I don’t know about you but handling negativity and complaining from people who you are especially close with, is a challenge that both I and my guest Jonathan Darling have struggled with for a long time and in my conversation with Jonathan he expresses his frustration when encountering people who constantly focus on everything falling apart without taking action to change it.
We have both learned, through conscious personal growth and working on ourselves first to approach such situations with grace and understanding and recognising that people operate at different levels of consciousness. I solely believe that we are all operating from the highest level of consciousness that we can in each moment, and this understanding has changed how I handle such situations.
Jonathan shares his belief that we have the power to choose our outlook on the future, and either choose to focus on what could go wrong or what could go right. He believes anxiety, worry, and fear create the habit of creating stories about the future filled with negativity. He has compassion with this pessimistic mindset while also believing it is a choice and that it is crucial to recognise the importance of choosing a more positive attitude and outlook.
We discuss the importance of giving grace and meeting people where they are, especially those who may not fully understand or have the ability to choose a more positive perspective at the moment. Jonathan reflects on his own desire for others to see the world through a more optimistic lens while understanding the importance of empathy and understanding of others instead of judgment. He believes that by recognising and acknowledging the gifts and potential in others, he can extend grace and support them on their own journey.
Jonathan suggests that sharing personal stories and experiences can be powerful in helping others overcome difficult situations and that positivity, just like negativity, is contagious, and by embodying positivity and love, we can inspire and guide others to shift their mindset.
He shares his perspective on dealing with negative people, explaining that when we are consistently positive and do not engage in others’ negativity, they will seek out someone else who will indulge in their misery. This builds on the idea that like attracts like, and if we want to live a more optimistic and positive life, to seek it out. We can be empathetic and meet them where they are, without allowing their negativity to bring us down by consciously choosing where we spend the majority of our time.
We then focus more on the topic of optimism and how we respond to challenging situations. Jonathan shares his personal experience of being an optimist and how he navigates moments of difficulty. He shares the importance of introspection and not allowing negative emotions to overflow onto others. We both believe in always seeing the light, even in dark times, and maintaining faith and trust. It’s not just about being positive or negative, but rather focusing on taking action and addressing situations head-on. This is what it means to be an optimist and a practical optimist at that!
Being positive, or negative comes down to our individual sense of reality which is subjective because we individually create our own reality based on our beliefs and attitudes. We agree on the need to avoid extremes and find a balanced mindset where we are focused on doing what needs to be done without being overly positive or negative. Jonathan shared that the ‘truth’ is often found in the middle ground and encourages us to come back to this perspective.
In the final part of our conversation, we reflect on the power of choice in shaping our lives. Jonathan shares that even in challenging situations, we have a choice in how we show up and respond. He shares a story about Victor Frankel, who maintained a positive attitude and found meaning even in the dire circumstances of a Nazi concentration camp and recommends his book Man’s Search for Meaning which tells this story. Jonathan challenges the idea that being positive means ignoring the negative, and how it’s about choosing an attitude and mindset while acknowledging and addressing the challenges. Choosing a positive attitude just feels better, and I tend to agree with him. By choosing a positive attitude and mindset we can take control of our choices and not become victims of our circumstances.