Overcoming negativity

It can feel the world is awash with negativity. If we are not careful we can allow this negativity into us and it will cloud our view of life. Never underestimate the power of negativity and positive thoughts.

Each positive thought
Has the atom-bomb-capacity
To destroy the negative in us.

Each negative thought
Has the atom-bomb-capacity
To destroy our whole world.

– Sri Chinmoy [1]

To overcome negativity in ourself, in other people, there are many things we can do.


Don’t cherish negativity

Often we unconsciously cherish negativity. We get a subtle temptation to enjoy gossip and complain. This may start off as an innocent joke, but it can grow and we become more and more negative because we focus on it. Sometimes, we need to be aware that negativity is a trait we can consciously hold onto. If we first become aware, we can change.

The mind is like blotting paper

Sri Ramakrishna once observed that the human mind is like blotting paper – it absorbs whatever it is dipped into. If we surround ourselves with a negative environment, then this will seep into us. For example, if you find yourself reading newspaper comments section, internet forums, you expose yourself to vast quantities of negativity. This seeps into your mind, and you start subconsciously picking up on all the negativity yourself. It’s impossible not to be affected to some extent. However,  if you spend time in a very different environment, where there is a positive energy, you will definitely feel the difference – enabling you to feel positive about yourself and the world.

Get out of ruts

Negativity is often the result of getting stuck in a rut – getting stuck in a bad habit. If we have the same routine, the mind gets into a rhythm of complaining. Sometimes, we need to work hard to get out of a rut. Do something out of the ordinary, and break your old habits. This breaks the cycle of negativity and gives a sense of newness. In this newness, you can much more easily get out of your negativity.

But, the problem is other people….

If you feel that the problem is always other people, you can be assured it isn’t. It is true, we need to avoid unnecessarily negative situations. But, ultimately, we have to be aware it is only ourself who can choose to be negative or positive. Other people will always have failings, limitations and degrees of negativity. But, that is not an excuse for us to accept their negativity. Just because other people are enjoying negativity, doesn’t mean we have to.

Staying positive in a sea of negativity.

In theory, it’s easy to say ‘stay positive and cheerful’ – whatever other people do. But, in practise, it can be a little more difficult! What practical steps can we take?

  • Always create time for yourself. For example, a daily meditation routine. This is the chance to invoke peace and inner happiness. In these moments, remind yourself, you can always choose to be grateful for the opportunity for inner happiness. Just the act of reminding yourself of what you want will give you some reserves to reject the negativity, you will face later in the day.
  • Let things flow. A real secret of life is learning to let things go. Don’t magnify small problems. Feel like negativity is impermanent, and can wash away. Don’t dwell on negativity, spending energy complaining about others negativity – then there will be no end. Just see it is a fleeting, passing emotion you can let go. Instead, concentrate on enjoying the positive, something in the present moment.
  • Invoke the positive. It may sound a little trite to say, the secret of avoiding negativity is to concentrate on the opposite. But, it is still true. In stagnation, negativity will become stronger. With a sense of dynamism, and positive energy, negativity gets dissipated. This is the most effective way. Don’t fight negativity, just ignore it by welcoming the opposite.

Positive feelings
Can compel negative thoughts
To starve.

– Sri Chinmoy [2]

  • Remember the good qualities of people. The easiest thing is to fixate on the mistake and weaknesses of other people. If you observe someone’s fault, also insist that you remember something very good about them. This is an excellent practice for avoiding a negative spiral.
  • Be grateful it’s not any worse. Sometimes we get annoyed over really trivial things. We may have to wait in a queue, we have to clean up some mess, but we can still remind ourselves of all the things to be grateful for. Spending a few minutes over a minor inconvenience is not such a problem compared to the difficulties other people face.
  • Change the conversation. Many people will bring up some complaint or negativity in conversation. It is up to us how we respond. It is easy to join in the self-righteous indignation and negativity. But, also we can bring up a completely different topic, which invokes a positive energy. If someone is in a negative frame of mind, there is always going to be something they can be cheerful about that. Ignore their negative chain of thought. Instead mention an achievement they have recently done or inspiring piece of news. Here you are forcing them to forget about their negativity. If you can help others to escape negativity, you will definitely see a great change in your own consciousness. The important thing is you don’t directly challenge someone – ‘stop being negative’ doesn’t work so well. But, mention their achievements, and they will become positive (mostly anyway!). When they are in a good frame of mind, it is then a better energy to deal with their area of concern or negativity.
  • Be a problem solver. It is very easy to list the reasons to be negative. It is very easy to find fault. But, negativity never solves any problem. If a situation looks bleak, what is the best way forward? No matter how bad things may appear, there is always a way to make gradual progress and ameliorate the situation. This is the secret of successful and courageous people. Whatever the situation take a calm look at the best thing you can do. If you trying to improve a very difficult situation, this positive effort is a reason for you to be positive – no matter how bad the external situation is.
  • Don’t expect. Sometimes we are negative because we have unreasonable expectations. When these expectations aren’t fulfilled we become negative. Avoid preconceptions and it is easy to avoid negativity for failed expectation.

Good luck!



[1] Sri Chinmoy, #8733, Ten Thousand Flower-Flames, Part 88, Agni Press, 1983

[2] Sri Chinmoy, #37486, Seventy-Seven Thousand Service-Trees, Part 38, Agni Press, 2004