“I hate drama,”I tell my friend, dramatically. “I’m just a chill kind of person” (I’m not). “I just can’t stand all the negativity around here,” I tell another friend on another day. “It’s just so awful. No one knows how to do their damn job!” I keep complaining and slowly lose the will to give anything beyond like 60% effort. “Have you heard about ole what’s-her-name? She did something subjectively terrible, and even though I don’t even know her, I’m going to judge her harshly and say nasty things about her. Yeah, she’s the worst. I’ve never made any mistakes.”
While this fake dialogue may be just slightly dramatized, it does represent a problem I’ve noticed with myself. Far too much negativity. I’ve been the reason someone has rolled their eyes. I’ve been the person that maybe has been avoided because of my attitude. I’ve been guilty of being the type of person I complain about.
Venting and complaining are necessary outlets and I engage in them frequently. However, I’m still victim to my own feedback loop of commiserating and the “high” it produces. After all, dopamine doesn’t care if it’s a positive or negative emotion.
So what’s the answer?
Be positive and happy and shit, right? Wrong. I think the opposite of negativity and toxicity is empathy and compassion. Understanding where someone else is coming from before writing them off as a fuck up. The ole “walk a mile in their shoes before you judge” kind of thing. I certainly know I’d like some empathy if the situation were reversed.
I think I’m a pretty empathetic person in general, but why is it at work, or with family, or with close friends, I can be so negative and judgmental? Shouldn’t I cut people some slack, especially those I am closest to or those I’m around the most?
That’s what I’m working on. Empathy when I want to complain. Saying something nice, when I want to say something mean. Not saying anything when I can’t be nice (there’s an old adage in that statement, too). I’m obviously completely imperfect at this, but it’s a start. I’m aware of it now, at least, and I’ll keep getting better.
Are you guilty of being toxic sometimes? What do you do about it?