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Confronting negativity

Negative things are often avoided by lots of people. Everybody likes a nice positive story. But it’s strange though, how bad news sells more than good news. Talk to the media houses.

So at least people say to themselves and others that they don’t like negative stuff, but they’re all tanking up on it in secret.

But what do I mean by ‘confronting negativity’? I’m talking more about self-defeating assumptions that lead to an overall avoidance. Take spreadbetting as a fine example. When I glanced at it about ten years ago, I thought to myself “That’s dangerous.. and it’s officially gambling.. I ain’t want anything to do with that!!”. That set of thoughts and sentiments kept me away from looking or learning more. How stupid was I back then? Very. I wish I had taken a deeper look, understood what it was about and how the risks could be managed. I would have been ten years ahead in terms of gaining knowledge and skill, had I bitten at it back then.

Take stock markets: I said to myself things such as, “I ain’t got no money. The little I have I can’t risk. It’s a big club for big gamblers with big money…”. All those assumptions were probably true back then. However the world changed rapidly but my assumptions remained in tact. I held on to an attitude which kept me from exploring.

Or lets move away from trading and markets for a moment. I meet many people who simply refuse to try speech recognition software. They go, “I’ve really tried it a few years ago and it was a difficult nightmare. I’m not impressed. I’ll leave it off.” A single lot of negative experience colours their world view for the future thereby blocking them from further exploration. The world of speech recognition software (and hardware) in fact evolved tremendously and became much better. But you can’t bring people carrying the above attitudes, to get near it again. Individual attitudes change at a much slower rate than realities in the world.

Fear, anxiety and lack of competence (knowledge, skill and experience) also cause us to hold negative perspectives on various things. If you’ve never learned to ride a two wheeled bicycle as a child, come adulthood you would probably delay quite significantly in learning how to ride one. Or take unicycles – how many people are inclined to learn to ride one? Not many, I imagine. They may argue that they don’t ‘need’ to learn to ride one – and that’s fine. But if challenged to ride one, you’d then see all kinds of negative emotions.

I don’t want to go on much more about the above – I think people should have gotten the picture.

Dan Zanger’s story has made me think a lot about negativity and avoidance. If I hadn’t been so negative about learning about trading 10 years ago, today I might have been much better off financially. Zanger was an average guy who put in a hell of an amount of work training his mental muscles. After six long years he acquired the competence to free himself of financial worry and did so! I’m thinking, “If Zanger could – that could have been me too! Why not?!” What I did wrong was, close my mind and adopt a negative attitude. I didn’t explore alternative ways of making it work. Did I need tons of money to get on the same ladder as Zanger? No. I just assumed that I did. I could have found ways of acquiring Zanger’s competence in a risk free environment. But I didn’t because I didn’t look further or deeper. I basically listened to negative sentiment around me and was unconsciously influenced by that.

So the learning lesson for me is, that the things I feel most negative about are the things I need to look closer at. Don’t close doors without fully exploring a thing. I also need to be very careful about negative attitudes I may unknowingly carry. This is not merely about ‘keeping an open mind’.

BTW – I’m not suggesting that people explore taking illegal drugs or cross-dressing – or stuff like that. I’m also not saying that people should explore every scam that comes along. There is a risk that good opportunity may look like a scam when it isn’t. Fear of scams can also lead to negativity and lost opportunity.

Giving up is also about a degree of negativity. If Zanger had said after two years of slogging at it that he couldn’t do it – he simply would not have achieved his success. That’s pretty obvious but it is an important point. What is it that another successful person is doing that you’re not doing, is probably the most important question to ask when giving up comes into the mind. Are they simply a better person than you? Is that a sufficient reason for you? If so, then fine, you quit. If however, you refuse to accept that another person is ‘just better’ than you, then what is it you can do to make yourself as good as them? Find out and do it! What stops you? How many plausible excuses can you make?

In closing, it’s important to understand that negative attitudes are sometimes not easy to spot within one’s self. Why? The most intelligent of people intellectualise their avoidance. They use their intelligence to create a system of logic that justifies why they must delay or not look at something more closely. The main driver of that intellectualisation is therefore well covered up. It is about negative close-minded attitude.

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