Home page Psychology blog Self-Development Moral and Ethical Values What to do when things go bad, or how to deal with negativism?

What to do when things go bad, or how to deal with negativism?

23.08.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“For the last three years, I’ve been constantly in some kind of negative mindset. It scares me and complicates my life. My work and my relationship with my husband also suffer.

The thoughts spinning in my mind are all pessimistic— that I will not succeed, I cannot do this, the world is against me. The worst thing is that the negative attitude is directed not only at some circumstances but also at the people around them. I think bad of everyone, I suspect everyone of all mortal sins. My husband and I lived with his parents for a while. When I came home, my mother-in-law always greeted me with a smile, and I was angry that she was disturbing me with foolish questions. But she just wanted us to have a good relationship. As a result, now my mother-in-law hardly talks to me. I understand why.

Relationship with my husband is breaking apart. We’re always fighting about little things. When we quarrel about something, somewhere deep down I know that I am wrong, but I spitefully continue to insist on my version of events to the bitter end.

I don’t dream about moving up the career ladder, although I work in a large company. Relationships with colleagues are shaky, the management does not like to entrust me with large projects. However, I understand my co-workers, as well as my mother-in-law; I’m hard to get on with. I rarely can communicate normally with someone, and I am prone to making caustic remarks.

I don’t have many friends. I’ve lost those that I’ve had since the days of the university. My mood swings and rudeness alienates people.

I need to change my behavior and move away from negative mindset, but I don’t know how to do that.”

– Olga, 30

Why are some people lucky and surrounded by a wide range of friends, while others communicate with difficulty with the outside world? The problem often lies not in extraneous circumstances, but in the person’s behavior. Normal existence in society is hindered by a negative attitude towards everyone and everything around. It has a destructive power. In the article, we will talk about negativism. How does it manifest itself? How to learn to look positively at the world?


How negativism ruins life

How negativism ruins life

Negativism in psychology is human behavior, manifested by a tendency to oppose other people and external circumstances. The following signs will allow you to determine the presence of this condition:

  • sharply hostile attitude towards people with a different mindset;
  • rough and hard communication even with family members;
  • skepticism and distrust of everyone around;
  • stubbornness and unwillingness to compromise;
  • constant oppressive thoughts about the imperfection of the world;
  • the habit of immersing yourself in a problem instead of finding a way to solve it;
  • hidden or open aggression. [2]

It seems that every stubborn person can be called a negativist. But that’s not entirely true. Stubbornness is often a response to resentment and is only “temporary.” That is, it is easy to argue with the stubborn person, the main thing is to find the right arguments. The negativist is convinced in his personal beliefs, he really thinks that the world is deeply flawed and enemies are everywhere. His behaviour sometimes does not fit into the framework of generally accepted norms. He comes athwart even when it doesn’t make any sense.

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What are the consequences of symptoms of negativism? This condition has a destructive force:

  1. Failure to succeed

A person, opposing the world, comes into conflict with themselves. Gradually, they cease to be reasonable entirely – they cannot understand what they need and what is useful for them. For such a person it is almost impossible to achieve success in any of their endeavors.

  1. Learned helplessness

Negativism leads to passivity. A man sets himself to the fact that he/she will not succeed. He stops trying to do anything because he does not believe in his strength. It is easier for such a person to wallow in the gloomy melancholy and senseless reflection. The negativist is passive both in decision-making and in achieving their goals.

  1. Isolation

The negativist is convinced that there are only hypocrites and liars around. He believes that he cannot trust anyone, cannot rely on anyone. Gradually, such a person ceases to trust even his inner circle of friends. The result is complete isolation. But loneliness does not save anyone, only cultivates numerous internal fears and emotional stress.

Reasons for negativism

Reasons for negativism

According to psychologists, protest and negativism are external armor, which covers deep personal problems. To correct the situation, it is important to correct exactly that mindset that provokes rudeness and sharpness in communication. The reasons for the negative attitude to the outside world include the following:

  • timidity and self-doubt,
  • complexes about the appearance or financial situation,
  • inability to be independent,
  • weak willpower, and
  • guilt. [2]

Types of negativism

In psychology, there are 2 forms of manifestation of negativism — passive and active. Each form has its peculiarities. [1]

Passive negativism

This is a form of behavior that manifests in total disregard of other people’s requests or demands. Of course, they hear and understand everything, but intentionally do nothing of what the other person asks.

Active negativism

This is a form of human behavior in which a person sharply expresses their resistance in response to any attempts at external influence on them. They are extremely harsh and do not try to hide their negative attitude to what is happening. Often a person acts contrary to what they were asked to do.

Features of negativism in children

негативизм у детей

Negativism in children is a natural and inevitable stage of personal development. It usually manifests itself in crisis age periods. The first time – at 2-4 years, then – at 6-7 years. Negativism in the child is manifested by whims, reluctance to learn, mood swings and unmotivated sadness.

According to psychologists, a distinctive feature of children’s negativism is that the reasons for its appearance always lie in external circumstances. Due to the immaturity of the personality, the child does not realize what he is doing, emotions and desires rule him. Of course, the kid behaves badly not for the sake of a quarrel with mom and dad. For him, negativism becomes a way of protecting his “self”, a convenient tool for manipulation, a desire to show his true attitude to the demands of adults. [3]

Psychologists identify 2 main causes of negative manifestations in the activity of a child:

  • inconsistency in parenting methods in adults;
  • inattention on the part of adults to the needs of the child. [3]

Regardless of the causes of negativism in a child, his bad behavior is a signal for parents. They need to analyze whether their ways of parenting are effective, whether they express enough love.

If negativism is not constructively overcome by middle school age, it will become an irreversible development trend.

Features of negativism in teenagers

Negativism is the main symptom of a teenage crisis. A child who has until recently been calm and obedient becomes irritable, rude and withdrawn.

Teenage negativism is the child’s desire to declare to the whole world that he is already an adult and can make decisions for himself. Faced with a lack of understanding of adults due to his small life experience, he simply does not know how to adequately get out of conflicts and defend his point of view. It results in quarrels, resentments, boycotts against parents and friends. By showing obstinacy and perseverance teenager tries to mask numerous fears and complexes. [4]

It is important not to leave the child alone with his/her bipolar world, where only good and evil rule with a complete lack of half-tones. Negativism in adolescents disappears as they grow up and accumulate life experience. With the help of parents, the child should learn to “negotiate” with himself and look at the world more positively.

Features of negativism in adults

negativism in adults

Some adults, despite the experience gained in life, do not cease to be negativists. They say “no’ to the world because of deep personal problems, demonstrating their stubbornness and pessimism.

According to psychologists, negativity in adults escalates during unsuccessful periods. It can be a problem at work or in the family. Negative mood manifests itself in behavior, in the style of communication and views on life. It seems to a person that everything around him suppresses his individuality. Such a person tries to do everything “not like others.” [4]

It is difficult to have a constructive dialogue with convinced negativists. Over time, the inner circle tries to minimize communication with the pessimist. Left without friends, a person tries to find common ground with people close in spirit – other negativists. Naturally, this only complicates the situation.

Psychologists’ recommendations: how to become more positive

The fight against expressed negativism is difficult, and first step is recognizing the existing problem and understanding the causes of its occurrence. Think about what pushed you into the abyss of pessimism — financial difficulties, failures in love, difficult relationship with husband/wife? For the most part, the depth of the existing problem depends on the spirit with which a person approaches the solution of it.

In the fight against the signs of negativity, psychologists advise changing attitude to the world around. The following tips will help you:

  1. Focus on the good things

It is important to stop seeing everything in black. This is what cultivates negativism. Try to focus on the good things existing in your life. When catching yourself on negative thoughts, stop. Don’t let them linger in your head.

Start small — try to find at least one positive point in any situation that takes you out of balance. Over time this will become a habit and you will stop thinking about each problem as hopeless.

  1. Don’t say anything at all if you can’t say something good

Negativists can be very rude, which repels people. It is important to learn to conduct a “normal” dialogue without sharp criticism and insults with each interlocutor — housemates, colleagues and friends.

You won’t be able to change the style of communication quickly. Start with the simplest thing — if you can’t tell the other person something good, productive or useful, just keep quiet.

  1. Do things you enjoy

Try to keep a diary where you plan pleasant things. In the list of daily tasks, leave yourself time for hobbies that bring pleasure, soothe and relax. The more positive moments in your life there are the better.

  1. Give yourself the right to make mistakes

Negativists are very sensitive to the mistakes made. Any problem seems to them the “end of the world.”

Try to look at problems from a different angle. Give yourself the right to make mistakes. It is important to understand that failures are natural, they temper and motivate.

How to become cheerful with the 7Spsy behavior modification technique

Negativism and stubbornness are manifested as character traits or situational reactions to external factors. It is a learned model of behavior that encourages a person to see everything through the prism of dark glasses. If you can’t become an optimist by yourself, don’t miss the moment when you can still stop the destructive work of negativism.

The 7Spsy behavior modification technique course has proven itself useful in the fight against negative attitudes. The program is based on the scientific theories of I.P. Pavlov, B.F. Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky, etc.

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The training will help you to change the established behavior pattern, which cultivates a negative attitude to the world. The course is aimed at acquiring a positive mindset. They will help to understand how unproductive pessimism is and will give you self-confidence in solving problems.

The 7Spsy Behavior modification technique training is designed for up to 6 weeks. It’s a quick path for personal development. Negativism will give up its positions, giving way to optimism and cheerfulness. The training is confidential — you won’t have to tell the loved ones that you’re working with a psychologist if you do not want to. The experts would communicate with you by phone, e-mail and through online chats.


  1. «Bol`shoj psixologicheskij slovar`», 2005 g., B. Meshheryakov.
  2. «Protestnaya aktivnost` lichnosti: sushhnost`, dinamika, transformaciya», 2013 g., A. Sh. Gusejnov.
  3. «Detskij negativizm: priznaki i prichiny` ego proyavleniya» (zhurnal «Nauchny`j dialog», 2013 g., №8), T. P. Klejnikova.
  4. «Psixologiya vozrastny`x krizisov: Uchebnoe posobie», 2000 g., K. N. Polivanova.