9 Hacks on Staying Positive in a Divided Society

How do you stay positive in an increasingly divided society? Society is important to me not only because it provides us with a system and a platform to work together, but with collective efforts, society, can hopefully improve living and social conditions for all. Well, that’s my dream for society anyway.

In this post, I've crowdsourced positive thinking tips to find out how bloggers manage to stay positive in an increasingly divided and negative society, and also take a look at how communication theory can help us through the negativity.


positive thinking in a divided society


9 Hacks to Stay Positive 
in a Divided Society


All too often society now seems so polarised. It can often feel like we are stuck in a divided nation, all too keen and eager to see the bad in someone or something before we look for positives. From simple social media posts, mainstream news, sport, celebrity and reality TV to global politics, the focus is too easily perceived as heavily on the negative.

Earlier this year findings from a UK survey report revealed a record trust gap between the informed and mass public, resulting in a 'Disunited Kingdom'.


Edelman Trust Barometer & Brexit


The 2019 Trust Barometer produced by Edelman was the 19th annual trust and credibility survey, measuring trust across a number of institutions, sectors and geographies. It doesn’t matter which way you voted; a simple leave or remain binary choice was going to have a polarised result – no matter how small the winning margin. The Edelman research found that seven out of 10 Brits believe society and the government have made them angrier ever since the nation voted to exit the European Union in 2016, and one in six of us say they’ve fallen out with friends and family over Brexit.

positive thinking in a divided society

Staying Positive in a Polarised Society



Now there is not much I can do about Brexit, but I have been thinking about simple ways to keep as sane as possible. So how do we keep ourselves positive and sane in an increasingly negative and polarised world? Is it possible? 

Of course! But we sometimes need to employ our own coping mechanisms – things that can help us adjust to stressful events while helping maintain our emotional well-being.

I have a colleague and friend who I both admire and respect, so when something in life annoys me, online or offline, I ask myself “what would they do / how would they respond / how would it make them feel?”. They have no idea I do this but just a split-second thinking about something from a different perspective is enough to help me make more of a reasoned decision about if or how I respond.

Actors famously never read reviews. Sometimes I decide the best thing to do is remove myself from negativity. I often use tools to temporarily mute hashtags on Twitter, I unfollow or hide pages and posts from my feeds on Facebook and LinkedIn.


positive thinking in a divided society

Communication Theory & Ways of Understanding the World


Basic communication requires a message to be sent and received. If it is not understood in the way intended then it has failed, and can then impact on the increasing amount of negativity we experience every day. It is virtually impossible to not communicate with anyone, and we increasingly do communicate with people, we know and many people we don’t, both online and offline. I’ve been thinking about the many communication theories that I’ve studied throughout my life and how we can put them into practice too.

Cognitive Empathy


This is how well an individual can perceive and understand the emotions of another. It’s a learned skill that involves multiple processes that incorporate both automatic, emotional responses and learned conceptual reasoning. And is something we develop over time and in relationship to our social environment. By understanding how my colleague and others feel helps me make better decisions.

Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis is one of the most accessible theories of modern psychology. Transactional Analysis was founded by Eric Berne, and the famous 'parent-adult-child' theory is still being utilised and developed today. I still have his works on my bookshelf after studying his theory in my A level Communication Studies. As the study of interaction among people as a way to understand behaviour, it depicts how each ego state is a way of us experiencing the world, how we are made up, and how we relate to others. Understanding which of the flexible 'states' the communicator and receiver are in can affect the impact of the communication.

Strokes

Berne defined a stroke as a fundamental unit of social action. In Transactional Analysis a stroke is a unit of recognition when one person recognises another person either verbally or non verbally. Interestingly Berne concluded that any stroke, whether positive or negative, is better than no strokes at all. Traditionally this was face to face verbal or non-verbal communication such as a well done, pat on the back, a smile, but now increasingly social media sites provide a constant and pretty endless source of strokes too.

I’m OK

The OK Modes Model by Thomas Anthony Harris in Transactional Analysis shows how we communicate and/or behave with others. 
I'm Not OK, You're OK
I'm Not OK, You're Not OK
I'm OK, You're Not OK
I'm OK, You're OK
Life positions are basic beliefs about self and others, which are used to justify decisions and behaviour.  

Blame

Franklin Ernst drew the life positions in quadrants, which he called the OK Corral and Jim Davis takes this one stage further linking' to 'blame', in a simple model. Commonly when emotions are triggered people adopt one of three attitudes relating to blame, which each correlate to a position on the Okay Corral, however, none of these is a healthy position.

I'm to blame (You are okay and I'm not okay - 'helpless')
You are to blame (I'm okay and you are not okay - 'angry')
We are both to blame (I'm not okay and you are not okay - 'hopeless')

Instead, the healthy position is, and the mindset should be: "It's no-one's fault, blame isn't the issue - what matters is how we go forward and sort things out." (I'm okay and you are okay - 'happy')


positive thinking in a divided society

9 Ways to Cope in an Increasingly Negative World


I’ve asked other bloggers and influencers, often on the end of negative comments due to their online presence, how they cope in an increasingly negative world.

positive thinking in a divided society

1. Simply Ignore


Lianne says "Don't listen to any negativity online from those people who don't know me and have left a bad comment on a post of mine - I just totally ignore and don't even give them an ounce of brain space as they don't know me" 


2. Think positive


Sophie says "For every negative thought I have I then think of three positive ones. Negative thoughts are natural but I counter them with positivity if I can." Similarly, Carla-Marie says "I have started replacing any negative thought about someone with 3 positives. I started this some time ago as I found I was thinking negatively a lot. I know feel positive thoughts come into my mind first.""


3. Spend time with people that matter


Nyomi says "When I’m feeling like the news and negativity are getting to me I schedule in some time with my real life friends over some good food. Often, some time spent off your phone in the real world can shake the cobwebs out." 


4. Create a Happy Jar


Sarah says "I have a happy jar on my desk, filled with positive affirmations. Which I pick one out whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed or had a particularly negative day. It really helps to refocus me and motivate me to continue with whatever I'm doing."


5. Boost your positive thoughts


Wendy says "I do feel good months where I write a list of feel-good activities to do and get them done - just nice things that feel good to do and stop me getting caught up obsessing over negative stuff I have no real control over anyway - really really boost my mood - they're all here you can use any you like"


6. Enjoy Escapism


Denise says "I have a monthly cinema card so when I am feeling overwhelmed by the world I go and see a movie. I get engrossed in the storyline and of course, you can't go on your phone in the cinema so it helps me to tune everything else out."


7. Reduce negative energy


Beth says "Surround yourself who make you feel happy and good about stuff. Positivity really can be infectious and being around negative energy really wears off on me. When I’m struggling, I know who will always lift me up and even just a few text messages can restart my clock."


8. Seek out positivity


Laura says "I've just started a subscription to the happy newspaper. It's filled with lots of wonderful positive news stories that really do help to put the world into perspective and balance out all the negative stuff we normally see in the news."

9. Create your own positive space


Erica and Anna have created a Facebook Page called Rebel Femmes "The idea is that it's open to all women and is non-judgemental. There, women can talk freely about whatever they like, but as women, not parents or wives, girlfriends, employees etc. We are women in our own right. We wanted an area with a level playing field for all women no matter where they come from, their beliefs and so on. Women can be their own worst enemy and it's certainly training me to be less judgemental. It's working nicely so far."


What do you so to beat negativity in our polarised society?

Deb x

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positive thinking in a divided society

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