How often have you heard someone say that:
It’s going to be a nightmare.
And invariably it is. Because we create our future with our thoughts and our words.
If you think it’s going to be a nightmare, whatever it is, the Universe will try its darnedest to deliver on what you want. So you’ll end up having your nightmare.
Be careful what you wish for…
When we get together, as family, as friends, our conversations tend to go one of two ways: We either talk about things we like, or we talk about things we don’t like.
More often we talk about things we don’t like, because that’s easier. And it’s more fun. We like to gossip, or run someone down, or tell everyone about someone really awful who did something really bad to us.
And what happens is this – others around us join in, and they try to top our story with their own story of someone even more awful that did something even worse to them.
We do it ourselves. We love to up the ante with our own stories of misfortune. Or stories about someone really horrible.
We gain strength in belittling someone else. At least, we think we do.
Most conversations about politics aren’t about what a great job the government is doing, but about what a terrible job they’re doing. Most conversations about politicians aren’t about what good hard working people they are, but what incompetent self-serving fools they are.
We tend to default to the negative.
I noticed, when I was making tv commercials, a phenomenon that I’ve since encountered elsewhere. It has to do with where power lies within a group of people.
You’d make a thirty second tv commercial, and then you’d have to show it to a boardroom full of agency people and clients. For a director such as myself, it was always a terrifying ordeal. Because so much money had been spent on the ad, and so much more would be spent on buying media time.
There was a lot at stake.
And so you’d show the ad – and there’d be silence around the boardroom. And then someone would ask to see it again. And so you’d show it again. And then there’d be more silence. And then eventually, some brave soul would proffer an opinion.
It’s not bad, they’d say. They wouldn’t have the nerve to say it’s good, but they’d say it’s not bad. But then having broken the ice, others would join in and agree, and say: Yes, in fact it’s quite good. And someone else would agree, and before you know it it’s the best ad they’ve made all year, and most probably will be a finalist at Cannes. And then they’d start to clamour for credit for the good work.
And then someone in the corner would quietly say: No, we have to recut it. It’s too slow. And our product isn’t on the screen for long enough. It’s a mess.
And then everyone would murmur and agree that yes, it was a mess, and yes, it was too slow, and yes, the product wasn’t on the screen long enough. These were the very people that only moments ago were proclaiming that it was going to win prizes at Cannes.
And so I discovered this:
That power lies with the most negative person in the room.
And so it is with our conversations in coffee shops, at dinner parties, at a bar. We derive pleasure from wallowing in the negative. Because it draws attention to us. Those around us feel sorry for us, and coo their sympathies. Or they applaud us, and think we’ve got balls for standing up for our rights. Or telling that dickhead that they were a dickhead.
It’s a habit that’s very easy to get into.
But interestingly, you rarely hear these kind of negative conversations on the Camino. You hear people talking about what a wonderful day they just had. Or about the amazing person they just met. Or how a stranger was so kind to them…
As I say, it’s a very easy trap to fall into – slipping into conversations that accentuate the negative. Next time you find yourself doing it, step back and ask yourself: Can I change this around and say something positive?
Try it, and see what happens…