Overcoming Negativity

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Fighting negativity is a constant battle. We live in a world full of inspirational quotes and Instagram captions about positivity, and while these can be helpful, they are not the only—and maybe not even the best—way to truly overcome negativity.

Theology of the Body helps us challenge negativity by reminding us of who we truly a
re and what we are called to become through God’s grace. Negativity traps us in our fallen selves, making us believe that the broken person we see when we look in the mirror is all we are and all we can ever be. TOB allows us to acknowledge the work that needs to be done but gives us the blueprint to imagine what our lives can look like if we keep allowing God to do that work in our hearts and in our world. The Theology of the Body helps us rediscover the freedom the negativity seeks to rob us of; the freedom to cooperate with God’s grace to become what we are; whole, healed, godly, grace-filled sons and daughters of God.

Here are three More2Life hacks for overcoming negativity:

1. Don’t Be Positive–The cure for negative thinking is NOT positive thinking. In reality, positive thinking almost always fails to produce effective results because it seems false–and it is.  Just like negative thinking tends to strain out anything good, positive thinking doesn’t allow us to acknowledge the real problems that need to be addressed. You can’t just ignore your way out of your problems by putting a smiley-face sticker on them. So what IS the cure for negativity?  HELPFUL THINKING. Ask yourself, “What would be the most helpful way to look at this situation?” In other words, how could you look at the present situation in a way that would help you find both the resources and motivation to formulate the most productive course of action?  Helpful thinking avoids the pitfalls of both negative and artificially positive thinking, giving you a way of keeping your situation in perspective while figuring out the best way forward.

2. Embrace your Freedom–We often use negativity as a way of escaping from freedom.  We’re afraid to do something about our situation because we might fail, or we don’t want to deal with the consequences of making a choice so instead of praying for the courage to act in the most godly and productive way possible, we tell ourselves there’s nothing we can do,” the situation is doomed,” “we are hopeless,” “they’ll never change,” “why bother trying?” All of these lies deny the truth that no one can ever take away our God-given freedom to act. There is always some small change we can make and if we can bring those small changes to God, he can multiply our efforts just like He multiplied the loaves and fishes. Escaping negativity means categorically rejecting the lie of powerlessness and embracing the freedom God gives to all of his children, a freedom that allows us to choose to cooperate with grace no matter what our circumstances.

3. Do SOMETHING. Negativity is paralyzing. To fight back. Do SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  Even if you aren’t sure it will really make a difference, acting at all–especially if it is something you haven’t done before–is better than staying stuck. The good news? Every step you take gives you new information that leads to new possibilities and those new possibilities will destroy negativity once and for all.

For more information on how to conquer negativity in your life check out Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart and tune in to More2Life, weekdays at 10am E/9am C, on EWTN Radio Network/Sirius XM 139. Or, give us a call at Pastoral Solutions Institute!

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About Dr. Greg

Dr. Gregory Popcak directs the Pastoral Solutions Institute, an organization dedicated to helping Catholics find faith-filled solutions to marriage, family, and personal problems. Together with his wife, Lisa, he hosts More2Life Radio. He is the author of over a dozen books integrating psychological insights with our Catholic faith. For more info about books, tele-counseling and other resources, visit www.CatholicCounselors.com.