How Pervasive is Your Negativity?

If there’s one thing about the constant background noise of negativism, it’s how pervasive it can be in a person’s life without them really realizing it’s there.  Because it’s on all the time, it becomes part of the backdrop of their emotional life.  The person fails to realize its presence and power over how they interpret their circumstances.  Because they hear it all the time, they stop paying attention to what it’s really saying.  Because they hear it all the time, they stop hearing it.

I read a newspaper article about the tragic death of a teenager who failed to hear the train that killed her.  This young seventeen-year-old wasn’t deaf; in fact, she was talking on her cell phone when she died, run over by the train.  She was walking to have her nails done, crossing over the train tracks near her home.  According to the story in the Seattle Times, police said it appeared she “was engrossed in her phone conversation and failed to hear the approaching train or its whistle.  She lives near the tracks, and police suspect she may have become used to the house.” [1]  The noise of the oncoming train, the shrill warning of the whistle, even the honking of a nearby motorist didn’t break through to this young woman.  Familiarity with her surroundings obscured the danger.  The article went on to say that people who live around train tracks can simply become so used to the noise that they fail to notice it.  Said a police spokesperson, “After a while, that noise just doesn’t exist.” [2]

This teenager didn’t recognize the danger bearing down on her because of its utter familiarity.  It’s the same with the background noise of negativity that so many people have running inside their minds.  After a while, it becomes so familiar that they stop “hearing” it and fail to recognize the danger it presents to their lives and happiness.

So, how do you hear something you’re so used to that you’ve tuned it out?  The answer, I’ve found, is to turn up the volume.  Now, that may seem counterintuitive.  It seems like you should just turn it down so you really can’t hear it or turn it off completely.  The problem with this station, however, is no matter how low you think you have it, it’s still loud enough to cause problems, and unless you deal with the messages, you can’t turn it off.  The answer isn’t to minimize it or ignore it.  You have to turn up the volume so you can recognize what’s really being communicated.

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