The Mighty Logo

How Intentionally Being a Negative-Ass Person Helped My Mental Health

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

“Good vibes only,” I used to say while sipping my grande chai latte with two pumps of matcha and two pumps of classic.

I really thought I was doing something as I consciously blocked out anyone and everything that could be perceived as negative, including my personal self-talk and views of the world. 

All of those affirmation lists that say “You are divinely made,” and “Your life matters” were repeated as I primped in the mirror, hoping I’d really soak in the messages. To have a positive life, you have to surround yourself with positive people, places, things, and moments, especially when you live with mental health conditions.

So I did, and surprise — it didn’t work.

I ended up being super depressed around super happy sunshiny people who ultimately would become extremely uncomfortable the minute I decided to be honest about how I was feeling. I created a positivity echo chamber where no one could handle any amount of “bad vibes” or “negativity” even if it was, y’know, mental illness.

The one day, not too different from any other, I said, “What if instead of intentionally being positive about life and myself, I was negative?” 

I sat with it for a couple months (yes, months) because I thought happiness and negativity were mutually exclusive, until one day I said “fuck it” and decided to be the most negative person I could be, and it changed my life. 

I allowed myself to say “life sucks,” instead of “life is good and I’m just going through hard times right now.” I would look in the mirror and say “I look gross,” versus, “Society’s perception of me doesn’t have to be my perception of me!” or whatever the feel-good life coach affirmation lists say.

I allowed the most negative, petty, disgusting thoughts to dance through my head and I actually felt lighter. With being more negative came radical emotional honesty I wasn’t allowing myself when I was saying “good vibes only.” 

I complained. I shouted. I rolled my eyes and with all of it fed a part of myself that was starved when I only wanted to focus on one side of my emotional spectrum versus the other.

A therapist once told me emotions come and go in waves, and when you try to not feel an emotion it builds and grows until it consumes you. Emotional honesty and authenticity stems, yes, from embracing the positive and good around you, but also from accepting the negative. I had to be excessively negative to embrace anger, sadness, and even depression so I could learn how to naturally move out of it and feel safe when I did. 

So, I challenge you:

Be honest with yourself today, and within that allow yourself to be negative. Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” 

Screw that. 

When they go low, go to hell. Curse them, or yourself, out. Say things suck because they do. Embrace all of your emotions, especially the negative ones, because they’re just as important as the “good ones.” If I really wanted to shake the table, I’d say there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” emotions, but that’s for another day.

Getty image by RapidEye

Originally published: June 7, 2022
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home