What is Negative Negativity?

Q. Can you explain what negative negativity is?

A. We all experience negativity from time to time – our own and that of others. Negativity is the antagonistic stance we take when we want things to be different than they are. When we are being negative we would like things to change to suit our view of the world, and the sooner the better. Basic negativity, like basic honesty or basic anger, is simply creativity revealing itself as preference or dislike. It is neither good nor bad, just an accurate telling of what is so for us. If we left it at that and didn’t obscure it with our judgments, it would dissipate naturally. But when we feed it and boil it on a hot stove, it can become something else entirely and take on a life of its own.

Negative negativity is an unpleasant bias; a character flaw we all have and wish we didn’t. It hides behind our better qualities and shows up as an uninvited guest. Before we know it, this ill-mannered guest has made himself at home, leaving us to figure out what it will take to get him to leave. When we feel negative we defend, attack, become righteous and indignant about how unfair everything is, and blame the world for our pain. Negativity breeds discontent and rigidity. Before long, our uninvited guest has invited his negative friends to the party, and if they find the scene to their liking, they’ll invite negative friends of their own. Our negative guests love to gossip about how they are experts on the subject and how little everyone else seems know about it. Within a few hours you’ll have a bunch of negativity experts camped out on your sofa!

Negative negativity is a kind of double negativity. It is negativity for the sake of being negative. Negative negativity loves being negative and feels superior because of it. It’s what we do when we use rationales, philosophies, jargon, and specialized terms to justify or avoid a truth; it’s what was there before negativity emerged as a substitute. Negative negativity is heavy-handed and self-contained; it lives in its own protective shell, shutting out thoughts that contradict it.

So, negative negativity is pretending that we are not being negative, or being negative because we are justified in being so, or acting negatively because someone else isn’t and we feel they should be, or negatively gossiping about how negative gossip can be, or – last one—hanging out with negative people in hopes that our negativity will be seen as a positive thing. Okay, last last one – attracting negative people who tell us that our being negative could be seen as negative by some negative people who don’t think they are being negative.

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