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Addicted to Negativity

by Dr. Sidney Langston

Have you ever met someone that always has a negative attitude? It seems that regardless of how well things may be going for them, they find something wrong . . . they are never happy. Research demonstrates that negativism is a learned attitude based on how one  has been raised and educated. Negativism also results from persistent unresolved emotional woundedness and living in a dysfunctional environment.


Some researchers believe the condition of negativism has reached epidemic proportions in this country. As a result, they have coined the labels Negaholism and Negaholics to describe and define this syndrome. They have discovered that, just as alcoholics are addicted to drinking, the chronic sufferer from low self-esteem is addicted to negativity. This addiction to negativity and self-doubt afflicts people in varying degrees regardless of race, color or creed.


It has also been determined that parents can teach negative thinking to their children — who then pass it on to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. However, this same research has demonstrated that the converse is also true. Positive attitudes run in families just as negative ones do.


Carter-Scott (1989), in her research, defines Negativism/Negaholism as a syndrome in which  people unconsciously limit their own innate abilities; convince themselves that they can't have what they want; and sabotage their wishes, desires and dreams. In this same research, Carter-Scott establishes:


Four categories of negative people:


Attitudinal negativists are successful people who relentlessly drive themselves. On the outside they appear to have it all together, but on the inside they are tormented. Their negativism is of the most subtle form because, superficially, their appearance is clean, orderly and aesthetically pleasing.


Behavioral negativists are probably succeeding in spite of themselves. They try so hard that no one wants to fault them. Because they are caught in the discrepancy between their ideas and their actions, they are unable to break out of their old behavioral patterns. Even though they seem to try, they most often miss the mark. These negativists usually act out their negativity in non-supportive ways such as in too much smoking, overeating, excessive drinking, abuse of substances, or over indulgence in exercise, TV, work, relationships, religion, gambling, etc.

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