Daily Herald May 25, 1991
"Behavioral negaholics" become trapped into responding with negative behaviours to whatever happens around them. They aren't necessarily miserable people. But they allow their lives to become caught up in patterns of behaviour that hinder them instead of helping themselves. As a result, they create misery for themselves. In Negaholics: How to Recover From Addictions and Turn Your Life Around, Cherie Carter-Scott describes three types of behavioural negaholics: the procrastinator; the pat tern repeater; and the never-can-measure-up person.
A procrastinator reacts to a task that has to be done by filing it away in his mind, on the principle of "out of sight, out of mind". He doesn't want to do it, but can't or won't decide not to do it. Rather he decides, for just now, not to do it. If a procrastinator lived in his own private world, he wouldn't have many problems. Procrastinating about something that only affects you won't upset others much. But procrastinating about things, which affect others around you, such as chores, homework, jobs for your boss, or paying bills on time, results in both you and others being upset. Procrastinators need to constantly ask themselves and answer these questions:
- Does the task HAVE to be done? i.e. Will I face major consequences if it's not done?
- Am I going to do it?
- If so, when am I going to do it?
- What steps do I need to take with myself to guarantee I do it by that time?
The second type of behavioral negaholic is the pattern repeater. I refer to these people as "stuck in a rutter's". They end up consistently doing the opposite of what they want to do. They're always intending to do something. But because they won't make or keep a firm contract with themselves, they repeatedly allow themselves to be sidetracked from their intents. Having little confidence in themselves, they get hooked by negaholism, and, much to their own frustration, behave opposite to how they want to behave.
Addicted people are behavioral negaholics. They may want to do things positively, it takes only one negative action by them to immediately plunge them into a repeated pattern of negative behavior, which we generally call "an addiction". These people are best helped by those people who have already been emeshed in such a negative way of living, and who, with a lot of support from others, (focusing predominantly on a positive philosophy of life), have managed to overcome that addiction. The most successful example of this support is found within the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The third type of behavioral negaholic is the never-can-measure-up person. He sells himself short in how he treats himself. Rather than focusing his efforts on achievable goals, he settles for much less. The excellent student, who with effort can achieve an "A" will only achieve a "C" since he doesn't see himself as being worthy of or able to get an "A". A never-measure-up person becomes a living example of the truism: if you sell yourself short, you'll end up short.
The key behind behavioral negaholics is their belief that "I can choose to do only what I am". Because they lack self-esteem, or self-confidence, they see themselves as not capable of much.
As a result, they end up acting out their self-fulfilling prophecy. If they choose to look at life positively, rather than negatively, then they can believe, "I am and can be, what I choose to do." With this change of perspective, they can throw off the chains of behavioral negaholism, and become in charge of their own life.
The key to getting out of negaholism is in accepting responsibility for what nobody else can be responsible for in this world yourself.