8/2/10 “Negativity”

Good day, team,

This week’s challenge is about resisting the power of negativity.

Over the past few months, I have noticed how difficult it is to stay positive in the midst of negativity. There are certainly a myriad of daunting circumstances: natural or man-made disasters, e.g., Haiti’s devastation and the BP oil spill; the almost complete collapse of our monetary system and the resulting recession or depression; the incessant arguing that goes on among our politicians,  and the high unemployment rate. Wherever we look, there seems to be plenty to complain about.

Becoming part of the negativity—blaming, arguing and acting out in ways that do not serve ourselves or others—is not the answer. But there are times lately when I feel as though Darth Vader is invading my space: I can hear his heavy breathing next to me; I’m being lured to come over to the dark side.

These are challenging moments. There are times when I want badly to agree with a client who says, “My job sucks, no one appreciates me, and my boss is a loser.” And yet I know that the boss isn’t really a loser. Maybe he or she just did something badly or took a course of action my client didn’t agree with. Whatever the case, the negative attitude that my client holds is certainly not helping, but in the moment of frustration, something in me understands and wants to go along with it.

And therein lies much of the challenge that comes with being a coach. It’s not my job to agree or disagree with my clients, but to help them look at situations from another point of view, so they can see that their boss didn’t wake up that morning deciding to make a mistake, much less intending for things to go awry.

Perhaps because the media focuses so much on what’s wrong in the world, it’s harder to believe that almost all humans want good things for themselves and others. If we sat around the campfire every evening and shared stories about how people had done incredibly beautiful and brilliant things for each other rather than watching the nightly news report or reading the latest news blog, we might find it easier to assume positive intent.

At the heart of this discussion is the matter of trust: trust in others, trust in the universe, trust in your fate. And maybe the reason we’re seeing this pervasive negativity is because, for many people on the planet, it’s a hard time to trust.  Somehow, the rules changed in the past decade, and we’re not at all sure what’s at the end of the rainbow anymore. If it is a pot of gold, we’re not even sure what that gold will be worth when we find it.

Many of the things we thought we were moving toward don’t seem to be possible anymore, or if they are possible, they don’t look so attractive. It used to be that owning a home, having a good job and raising a family were considered the keys to happiness. Now, experiencing home foreclosures, the instability of any corporation and the jobs it creates or reduces, and the enormous cost of raising children and their education, many people are not so sure whether these are still the fixtures of the good life.

So here’s your challenge this week. Realize that negativity, doubt and lack of trust are extremely powerful. Resolve not to feed them. When you find yourself suspecting another person’s intentions, try seeing that person from a different point of view. If you have your suspicions, try not to share them with others. Negativity is contagious, and one doubtful thought can infect an entire team, even an entire organization.

Think of all the times you’ve had the best of intentions, yet could not control the outcome, and in the end things went wrong. Remember what it was like when a friend who saw you go through this failure forgave you and had faith in you the next time you tried to get it right. Find that place within you that knows how little control we actually have over external circumstances. Give others the benefit of the doubt and be willing to respect them. That’s what the word really means: To re (do again) spect (from the same root as “spectacle,” to see) implies the willingness to see someone again, and hopefully in a new light.

I am encouraged knowing that we move into the light by being more truthful and transparent. Frankly, I would rather be holding my light saber up to Darth Vader than acting as though he doesn’t exist.  I also know that I hold all colors of the rainbow within me, whether they be in light or shadow. Appreciating them in myself and others: Aye, that’s the challenge!

Have a good week,


Kathleen Doyle-White
Pathfinders Coaching
(503) 296-9249

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