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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Karina Fabian Wants To Give You a Break on Negative Thinking

The Power of Positive Negativity
By Karina Fabian
Negativity is underrated.
In our society, we are bombarded with the power of positive thinking:  You can do anything you desire!  Everyone can succeed!  Believe in your dreams and they will come true!
I’m sorry; reality doesn’t work that way.  You can’t nail water to a tree.  Success is not guaranteed, no matter how much you believe in yourself.  Not every negotiation can end in win-win.  You can’t always have your cake and eat it, too.  But you know what, that’s okay.  Take a breath and embrace the can’t!
I’m not talking about blanket pessimism, which is as counterproductive as unrealistic optimism.  I’m talking about knowing when to harness the power of negative for your benefit.  Sometimes success lies not in telling yourself that you can, but that you can’t—or won’t—and remembering that you don’t get to have it all.
Done right, this kind of negativity (or realism) liberates.  There’s pressure in thinking you can do anything, and in believing you deserve it all.  It also makes failure, especially after multiple tries, all the more disheartening.  Parenting, I think, teaches this.  Much as we’d like to, we cannot raise our children to be successful in every endeavor (whether of our own aspirations or their own goals).  We do our best, and they become the people they become, whether we like it or not.  We don’t have to stop trying to guide them, but if we keep in mind that we can’t dictate the make of their lives, we can open ourselves to enjoy the individuals they become.  We can find joy in what they choose.
On a personal level, realizing you can’t do anything you want removes pressure and allows you to open yourself to surprises and new successes.  When I was growing up, I was a straight-A student and was told—and believed—that I could be a scientist, engineer, or computer programmer—any kind of technical, really smart job.  Then, I went to college.
Anybody else have that comeuppance?  I discovered that while I could study and understand the concepts and ace the tests, I could not work the equipment nor extrapolate from facts to discover new things.  The same thing for all the technical fields I tried.  What if I’d kept pushing, kept trying, kept “believing in myself” and that I could do anything?  I’d have been miserable.  Instead, I came to terms that while I was smart and creative, I was not a great technical or scientific mind. Although I kept my math major and went into signals intelligence in the Air Force (which I did not enjoy, btw), I knew that was short term to finding what I really was good at.  I married, had four kids (I’m great at having babies!), and became a writer. 
I can write!  I can take the most disparate elements and make something new—and I can make a plot work in ways I could never do with an oscilloscope.  However, if I’d kept pushing at being a scientist like I’d dreamed, or even at being a career military officer, I’d have sapped my energy and never discovered what I can do so well. Instead, I accepted that I can’t do everything I wanted, no matter how much I believed in myself, and as a result, discovered my vocation.
Oh, and let’s talk about “can’t” in a smaller, more practical sense.  Sometimes, to reach a goal, you have to deny yourself.  You can’t pay off the credit cards and buy fast food whenever you like or have the latest cell phone.  You can’t lose weight and eat whatever you want and not exercise.  You can’t do everything for everyone and do it all well.  Saying “no” frees you.
But you have to use it correctly.  You just sabotage yourself if, for example, you say, “I can’t lose weight, so why bother?” as you reach for the Cheetos.  If a medical issue keeps you from losing weight, then, you can accept that, treasure your body, and still do what you need to via diet and exercise to keep fit.  And don’t say “can’t” to something you want unless you really tried.  You can’t get an A?  Really?  Did you do all the assignments, and double-check them?  How much did you study?  Did you seek help from the teacher or other students?  Did you give it your all?  “Can’t” is an acceptance of reality, not an excuse to slack off.

I’m sure there are people who are going to hate this message.  No one wants to be told they can’t do things, and our society is all about gratification and encouragement—whether it’s useful or not.  But negativity—used positively—can relieve stress, free you to find new goals, and help you achieve real success.


Karina Fabian is an award-winning fantasy, science fiction, and horror author, whose books make people laugh, cry, and think.  Mind Over Psyche is the second in her Mind Over trilogy.  Learn more at http://fabianspace.com
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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