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Too Negative?
Recently, I've been working on self improvement, so I asked somebody what they thought my worst trait was.
They said that I was too negative, and that that was how they would describe my general attitude. Negative.

Now, what's that supposed to mean? Pessimistic? Critical? Some kind of mix between the two?

I asked them, but they merely shrugged and said that it was their general impression. So I was forced to examine each one individually.

Pessismistic is expecting things to turn out poorly. Well, for one thing, people are almost always too optimistic in their estimates. Ever wonder why nothing ever gets finished on time? Optimism. In fact, being told that I'm that much more pessimistic than your average person is almost a compliment.
Secondly, it's ridiculously hard to be perfectly realistic, and it's probably better to err on the side of pessimism anyways.

I doubt they were talking about pessimism though; it's much more likely that they were talking about being too critical. Which.... I think it's good to be more critical than your average person, and that, actually, it's probably a good idea to critically analyze everything I encounter.

On the other hand, I probably shouldn't be too outwardly critical, since I am trying to work on social skills right now, and critical analysis of everything is not well-received by most people (never mind that it's effectively the intp modus operandi.............. Undecided).

So, anybody else have input on this? Or, does anyone have thoughts on being "too negative"? I stuck this under Hyper-Mindfulness because I think being "overly critical" is pretty close to it.
I'll share a few thoughts.

TL : DR;
I don't think your problem is with how you see the world.
I think your problem is with how you convey that world to others.
You are defining problems that others don't want defined to them, instead of telling them things that (albeit not always accurate) allow them to cope and/or solve the problem

Negativity is good. Criticism is good. Skepticism is really good. These traits give you the power to change things; excessive optimism, blind acceptance, and sightless belief give you no power towards your goals or to achieve your ends.

It is difficult for most humans to be negative enough (at least, according to HPMoR), so I doubt that that is your problem.

Rather, if I look at it from the perspective of the bystander that you have not named, I see a different flaw. It doesn't seem to be your actual thought processes are the problem (at least, not in that regard. I would be the last to exclaim that anyone is a perfect rationalist). Rather, it appears to be your negative reactions that strain your relations.

I love humans. I love humans to death, but the sad fact is that (large number) out of (only slightly larger number) of people can be trusted to act or think rationally in any given situation. Thus it is up to the people that can act and think rationally to heartlessly and remorselessly manipulate the thoughts and actions of non-rational agents for their own good. I jest. Regardless, manipulation is just half a step away from social tact; at least one of those seems to be missing in all too many aspiring rationalists.

It is important to differentiate rational thought from seemingly rational statements. Saying "your curfew rules suck" to your parents seems like a logical statement, but it serves no purpose, in that you could not possibly (realistically) hope that such a statement would cause change in your curfew rules. It may outline the problem, but it does nothing to fix it. Doing things that have no hope of working causes at best annoyance and at worst pain and heartache.

Stating the problem, or even solutions, does not solve the problem. It helps, it is the first step, but many humans cannot, or will not, take your information and convert it into a solution for themselves. They don't like problems, and do not want to be reminded of them. Thus, if you want to help someone, you have to independently solve their problems for them. You don't have to take it all on. For most feeling types (and probably the rest of us as well), a good portion of their troubles dissipate when they find someone that they can, if not complain, then at least explain things to. Someone that doesn't pretend to know all the answers. On the exact opposite side of this merry spectrum, we have rationalists that would much prefer new thoughts, viewpoints, and evidence to sympathy.

There is nothing for it but to go full slytherin. Compile a list of the people you know, as well as a section for people in general and/or individuals in specific groups. Figure out what they all want day to day, what a big thing for them would be, and what they would require in a crisis situation. Update this list as evidence arises, don't get attached to its current form. Then, consult this list until you have the highlights memorized.

Now it's just a matter of getting what you want in exchange for giving them what they want. The only difference I can see between tact and manipulation is that some can carry lists like this subconsciously.

That's the secret to being a social savvy solicitor. Give them what they want, not reality as you see it.

I'll Walk Myself Out.

P.S It is, of course, important to determine your own safe negativity limit. Although it is very difficult to be negative enough to 'consistently undershoot reality' trying too hard can lead to mental issues. You are no good to anyone, especially yourself, if you are depressed. If that is you (although I doubt it), please get help.
Even if the stars should die in heaven,
Our sins can never be undone.
No single death will be forgiven
When fades at last the last lit sun.
Then in the cold and silent black
As light and matter end,
We'll have ourselves a last look back
And toast an absent friend.

--Elizier Yudkowsky
Quote:Thus it is up to the people that can act and think rationally to heartlessly and remorselessly manipulate the thoughts and actions of non-rational agents for their own good.

Ayn Rand? Tongue

Quote:There is nothing for it but to go full slytherin.

Ah. I usually test as Ravenclaw, though I self-identify as a member of House Default. (Every sorting algorithm needs an "else" condition to default people to if they can't be accurately sorted by the sorting criteria) I suppose I really should work on social tact, though I find that far more difficult than working on rationality, which seems to come fairly easily if I put in the effort.

Here I was, thinking that I used enough social tact that I don't upset people....................... >.<
I'm already pretty restrained in public, after all.

Thanks for the perspective and advice, though. I will put it to good use.
I thought Hufflepuff was the default house?

If witty then Ravenclaw,
if daring then Gryffindor,
if ambitious then Slytherin,
else Hufflepuff.

I love you, my little starkitten, but you've committed a logical fallacy here, possibly without even realizing it. In your first post you say you want to work on SELF improvement, but then in the same sentence (as if it followed logically) you said that in order to do this you asked someone ELSE what you should work on/who you should be.

I have to inquire: what is the purpose of this so-called self improvement? Are YOU unhappy with yourself? If so, what part of you are YOU dissatisfied with? That's the part you should focus on. If you are perfectly content with yourself, but feel a pressure from other people to be less like yourself and more like them, then this is not really self improvement at all but merely a dulling of who you really are so that the people around you are fooled into thinking you are closer to their definition of "normal." You will not end up happy in the long run if you deny yourself like this.

Socrates said that if you are unhappy with your government, it is your duty as a citizen to either put up with it, or change it, or leave... If you are feeling that the people around you are not suited to be around you, you have no obligation to continue being near them. Negative/pessimistic/critical is really just splitting hairs, because when you come across the people who appreciate you for who you really are they will enjoy this side of you.
[Image: vqKCbnh.jpg]
"Well if I were You-Know-Who, I'd want you to feel cut off from everyone else. Because if it's just you alone you're not as much of a threat." -Luna Lovegood
Mm, perhaps, but I'm not entirely convinced that Hufflepuff makes for a good enough default, since it has its own traits associated with it (being loyal, hardworking, etc).

The purpose of the improvement is to better succeed at getting the things I want from life. Nobody is perfect, but we can all work on changing our attitudes, perspectives, and behaviors so that we can become better suited for achieving our goals, whether those goals be building shelters for the homeless, starting a communist revolution a la Lenin, or just finding a really good eclair.

The purpose of asking someone else is that I am an obviously rather biased party when it comes to myself. I might not see an issue that someone else could point out. I, of course, am not going to mindlessly accept someone's opinion, but, if I consider it, I could find a useful second perspective on myself. I really could stand to improve my social skills; being an awkward, socially anxious, low-Fe person doesn't help me in the slightest.

While I thank you for your advice as well, Moon^2, I don't think that changing myself is a problem. I could "just be myself", but, the thing is, "myself" is already in flux. I am not the same person I was ten years ago. I'm not even the exact same person I was yesterday. If I can see a potential future in which my life is better than it is now, and I can become the person I see in that future today, then why shouldn't I?
cattgoddes Wrote:
I'll walk myself out Wrote:Thus it is up to the people that can act and think rationally to heartlessly and remorselessly manipulate the thoughts and actions of non-rational agents for their own good.

Ayn Rand? Tongue

Actually, If I recall, Ayn Rand was more along the lines of:

"heartlessly and remorselessly screw everyone else over for your own good. If they deserve better, then they'll screw you over for it."

My point was altruistic to some degree, at the very least.


I would also second catgoddess's opinion on self improvement. My philosophy is that if I ever find myself at a point where there isn't something about me that I want to change, either I have won life entirely or I'm missing something.

One is slightly more likely than the other.
Even if the stars should die in heaven,
Our sins can never be undone.
No single death will be forgiven
When fades at last the last lit sun.
Then in the cold and silent black
As light and matter end,
We'll have ourselves a last look back
And toast an absent friend.

--Elizier Yudkowsky
I think that thinking positively can help people get through a lot of difficult or miserable times. But I'm also reminded of that paper stating that "positive" people aren't as empathetic with people who are recounting negatively emotional experiences (when empathy is probably most needed) and even rate themselves higher in empathy despite the contrary:

Shorter version:

I feel as though there could be a lot of implications to that. As with so many things, what some might consider our worst traits are often our best at the same time.
Lots of great points here that I'll be chewing on for my own personal reasons. That said, I think that a real flaw in asking someone else to describe you (at least in my experience) is that other people seldom actually understand the true definition of the words that they use, as you pointed out. This phenomenon leads me not to trust the opinions of others at face value in the first place. I constantly find myself helping them tease out exactly what they mean by turning to google to find the true definition of the words they've thrown out at me. This leads to annoyance for them and frustration for me so I rarely solicit this type of input from most of the people I know.

This is also why I stand by my theory that most people really don't want to know what I think of them because I will be very precise and exacting in my evaluation. Others tend to go by how they feel about you or something you've done rather than examining the actual experiences they've had of/with you that brought them to that feeling and then finding the appropriate words to define it (i.e: you told them the shirt they wore was too small for their figure. they didn't like that, so now, you are "too negative" rather than honest). That general feeling will also likely change based on their most recent encounters with you.

Negative, or positive for that matter, is just too broad a brush to paint with when describing someone without giving examples. I've been called this many times in my life, mostly because I do not sugar coat things for others; I tell them what I think based on the evidence I have before me. I am then deemed negative simply based on the other person's reaction to what I've said rather than if what I said was actually said with the intent of being negative or was actually a negative saying. Of course, all perception is relative in one way or another.

The fact that you know you are biased about yourself is a great thing, to begin with. A lot of people ignore or are simply not aware of this in the first place. Of, course, as an INTP all data must be considered which is why I try not to let a lot of it in all at once and am very careful about where that data comes from.
Trust no one, fear nothing.

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