay a price; that we don’t intrinsically deserve anything good, and have to work, suffer, and sacrifice in order to redress the balance. And while religions, politicians and the media and their ilk have only too happily catered to those beliefs and perpetuated them, they didn’t create them. They are, as you so accurately surmised in your question, merely a mirror of what we already believe, seemingly perpetuating it and yet really just slapping us in the face with our beliefs to an ever greater degree, so that we can finally get sick of looking at the world that way and shift to a better feeling perspective.
It’s time to wake up
The process of shifting into ever more empowering beliefs, especially en masse, is a slow one when it occurs unconsciously. Essentially, it requires that enough people shift to a high enough vibration, so that new ideas are no longer scary but become feasible. Generally speaking, one or two more “enlightened” individuals will come forth and turn some belief or understanding on its head. They will then be shunned, discredited, humiliated, and even crucified. After a few years, their ideas will begin to gain recognition and will eventually make it into the mainstream. It’s a bit like a tribe of Neanderthals meeting up with another one. The first newbie they meet, they kill. Just to be safe. After they meet a few more, they might begin to recognize that this other tribe isn’t all that dangerous and could even be helpful. After a couple of generations, the two tribes co-exist peacefully. We always have to acclimate to new ideas.
The thing is, we are moving from this unconscious state to a much more conscious one. We’re beginning to question if we need to kill that first guy. Could we not have a conversation with him and find out what he wants first? We’re beginning to question the idea that we’re all in constant danger. We’re beginning to accept new ideas faster. And in so doing, we look at the old beliefs with a bit of incredulity – how the hell could we ever have believed this crap in the first place?? This is what you’re experiencing when you ask why anyone would choose to be negatively focused in the first place. For you, it is a choice. You’ve realized that. Not everyone has. They are still operating from the old way of thinking, from the unconscious state, but don’t worry, they’re all in the process of waking up, too.
Like a butterfly emerging from its big, fat, pain-ridden cocoon
Our evolution hasn’t been an easy one. We’ve run the gamut of beliefs, exploring one perspective after another, slowly digging our way out of the darkness (read: lack of understanding). In the beginning, our perspective was really, really limited. Over time, it grew, sometimes a bit faster than we could keep up with. When we reached a little further than our beliefs could support, we felt fear, sometimes so much that it created a violent backlash (kind of like a massive rebound effect). Right now, in this time, we’re emerging from this darkness, into the light. It’s like we’ve reached the middle point on the spectrum, the one that separates powerlessness from empowerment, darkness from light, ignorance from understanding.
This mirrors the process that goes on in each of us. When you do this LOA work, at first, it’s all about ending suffering and moving out of the pain. But, once all that crap is cleaned up, we move into the second half. Whereas the bottom half of the spectrum runs from absolute despair to neutral (no suffering), the upper half goes from neutral to joy and ecstasy. In terms of the world, right now, we’ve just crossed that threshold. This is why we’re waking up. We’re becoming conscious of Who We Really Are, how much power we actually have, and are beginning to see those old beliefs for what they really are – bullshit. They weren’t always bullshit, of course. At some time, they served a purpose. But it’s important to keep on moving, to never get complacent and accept yesterday’s explanations as valid today. That’s a bit like saying, “Well, I’ve made it to the second grade. I now know everything I’ll ever need to learn”, and then trying to apply the perspective of a 7 year old to the rest of your life. We have to keep on moving. The enlightened truth of today will be tomorrow’s limiting belief. Evolution never stops. The only difference is that now, we’re becoming aware of it. We don’t have to acclimate to the new ideas over decades or centuries. We can do so in days or weeks. We can choose to accept new paradigms as valid, or at least stop being afraid of them. We can choose to surpass fear. What we’re waking up to now, at its core, is the idea and knowledge that it is a choice. And just because not yet everyone knows that and many people are still struggling to find the next better feeling solution, or are holding on to the last solution they got relief from, doesn’t mean that anything is going wrong.
People are negatively focused because they are afraid not to be. They’re afraid of what will happen if they stop looking out for danger. It feels safer to assume that something is bad and demand proof that it isn’t, instead of the other way around. Add to this the belief that we must pay a price in order to get what we want, and a willingness to do so (because we do want to get what we want), and you have a recipe for a very frustrated, fearful, powerless and yet very driven populace. People want to feel better. They desperately want to find a better feeling perspective. They want to get what they want and will always rebel against the idea that they can’t have it. We are now moving out of the old, powerless beliefs into the new understanding that there is no price to pay, that we are part of the larger, natural design, that we deserve to be happy and that it’s more than possible live a joyful, empowered life. This isn’t an easy metamorphosis. I suppose it’s a little bit like being born, or turning from a heavy, encumbered caterpillar into a light, dainty, free butterfly. Not everyone is going to be evolving at the same rate (and that’s ok), and not everyone is going to enjoy the process (this, too, is a choice, but one which must be realized to be exercised), but it is worth it in the end.
When you see someone being negatively focused, don’t worry about them. They are struggling against those beliefs. Their frustration and anger will show you that. Those who seem to be the most negative, the most willing to argue against a more positive point of view, are the most determined to bust out of their cocoon. When you see the media touting the old beliefs, know that they are there to be a catalyst for change. More and more people are looking at what’s being mirrored back to them and shouting “No! I don’t want to believe that anymore!” See the process and know that we’re all waking up, climbing out of the darkness, some more tentatively than others, but nonetheless, and unstoppable force of evolution.
One other thing: if you’re willing to see the world in this way, you’ll soon attract mountains of evidence that will show you how people are shifting into more positive mindsets by the millions. And that, my dear Awesome Ify, is a wonderful, happy, shiny place to be.