People’s thoughts and feelings are skewed by what we might call negative influence, which is our tendency to respond more strongly to negative events and feelings than positive ones. However, the strange thing, if we look from another angle, is that when we hear a mixture of praise and criticism, we scrutinise the criticism and perhaps it appeals to the person instead of enjoying the praise.
Thus a defect — if I can say so — or a negative bias does not often distort our perspective and behaviour. Rather, we must be aware that a minor conflict can have dire consequences when the force of abuse overwhelms your judgment and thus provokes you for actions that may increase the alienation of your friend or a relative. Therefore, you can be better off using your rational thought to override your irrational impulses!
Interestingly, here in some way especially in relationships, the negative influence exacerbates the faults of your friend or life partner for instance, whether they are real or imagined, starting with their disdain for continuous support, because you also favour your inner confidence and the excess that amplifies your strengths. You wonder how your partner or relative could be so selfish or (blind!) about your virtues — about everything you did for them. Perhaps deep inside, you are thinking about one of life’s most infuriating mysteries: Why don’t they appreciate me?
Nevertheless, the truth here is that we look at relationships, regardless of the place or with whom: in your work, in your home, or among your family members, to realise that it is not the good and constructive things that those close to you do or do not do to each other, can determine whether the relationship work, as much as the destructive things they do or do not do in response to the problems between you!
Here, if I can take an example, when you hold on to calm for the sake of your partner, your interest is often not even noticed, but when that person silently withdraws from his partner, as the case in marital life or even a friend, you will issue angry threats …And here this could be the beginning of a catastrophic cycle of revenge! Undoubtedly sooner or later, one of them can be negative for so long that the other will start to respond negatively as well. Sadly, when that happens it’s hard to salvage the relationship whatever it is.
On other hand, it is not an exaggeration that negativity is a difficult disease to get rid of and it is highly contagious. If we look at our daily lives how many stories will tell you that when partners or friends are asked separately for instance, to think about aspects of their relationship, they spend more time thinking about the bad than the good… isn’t it? So, in order to get around the bad things, you have to stop that negative sequence before it starts.
Not to mention that every time a friend did a negative act, such as complaining, speaking in a hostile tone and insulting the other — the action was classified and calculated. Perhaps this is another indication that insecure people are more likely to act negatively. Undoubtedly, their fear of rejection or insult exacerbated the distress they felt, because the argument for them was not only about a specific issue, but was a sign of deep problems and even such a relationship was in danger of a period of time. Somehow, you see that a friend or life partner react quickly and negatively to their partner being pushed away.
At the end, most people are not aware of the negative impact on their relationships. I might ask someone, why you think your colleague, friend or even a future life partner would be a good partner. Definitely he /she will list the positive things: like being friendly and understanding and perhaps these things make a difference, but I believe that the important point is to avoid negative things. The fact that you are able to hold your tongue instead of saying something unpleasant or bad will benefit your relationship a lot more than a kind word or action and as you know goodness is only miserable by the tongue… isn’t it!
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, Ministry of Health, is a medical innovator and educator. For any queries regarding the content of the column he can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org