Friday, September 23, 2011

Sucked into Negativity

The other day I sat down with a group of publishing professionals to talk about the state of the industry, and by the end of the hour I was a wreck. This particular group was full of doomsday predictors, something I'm not, and it got to me. It got to me really fast. And then I walked out of the meeting, went home, chatted with Kim, had a glass of wine, and centered myself again.

I will not be meeting with that particular group again.

It's really, really easy to get sucked into other people's angst. I see it all the time with authors, especially after conferences. Suddenly everyone is in a panic and it's usually incited by one or two people. If you're a negative person, I'm sorry. If you tend to think the glass is half full, keep away from those who don't.

Jessica

43 comments:

Phil Hall said...

The glass is not half full; nor is it half empty. The glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

NatalieCottrell said...

I've noticed this unfortunate occurance in almost every social circle. It takes character to step away from the situation and refuse to take part, so cheers for doing so. These days we all need more willingness to stand up for positivity, even if it means we're cast as the 'naive optimist.' Bring it! :) Happy Friday!

Rick Daley said...

Some called the glass half-full. Others called the glass half-empty. I noticed it was really made of plastic and called it a cup.

WORD VERIFICATION: coing. The sound of a bouncing quarter. Your turn to drink.

steeleweed said...

1) Phil must be an engineer.

2) It's easy to be negative and gives the illusion of sophistication, at least in the speaker's mind. Up-beat folks are dismissed as Pollyannas.

3) I suspect many people are afraid to be positive, lest they be disappointed. They fear failure, which is stupid (we all fail; some learn from it and move on) and self-defeating (if you fear failure, you stop trying to achieve).

Sheila Connolly said...

Sounds like the stock market this week. Maybe it's the equinox.

Negativity doesn't produce results, or at least, not the ones you want.

Sara said...

There is actually a term for this: emotional contagion. I learned in my yoga teacher training that emotions--especially negativity--can be transmitted to someone else in 1/500 of a second.
The yogic interventions are calming breathwork, recognition of what's happening, and consciously choosing to stay centered, but wine works just as well! :)

Cheyenne Hill said...

I agree with Sheila's comment. Even just on a personal level, focusing on the negative and indulging in worries (especially as though that's the *smart* way of thinking) yields nothing positive. There is a balance, but at this point in my life I've finally realised I'd rather come at things from a positive perspective and potentially be disappointed then sit in misery the entire time!

And being able to step away and not accept the worries of the Negative Neds is a very good thing.

On that note, TGIF :)

sharlalovelace.com said...

Lordy, just had the same conversation with my hubby last night. He is a pessimist always expecting the worst and if it goes well then that is just gravy. Drives me up a wall, and he doesn't call it pessimism, he calls it reality. I call it doom and gloom. Good thing I'm there with some sunshine, but lord that gets draining sometimes!!

CPatLarge said...

Wise words, indeed. And pessimistic that I am by nature, I have to be even more careful what energy I surround myself with. It's tough sometimes to withdraw from those overly negative folks, but so necessary to emotional survival. I'm learning, slowly.

Sarah M. said...

Negativity is one of the fastest substances in known physics. Second only to Bad News. Worse yet it's also a sickness that's highly contagious. You did the right, and hardest, thing to do: walk away.

The Other Stephen King said...

What Phil said....

I usually call these kind of people emotional vampires. Unfortunately it's really easy to get sucked in with them. Thanks for the reminder, though--as the rejections keep piling up, I am working at keeping my chin higher than the pile.

Stacy said...

Emotional vampires is a great term. It is very easy to let the negativity of others bring us down, and since we writers tend to be a sensitive group, we're affected more than most. I think stepping away and focusing on the good is the best we can do.

ryan field said...

Isn't THAT the truth!!

You listen to some of these people and think the world is coming to an end.

Kate Douglas said...

Pessimists don't have a hell of a lot to look forward to, though the last year has been tough, especially in the publishing industry. On the optimistic side, there have never been more options for writers. When I started with epublishing over ten years ago, no one knew what an ebook was and sales were pathetic. Now, with the proliferation of ereaders and the growing sale of ebooks, we have that option of going out on our own and actually making sales.

So yes, the industry is changing and change isn't always easy to adjust to, but it's gonna happen. The nice thing about the current changes is that the authors don't have to be left behind.

Now I'm taking my disgusting Pollyanna attitude and going back to work.

Stephanie McGee said...

Very excellent advice. There are negatives in every social circle. You just have to identify them and learn to avoid them.

Oliver Yeh said...

In the presence of a person who thinks the glass is half empty, take the glass from him, drink the water, hand it back and say, "Thanks, my throat was a bit dry."

Bri said...

Extremely important. Cut the toxic people out of your life. Once I did that, I had all the space I could ask for to be myself, be happy, follow my dreams. It's a choice, it's hard to act on it, but it's worth it in the end.

Nicole said...

Sorry, but the glass isn't half full. But that's only because it was half full of hot chocolate and then I drank it all and it was DELICIOUS. :D

*Always look on the bright side of life, dee-doo-dee-dum-dee-dee-doo*

Anonymous said...

Maybe the industry is in peril, I don't know but I doubt any bestselling authors thought so when they were struggling to finish their manuscripts. Success in any profession takes hope, talent and tenacity. The lack of which certainly will result in failure.

SBJones said...

It is unfortunate that the people you sat with fear change instead of coming up with ways to evolve and prosper.

Anonymous said...

Negativity doesn't help anybody, but neither does irrational exuberance.

Anonymous said...

I suppose nothing stays the same forever. We just have to learn to change with it. Negativity is infectious; so be proud of yourself that you chose to rise above it and be who you are. Look back on it, and be thankful that you're not the one bogged down by fear and pessimism. Yuck!

I can’t stand it when I have a bad day because of someone else’s attitude. I couldn’t imagine carrying around what they do every day!

Cheers.

Lillie McFerrin said...

You're absolutely right! It's so easy to get sucked into negativity around us. Wonderful that you see the bright side!

http://lilliemcferrin.blogspot.com

Kristin Laughtin said...

This is why it's good to have a support group. Sometimes we need to temper reality with a dose of hope--and this is especially true for those of us trying to break into the industry. Even if it's just your friends and family, keep people around who can inject some optimism!

Roxanne Skelly said...

So when I get worried, I try to objectively write down, or at least think of, the basic facts. They help you focus on the right stuff....

With respect to the industry...

As a reader:
* I like to read.
* I will buy reading material.
* I want to read quality material.

I don't think any of that's gotta change, so all you really need to do is get quality reading material in front of me, and I'll give you money.

I think if you focus on doing that, regardless of how it's done, you'll be ok.

bluemistlizzi said...

It's always a bit sad to me that sometimes people are so much in need of some feeling, any feeling, in their lives that the negative seems a good place to be and even better, it gets them attention, albeit by people with a negative bent.
Pulling myself out of the situation by the scruff works too, but I've found it's best just to stay clear and BREATHE! (And spend time with some of the lovely and positive people I've met through RWNZ!)
Thanks for your great blog, Jessica. I've been subscribing for only a few days but it's become a highlight of opening my emails. I Look forward to it daily. Yes, the glass is definitely half full.. If you tip it on its side, you can even believe it's 3/4 full!
Have a great day,
Lizzi

Gina Black said...

Amen.

wry wryter said...

Ms. Trite feels very serious about this subject.
She does not like negative people.

There are two parts to the glass, only;the glass itself and what’s in it.
(The empty part is nothing, it really doesn’t matter how you look at it because its 'matter' is zero.)

If your mouth is dry, the glass is half full, if you're drunk, it's half empty...again.

Ms. Trite is feeling a little negative right now, perhaps it is because her glass is totally empty...so is her bottle.

Angie said...

I like that you walked out of the meeting. I raise my glass to you.

Positivity is contagious.

Back in high school I decided that my life was a book I was writing and editing. I decided to edit out all the things that were boring. Negative people, the true vampires, were the top of the list.

Donna said...

Totally agree. No room in my life for negativity.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

This. I'm an eternal optimist and it drives me crazy when i stumble upon people who are down on things. I try to stay away from them

Virginia Llorca said...

But what is the human weakness that allows us to be affected by such negativity? I always feel so weak and assaulted after I am through talking myself back up.

JPK said...

Books going digital and the selfpublishing boom are not doom and gloom. It's great for the writers! Everyone needs to stop thinking in atoms and start thinking in bits. The music industry did, and hopefully the publishing industry will do the same. Sooner rather than later...

Anonymous said...

The real world is not about attitude, it's about facts. Attitudes are merely our interpretation, which can be correct or incorrect. What matters is not whether someone's "negativity" makes you feel bad, but whether it's grounded in reality.

If it's not grounded in reality, the solution is to counter their bad information, not to avoid the issue.

If it is grounded in reality, the solution is to search for solutions, not to avoid the problem. Denial is not a solution.

In either case, hiding from things you don't enjoy is not the mature, professional way to react.

And, apologies to the commenters who are trying to be "supportive" (it's really enabling behavior), but people who are looking for positivity without regard to the reality of the situation are in fact irrational pollyannas, and usually cause things to get worse, not better, over the long term.

The real self-defeating strategy is not "being negative" but disregarding the way things really are whether that means undue negativity or undue positivity.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1033, are you depressed? I would certainly be if I held your worldview, or spent any time with people like you in real life.

I don't see how that's productive. In order to solve legitimate problems, you have to believe it's possible.

wry wryter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
K. Robinson said...

I know exactly what you mean. When I tell people I write for magazines, they love to tell me "Magazines are dead." First of all, thanks for the encouragement. Second of all, why is it that I find more work and more pay year after year?

wry wryter said...

Anon, 1033.

If you are unhappy and miserable...it is because you want to be.
Negative...because you want to be negative.

I'm not irrational, or a pollyanna, I'm a writer who can't spell for shit and I've been published over 60 times.
I'm a woman who was once bathed in loneliness and am now married with two wonderful children and an unbelieveable husband.

Unless you are typing with a mouth-stick you've got nothing to bitch about.

Anonymous said...

Wry Writer, I think your desperately non sequitur response does more than you realize to bolster my contention that obsessively positive people are irrational. I never said that I was unhappy or miserable (I'm quite happy without denying the negative aspects of reality) so your reply is completely out of synch with the facts.

Or, as the Bard put it: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks."

In my experience, positive-thinking ideology is a symptom of fear, fragility, and avoidance of reality more than any genuine positivity about the world. It's a form of denial, a defense mechanism that relies on a willing avoidance of reality.

Strong, mature people somehow manage to express and absorb negative facts and negative interpretations of facts without lashing out the way you have, and without withdrawing like a child pulling the covers over his head. And, despite what you seem to believe, without it making them miserable.

Anonymous said...

OPD: Other people's drama. Never let it suck you in.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe they are right...

Or venting. A bitch session. Maybe you should have re-directed the conversation and inserted some of your positive energy.

wry wryter said...

Mmmmm…, anon, you use big important words and concepts, I ’m impressed. And your cliché…I love clichés because they are so trite.
I was actually playing off anon 206, who was commenting about anon 1033.
Hey, I equate obsessive negativity with people being miserable. Am I right, am I wrong? Am I realistic? Hell no… is probably what I am, but what I’m not is negative, most of the time.
Bitter doesn’t taste good.

Rebecca Kiel said...

Each time I come across particularly negative people, I consider the encounters opportunities to get more grounded in my optimism. There is a lot of fear going around these days. Hope and trust in where I choose to live. That said, I think I would need a warm shower or a good dose of nature after a meeting like the one you attended. Or wine. It's all good.