Counselor's Corner: Freedom from negativity

Fred Cavaiani

Have you ever been in a restaurant and watched a patron become angry and critical toward a waitress or a waiter? It is as if nothing in the restaurant would ever please this patron. As their voice becomes louder, you begin to feel empathy for the server. Remember the time you may have been driving a little too slow and the person behind you kept pushing on the horn and then passed you and sent you a gesture with their finger and it was not a thumbs up gesture? Have you told another person something you thought was exciting and they said the opposite of what you expected? You feel no rapport with this person at this moment. Each of us has experienced people who seem to be immersed in negativity. Negativity of mind is a well we all fall into at times.

The communication media thrives on negativity. Listen or watch the news at any moment and you will experience negativity. The media is filled with the latest crime or catastrophe. It captures readers, viewers and listeners.

Our minds are filled with what is wrong with the world. There are no aspects of life that are free from negativity. We can detach ourselves from the dangerous neighborhood of negativity by making a choice to do so. Right at this moment look around you and see what is good in the people around you. Look for the goodness in the things of your world. Be grateful for what you have at this moment. Be full of thanks for your existence at this very second.
There are no victims in life, only volunteers after we have come out of childhood. Do not see yourself as a victim. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life. It is not what is going on outside of ourselves that is the cause for our happiness. It is what is going on inside of ourselves that brings us happiness.

It is very easy to get into a mind set of negativity. Sometimes we hold disappointments and frustrations with such intensity that we seem to immerse our whole being in this dark attitude.

Why does this happen?

Negativity is very clear and concrete. It becomes easy to see. A negative feeling becomes an emotional experience that sets the body into a whirlwind of feeling. We can relate to negativity with a critical and connecting conversation with other people who want to connect with us in this negative attitude. People often unite with each other talking about a third person. We can unite a whole country by finding a common enemy though our perceptions which may not be based on fact. This was done in Germany in the 30a and 40s when Hitler united a country seeing Jews as a threat to the Fatherland. It was done here in the 50s when Communism was perceived as a threat to our way of life. It is done today through our fears about terrorism. Negativity is based on fear which is false evidence appearing as real. The more fearful we become the more negative we can express ourselves.
Negative attitudes become more popular than positive attitudes because in my negativity I become almost more energized and passionate.

When there are a group of people gathered together in conversation sometimes the conversation centers around someone who isn’t there and what is wrong with that person, institution, political viewpoint or party. It seems to be part of our DNA to converse critically. There is spiritual gossip, political gossip, emotional gossip, and social gossip. Most gossip is based on perceptions which are believed to be absolutely true by the person speaking. Gossip is basically prejudice. Pre-judging without knowing the facts. But it is so easy to do.

Have you ever met a person who consistently looks for the good in everyone and everything? Seeing goodness in everyone and embracing a positive attitude about all aspects of life is not always so energizing. It becomes difficult to converse consistently in a positive and loving manner. Finding goodness in people and seeing hope all around us doesn’t make good press. It isn’t that energizing or passionate because it doesn’t attract that many followers on a consistent basis. Why? We are afraid it might work. We are also afraid to take the chance of seeing good news all around us. People will think we are delusional if we don’t face the reality of disappointment which is just around the corner. Debate seems easier than dialogue. Seeing gloom is easier than seeing bloom.

I am convinced that the world changes for the better when people talk about the better in hopeful and loving ways. We trust negativity much more than we trust hope. We trust being critical much more than we trust being loving.
It is easy to bemoan the spiritual, emotional, political and social maladies of modern life. It is difficult to appreciate the spiritual, emotional, political and social benefits of modern life. We live in a dysfunctional culture where the parents are always telling us what is wrong with our lives rather than telling us what is good about us.

To be positive is to become consistently peaceful and loving. To see goodness everywhere may not seem exciting at first because it is so pleasantly peaceful which is difficult to trust. Yet, try to be pleasantly optimistic, loving and hopeful in your arena of life. See hope and love everywhere. See goodness in everyone and everything. Express this hope and love. Imagine what could happen. When we make a positive decision to say yes to life and love, to hope and optimism, we began to send a beautiful positive attitude into the world that will subtly penetrate the attitude of negativity and change it into positive dialogue and energy. Make the decision and discover a peaceful, loving life.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage and family therapist and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center , and Henry Ford Medical Center. He conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeastern Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at (248)362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is