Powered by Negativity

Foreword

This is probably a post that nobody really wants to read. I've been procrastinating about it since I landed in Perth. That was way more than 100 days ago. It remained in my draft folder among several posts but this one stood out with the distinctively thick growing cob webs around it.

The post is about me. Specifically, why I seem to be a "Negative Person" to people I meet, how exasperating it is for people who cared about me to try to change my thinking and how this affects me generally in life.

I used to browse blogs now and then when I couldn't get to sleep. Reading about what others said about themselves was a healthier way than organic sleeping pills. Most importantly, it works every time. I'm comfortable in describing my experiences or expressing my opinion on issues but I cringed at the thought of writing about myself.

Oh well if I am to do it, I might as well strive to be the strongest sleeping medicine out there. I'll give it a best shot.

Introduction

They say what doesn't kills you, makes you stronger. 

That's not true. Dementia for example, doesn't kill anyone but it doesn't make any victim stronger than before. So goes for getting your limbs amputated, blindness, deafness, breaking your spinal cord, losing your beloved ones etc.

Generic positive thinkers will insist it does make one stronger and that depends on his attitude and reaction towards the bad situation. If the victim didn't take that bad experience well enough, he is labelled as negative. If he recovers well above anyone's expectations, he is regarded as an inspiration. In reality, no one wants to be in their 'inspirer's' shoes in such cases. Positive thinkers and their hypocrisy.

History

I had played a lot of computer games in my life. Not close to any game geeks for sure, but enough for me to understand myself more by analysing the similar choices and actions I did for every game, from a kid to an adult.

Since I was a kid, I noticed I had very different preferences to my friends in the characters I would choose to represent myself. Every boy in the village would love to be the knight in shining armor. Or the brave tough as steel barbarian. Good aligned, lawful, order, justice. The closest I had convinced myself to play was 'neutral' because the other option was 'evil'. I did not like the sound of evil though I wanted to take the choice. I preferred to call it 'dark'.

I tried to play mainstream characters but it didn't work out. I started off as a knight but I soon realised I really didn't like it. I played the mage and sorceress and found it ok. It was only in Diablo II, I was introduced to the necromancer and it fitted me to perfection. From then I never looked back. I was completely at ease with the necromancer in Guildwars as well.

My friends teased me several times about Guildwars. I had almost played the entire game for years with only the necromancer despite being given 8 character slots. All these years, my friends stood in front of me in every game we played in, bashing and holding the line. I was always behind, crafting devastating dark powers. Without them, I couldn't survive. Without me, they wouldn't last very long either.

We had the same goal but we achieved it in different strokes, different styles.

In reality, I often have very different perspective to my friends. It was frustrating for my friends to bear with my contrarian views as much as it was for me to gain acceptance. I was seldom taken seriously for. The vex lasted until I grew to understand why. Like in the virtual world, I wasn't the main stream. I had been told I am a pessimist, negative person, an introvert throughout my whole life.

Discovery

I didn't change. Not because I didn't try or didn't see the need to. In fact I tried to be a positive bright character most of my life that I was unhappy most of the time trying to do so. Only during the last couple of years I realised and finally accepted who I am - a 'negative person'. Just that negativity meant differently to me.

This may sound baffling for many. I found that negativity and positivity have nothing to do with happiness. A negative pessimist can be happy and a positive optimist can be unhappy. I discovered negativity has its purposes and importance. It also has the same power like positivity if one harnesses it correctly.

The symbol, yin and yang bears great significant to life. The balancing forces counteract each other to form an equilibrium. Too much of either the light or dark is not beneficial. The key is to learn to control either entity and know where to place its use. Both positivity and negativity have the power to create and destroy.

However, positive thinking is more popular and society values it for strange reasons, condemning negativity to something to be frown upon, resulting in negativity a much harder element to master. In reality, many of these 'positive thinkers' are blind followers who memorise the principles but not truly understanding the essence. When trained, both have the same powers to optimally run one's life and neither of them are inferior to each other. Never neglect either.

Happiness

Everyone knows about positive thinking so I'm not going into that. As a negative thinking person in practice, I point out the imperfection with a product, a project, a system, a government, a country and mostly relevantly, my life. A well trained (not implying that I am) negative thinker anticipate set backs, danger and avoid them most of the time.

My friends urged me to 'think positive' because they felt and thought I was unhappy, thus I 'complain'. What they didn't know is that I am rarely unhappy when I pointed things out. I'm seldom affected emotionally about what I share. The 'positive thinkers', however are affected by me - the Bringer of Bad News. They could be adversely affected by my negativity that I am immune to and got real annoyed. I learnt this the hard way and kept my big mouth shut whenever I could.

Where happiness is concerned as I said earlier, I do not believe a positive person is necessarily happier than a negative person. The key lies somewhere else, which I hope I can share in another post in the near future.

I've seen peers obviously disgusted about overcrowding in the MRT, traffic jams on the roads and the disability to afford starting a family and still trying to find something positive to say about it or changing their ways to think about it. By channeling the unhappiness into a barrier-less realm and hope that it would miraculously convert it to happiness, it will simply creep back into your life eventually in the same form. 

This is not positive thinking. This is delusion and short changing yourself.

Before I left Singapore, I thought I would be happier if I moved to Australia. I wasn't wrong. But it was  neither migration nor Australia which made me happy, contrary to what I initially assumed. Instead, the move gave me an opportunity to discover a little about how happiness works. Perhaps many people already discovered many more keys to happiness but I'll still want to write something about it as a continuation of this post. That'll be another day.

Conclusion

I am happier than before but as far as I'm concerned about my negativity, nothing's changed. I'm going to be misunderstood all my life. For eg. My friends still think I'm angry whenever I wrote something negative about Singapore. In reality, I have never been. If I were to tell you that, more than often, I was grinning when I wrote my articles, will you believe it? I call it dark humor.

Not quite funny to positive white knights out there, I understand.

34 comments:

  1. You are happier now because you had a dream, pursued it and achieved it.

    That's why people who write about happiness always say to chase your dream(s).

    Stay hungry, stay foolish.

    P.S. You need a different set of friends. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi bro. I can do with more friends but I don't need to change the set of friends. They are part of me. Like the chinese say: I won't 'have today' if not for them.

      I'm as flawed as they are.

      Delete
    2. I refer you to this post:

      http://singaporeactually.com/2012/01/11/my-terrible-thoughts-about-friendship/

      My remark on you needing a different set of friends was made in jest, but if your friends sound a bit like hers then perhaps you might want to reconsider...!

      But yes, everyone is flawed. However, we don't need our 'friends' to project their flaws onto us.

      The chinese also used to say if you can pick it up, you can put it down. ;)

      Delete
  2. Perhaps another thing for you to write about:

    Now that you have achieved this ‘dream’ of migrating, do you feel empty or lost?

    Migrating is possibly the biggest event to happen in one’s life, and if you have been dreaming and planning for it, what happens after you’ve achieved it? As a ‘negative’ person, did you plan for it?

    If you’re a football player and you win the World Cup after dreaming about it since when you were 5 years old, what happens next? What do you do?

    You might not have reached that stage yet, and perhaps you never will. And that’s because you’ll be looking to get a better job, your own house and of course being a dad to Albany.

    For some people like myself, I started feeling down the moment I received the application approved letter from Immigration. I was much much happier after I moved, but there were plenty times when I asked myself ‘what’s next’?

    So I gave myself new dreams to chase. Always wanted to visit Machu Picchu. Been there done that. Easter Island? Yup, left a few farts there as a mark. Next up, Antarctica this November before the end of the world. I would have done all 7 continents then.

    After that, what?

    The moon perhaps?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Migration has never been my dream. I know a Singaporean via this blog. He told me he has been thinking about migration since he was 14.

      No way, i told him. As true as an arrow he said.

      Mine wasn't anything like that. I wanted to achieve my dream of a peaceful slow life having time to have a game of chess with my old friends after dinner.

      Migration has not yet fulfill my dreams but it may in future, at least for the first half of it. the 2nd half of it, unfortunately have been shattered the moment i stepped out of singapore.

      i'm happy for you that you kept achieving dream after dream. i've never achieve a single one in my life. hopefully in future.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, can tell from your postings that migration is not a dream.

      Is that Singaporean relatively young? I started thinking about migration when I was 18, after an overseas internship stint.

      I then spent more than 10 years trying to get out. The first 5 years groping in the dark about how to migrate, the following 5 years executing the plan that will enable me to migrate. Yeah, I could have saved some time by going to a immigration consultant, but I had no $$$ at that time.

      It's tough to have dreams (and achieve them) once you become a parent, unless of course your dreams has something to do with your child. :)

      Thank you. I'm sure you'll start to achieve your dreams once you get round to defining what they are. Nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough!

      Delete
    3. I remember from one of your postings you would like to create and build a self-sustaining business of some sort ya?

      Perhaps it's time you start doing up your business plan? We don't have much time left; 11 months and 5 days till the end of the world! ;)

      Delete
    4. I don't know how to do a business plan. Do you?

      Delete
    5. No I don't, sorry. Never had much business experience! You probably have more experience through your mum's stall than me!

      I do know you don't need a business plan if you don't need investor's $$$. But it's good to write down some sort of plan to focus your thoughts and directions...

      Delete
    6. Let me figure something. I'll share if i ever get started?

      Delete
  3. i get that too..label as unhappy when i reply un happy things....but i was just being cynical...as time passes they complain i dun say anything anymore...hiaz hard to please

    ReplyDelete
  4. http://www.bemindful.org/darkemotions.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. it looks like a great link. but it's fucking long. i wanna sleep after a few sentences of it. can summarise?

      Delete
    2. Hello good sir,

      I just wanted to highlight how the author, a psychotherapist, hits the nail on the head when she talks about society's unhealthy aversion to normal human emotions that it views as "negative".

      "Emotions like grief, fear and despair are as much a part of the human condition as love, awe and joy. They are our natural and inevitable responses to existence, so long as loss, vulnerability and violence come with the territory of being human. These are the dark emotions, but by dark, I don't mean that they are bad, unwholesome or pathological. I mean that as a culture we have kept these emotions in-'the dark-shameful, secret and unseen.

      "Emotion-phobia dissociates us from the energies of these emotions and tells us they are untrustworthy, dangerous and destructive. Like other traits our culture distrusts and devalues-vulnerability, for instance, and dependence-emotionality is associated with weakness, women and children. We tend to regard these painful emotions as signs of psychological fragility, mental disorder or spiritual defect. We suppress, intellectualize, judge or deny them. We may use our spiritual beliefs or practices to bypass their reality."

      She then goes on to talk about how society categorizes these "negative" emotions as some sort of illness to be treated or problem to be solved.

      "As for despair, how many among us have not experienced periods of feeling empty, desolate, hopeless, brooding over the darkness in our world? This is the landscape of despair. Judging from my thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist, I would say that despair is common, yet we don't speak of despair anymore. We speak of clinical depression, serotonin-deficiency, biochemical disorder and the new selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors. We treat the "illness" with a host of new medications. In my view, "depression" is the word we use in our highly medicalized culture for a condition of chronic despair-despair that is stuck in the body and toxified by our inability to bear it mindfully. When we think of all despair as a mental disorder or a biochemical illness, we miss the spiritual metamorphosis to which it calls us."

      Finally, she concludes the passage by advocating that we overcome social stigma, and accept these "negative" emotions, both in ourselves as well as in others, as but another aspect of the human experience, in order to learn from them and be a better person.

      "When we look deeply into the dark emotions in our lives, we find both the universality of suffering and how much suffering is unnecessary, the result of social inequities, oppression, large scale violence and trauma. Our awareness both of the universality of suffering and of its socially created manifestations is critical to the healing journey. Knowing how our grief, fear and despair may be connected to larger emotional currents and social conditions de-pathologizes these emotions, allowing us to accept and tolerate them more fruitfully, and with more compassion for ourselves and others. We begin to see the dark emotions as messengers, information-bearers and teachers, rather than "negative" energies we must subdue, tame or deny. We tend to think of our "negative" emotions as signs that there's something wrong with us. But the deepest significance of the feelings is simply our shared human vulnerability. When we know this, we begin to heal in a way that connects us rather than separates us from the world."

      I apologise if that was still too long and/or technical. In my own words, I feel that the author is trying to impress upon us that each and every one of us is a product of our own unique history, and to deny any part of it is to deny being human. After all, how can we truly know happiness if we have not personally experienced and understood despair?

      Perhaps you could quote from the passage whenever your friends try to convince you that life is one big wank session.

      Leon

      Delete
    3. P.S.- As a Singaporean who, studied and worked in Australia for four years, returned to Singapore, regretted returning to Singapore, and is going back next month for round two, your time in Perth, as catalogued in this blog, interests me greatly.

      Delete
  5. I guess there is no one way to happiness. Too negative means one will never climb Mt. Everest. Too positive may mean dying in Mt. Everest by going inadequately prepared.

    However, in recent years, excessive positiveness, although good in many situations,forces us to overlook or excuse a lot of bad stuff like mistakes, incompetence and plain stupidity.
    Don't complain, make use of thier strengths, don't criticise, let's move on.....

    As for migration, I don't see it as a dream. I wonder if there is a place I can call a dream to migrate to.

    I would like to think of migration as a journey. Another journey, a different journey. You choose the journey, you make the journey. I've chosen Australia because I believe one has more choices here. For my wife and me, my children and, maybe, my childrens' children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. lucky u made the choice to come to australia, if not i no friend liao.

      i made the move because i felt there are more choices here too. and it's for my children's future as well, definitely. how long more can i live only? it's definitely for my children..

      Delete
  6. "Positive thinkers and their hypocrisy."

    definitely made my day there.

    i'd add that they do not think beyond the initial emotional content of their words, and they do usually have good intentions, so in this sense they're forgivable for being short sighted. some, anyway.

    i'm also known as a fussy person prone to picking out flaws n cracks in any given discussion. as a result i guess, ppl tend to think i'm a negative fellow.

    so i think i totally get what ur trying to say here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you must be a grumpy old man like me.
      if you are young chio bu, people will call you playing hard to get that's all. heh heh

      Delete
  7. leon: i appreciate your effort. Thanks a lot. I've learnt something new. It's a much better post than mine itself. I realised i discovered the importance of negativity by feel but this article explained why in techinical depth.

    @anonymous jan 17: thank you my friend. Im glad my posts provided some info to you. Which state r u moving to?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "anonymous jan 17" is me actually. Moving to Melbourne. Maybe I'll share my experiences in a blog and become famous like you did. Heh.

      Delete
    2. ah Leon, why don't u continue the blog and i retire?
      You're also a Singaporeanson in Australia. Technically correct.

      Delete
  8. Replies
    1. buy and never play, still dare to say :)

      Delete
  9. I strongly believe that it's all right to be a defensive pessimist, even if that sounds different from what 'everyone' is saying.

    http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/05/22/am-i-a-defensive-pessimist/

    My proud badge too, actually.
    So much of my life too.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks Alan, for the link. I've read it and really enjoyed it

    ReplyDelete
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