Jasmine sat at the restaurant table anxiously awaiting her blind date. She had been set up by her cousin Ava with Ava's coworker Jason. Ava had described him as a guy who was smart, hard-working, and fun. Jasmine had grown weary of the dating scene since most of the guys she'd gone out with lately were shallow and boring. She was looking for a fresh approach and interesting conversation.
Jason walked up to her table and introduced himself with a smile. She immediately felt his warmth and thought this one might actually go better than all the rest. The conversation started easily enough, but Ava felt a shift in the energy between them after about 15 minutes. She couldn't figure it out, but she felt Jason cool down a bit. Eventually the conversation became stilted, and Jason seemed disengaged. Finally he asked her a tough question.
"Do you like yourself?" Jasmine was stunned.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, you've been very negative about who you are so I can't help but wonder if you like yourself."
Jasmine was taken aback and did a quick inventory of what she'd said up to that point. She didn't need to think too hard because Jason ran it down for her.
"I complimented you on your dress, and you said it was old instead of saying 'thank you'. I told you that I'd heard you were a bright lawyer, and you said you hated your job. I told you that I heard you had a great sense of humor, and you told me you can be difficult to deal with at times. So far, all I've heard are negatives from you when I had such high expectations before talking to you."
Jasmine was immediately embarrassed by what he'd said. He was right. She'd said all of those negative things about herself. Worse, she was turning her new date off. She wondered how many of her previous dates soured not because of the guys, but because of her. She'd hardly noticed how negative she was being. It was a blind spot for her.
Likely you've experienced a scenario like this. We've all been around that person who enters a conversation that is meaningful and light and turns it into a dark and difficult exchange. They suck all the life out of the room, and people start looking uncomfortable and fidgety the more the person speaks. Soon folks start finding excuses for why they have to leave. After all, who wants to be around an energy drain like that?
If you've ever been told you can be negative at times, consider your usual language. How often are you diminishing a compliment or being self-deprecating in an effort to appear humble? Maybe you're upset about the way things are going at work, and you talk about it a lot. Do you come across as a whiner? Since this behavior may be a blind spot for you, ask someone who won't hedge in giving you tough feedback. Ask them if you present negatively in most of your comments. If you discover that you do, then it's time for accountability.
Now that you know, what will you do to change the habit? It's as simple as replacing the degrading attitude, the negative thinking, and the complaining conversation with a brighter outlook. It's about tuning in to the sound of your own voice, and paying close attention to your thoughts. When your thoughts wander into that old territory of dissatisfaction, then S.H.I.F.T.--Speak Hope Instead of Failing Talk. SHIFT your thinking and your language. It takes skill and patience with yourself, but it can be done.
If you need help in how to SHIFT your attitude, call us at (803) 622-4511 or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help.