Imagine a perfect life good health,a loving spouse,financial security and a fulfilling job. Now imagine being overwhelmed by this and mucking it up. A person who is addicted to negativity does this on a moment-to-moment basis.
In psychobabble, explains clinical psychologist Salma Prabhu,The Histrionic Personality Disorder (HPD) is a personality type that seeks attention,and more often than not,it is negative attention through methodologies that are loud and often irritating.
The need to seek attention is very strong in most individuals,and when they dont get it through a positive channel,they try a negative source.Like all things behaviour,this too has itsrootsinyourchildhood.Prabhuexplains how this behavior is formed and how to wean off it.
At the risk of generalising,it can be said that Indian parents are embarrassed to praise their children,but quick to reprimand them. Social gatherings provide an audience for mychild-does-not-eat-anything kind of discussions.
Even the absence of undesirable behaviour is good behaviour. For example : A.A child notices a cake and asks for it politely = Good behavior B.Child repeatedly asks for cake,increasing being insistent each time = Bad behavior C.Child sits around the cake,but does not notice it = Also good behavior.
Any kind of attention negative or positive conditions the mind to behave in a certain way again.In extremesituations,achildalsoconsiders a beating as a way of getting attention andwillrepeatedlygetintosuchsituations without fear of a tight whack.The link can be formed as early as when you are six to seven months old.
Prabhu gives an example of a typical starting point for conditioning of negative attention.Imagine a breakfast scenario: The father is having his tea behind a newspaper;the mother is in the kitchen;and the baby is playing on the floor.
The baby gets bored because no one has noticed it for a while.It looks around and notices an empty cup on the table and pulls it to the floor.A ruckus ensues: Both parents exclaim loudly and rush to the baby.The little babys brain links breaking a cup to getting attention and hugs.
It can also stem from the birth of a sibling,parental discord,monetary problems, lack of physical closeness andwarmthduringchildhoodamong other factors.
Spot the difference
If this conditioning continues into adulthood,you have a person who thinks only bad things happen to him or her,and unwittingly goes out of her or his way to make them happen.You can grow up insecure and convinced that nothing good can ever happen to you.
Thenyoumeetanicewoman or man who is positive and upbeat.Since this is unfamiliar,youdonttrustitandkeepcreating situations to exasperate and anger him or her till they lash out.Eventually it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,if the person leaves you you knew good things dont last.
Negativity seekers are not fun to be around and that makes them unpopular.This also makes their behaviour stronger as isolation is the reaction they were hoping for in the first place.Whats more insidious is that because this behaviour stems from very primal and close relationships,you will not notice the habit until you get very close.
Road to revelation
Aspouseorfriendcantrytochange this impulse by rewarding the desired behaviourandignoringtheundesired ones.Slowly,the behavior may die out.In case of harmful behaviour,a diversion or distraction can be used.
So say your partner is starting to descend intoanegativespiralthatcouldendup in a long drinking session,you can distract them as soon as they show the first signs with a kiss, smile, hug,and a genuine compliment.A compliment is essential as it stays with a person.
Sometimes, the entire family can need psychotherapy. Also,positive spouses can mirror a negative spouse to maintain matrimonial peace.(S)he may even start beating the other as (s) he seeks pain. The behaviour gets further strengthened and often spills on to the children.
Self-talk is the conversation we have with ourselves in our heads.It influences our behaviour. A therapist first makes the HPD aware of his or her self-talk by asking them to note down their thoughts through the day. They are then asked to identify the negative and self-damning statements.The next step is to convert those into positive ones.
Negativity seekers may eventually seek professional help when they get themselves from one despairing situation into another.
If caught in the teenage years,and self-talk is taught,the thought process can be healed permanently.In adulthood,youd have to be more vigilant aboutself-talkandchangeitconstantly.
Another method is to revisit past experiences that have left a deep mark and come up in the present. Physical abuse leaves a very deep scar and you could keep seeking situations which fulfill and recreate that attention.
Dont spawn negativity
• Parents need to identify if they suffer from a negative past and seek negative attention.Spouses must do the same.
• Praise good behavious and absence of bad behaviour to condition a kid.
• Identify and resolve problems with academics or learning difficulties.
• Do not exagerate negative stories about children as conversation starters.
• Discipline without corporal punishment.
Are you negative
• You dont trust anyone.
• You are always afraid that others are out to cheat you.
• You are convinced that other people are living better lives.