Positively negative: Why we need positive people to put up with us negative folk


I read a blog post by yet another person whose method of seeking to increase joy and positivity in the world is to shun anything – anyone – potentially negative. At least that was my perception and interpretation.

An argument was made for not getting emotionally engaged with the messy negativity of someone else’s grief at losing a loved one. Regardless of method or cause of passing, that person’s time or business on earth has been finished and the messy negativity of grieving the loved one’s passing is unnecessary and dishonoring to that person. It recommended to bypass grief and only do something that expresses joy and honor that the person’s spirit and energy has moved on.

There was no acknowledgement that grief and loss is not about the person who is gone, but about the pain of separation and lost relationship, unrealized and unmet expectations which will never come to be for the person left behind. Grief and sorrow are necessary and inherent aspects of being human. So are things like anger, outrage, a sense of justice and fairness. All of these emotions and experiences are often identified as negative.

As you might guess, being someone who battles depression and experiences a lot of negativity, my internal response to what I was reading, was NOT positive. Especially when I read what appeared to be criticism about people sharing the negativity of having lost someone to cancer or fighting a battle against it.

Without a doubt, being around people who are grieving – for whatever reason – can be a major joy buzzkill. People experiencing mental and physical health concerns, such as depression and cancer, among many other things, can definitely generate negative energy – especially if there was already a tendency toward the negative prior to the onset of the illness. I get it, I really do.

I’m learning to believe in the power of positive thought and how critically imperative it is to learn to shift perspective, speak and think constructively about circumstances and situations where it is much easier to respond negatively.

But here’s the thing. In order to learn how or even know that positive is possible in our world and our experience, we NEED positive people to not abandon us. I need it. Others in our world need it.

When I was at the Opportunity Conference on poverty at the end of June, the speaker Donna Beegle, said that for every negative comment, three positive comments were needed to counter act the effects of the negative. This is even true of the things we say and think to ourselves.

I looked it up. Google actually turned up information regarding work team productivity research done by Marcial Losada. There are three terms I found:

Losada Line – the lowest limit of positive to negative where progress and productivity occur. 3:1 P/N, commonly referred to as the

• Losada Ratio – 3:1 P/N

Losada Zone – the range of P/N ratios where humans flourish in relationships, work, and achieving personal and communal potential when working together. The lower limit is 3:1 and the higher limit is 11:1.

They all refer to the number of positive statements needed in proportion to negative statements in order for productivity to occur. Essentially, people need to speak, hear, and experience positive feedback in context and constructively a minimum of three times for each negative one.

For someone, like myself who has experienced a LOT of negative feedback, both internally and externally; who has gone through multiple significant life events annually and semi-annually for the majority of the previous twenty years; when able to break out of isolation I’m mostly around others who primarily speak the same negative language and whose lives are as unstable as mine, please tell me where to go and who to turn to for exposure to and learning of positive language and attitude if all the positive, “happy, happy, joy, joy,” people decide me and my ilk are too much of a negative drag and drain on their positive vibes and just plain not worth their effort?

If all the positive people wall themselves off from the rest of us soul-sucking negative folk, I’m pretty sure you’ll wind up going extinct. I hypothesize that you can’t procreate enough to populate the world with positivity. You will have to seek, convert, train, and equip the rest of us in the way of positivity.

You’re going to have to triple team us (at the very minimum) and immerse us in sincere, compassionate, empathetic positivity. You’ll have to be patient and understand that grumpy, negative, defensive resistance to your overtures may be the standard response for a while. After all, there is probably a deep well and long history of negative internal and external feedback that we’ve accumulated.

The brightness of happiness and joy is unfamiliar and our metaphorical eyes and skin may find the unaccustomed warmth and light painful at first and maybe even for a long while after you get started. You might need to tag team, so that you don’t get drained of all your positivity. By all means, take a break and take care of yourself. But please remember to come back and share your positivity. Even if all you do is sit by and listen as we grieve or process the latest event that knocked us for a loop. You don’t have to do anything, just be and let us be in the same space.

Shine the light of your positivity and share it in the face of the darkness around you. Be the spark that ignites positivity in the negative spaces.