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  • Double Negatives Don’t Work

    Posted on by Heather

    I know this from years of deploying this tactic with futile results.

    Definition of a double negative for the purpose of this conversation:

    mentally beating yourself up about something that you’re not doing, that you wish you were doing…

    Definition of a double negative in the context of the life of an over-achieving A-type personality (i.e. me):

    constant and consistent negative self talk that goes something like….

    “I can’t believe I didn’t go to the gym today. Fuck! I’m SO lazy. Think about s0 and so, she has 2 kids AND she goes to the gym six days a week. Oh god, I’ve eaten nothing but shit all weekend; I had fries EVERYDAY 5 days in a row…Fuck…!”

    or it might sound like…

    “I should have gotten up earlier. I wouldn’t be rushing like this if I wasn’t so lazy and tired.  It’s probably because I went out for beers last night. Fuck! Why do I do that?  I should have come home early and gotten ready for today.  I’m so fuckin disorganized. Fuck!”

    or it might sound like…

    “I can’t believe I’m wasting my life away watching this shit on TV.  I’ve been lying on this couch for 3 hours.  There’s so much shit I should be doing right now.  Fuck!”

    And don’t get me wrong. I still have these moments. I still catch these thoughts, even when I think I’m watching a TV show. If you pay close enough attention – you’ll hear that other voice. Call it Ego, Gremlin, Negative Self-Talk – the name doesn’t matter. But the equation is something to pay attention to & in this case: two negatives DO NOT equal a positive.

    WARNING: I don’t have any awesome science to back up this theory I’m about to announce, but I’m sure there is. (If you know of any, leave your comments – I’d love to hear from you!)

    When you beat yourself up and think negative and self-destructive thoughts…you leak energy.

    Leaking energy reduces the chances that you will make any behavioural change.

    Ceasing to make any behavioural change (i.e. staying the same) will precipitate more negative self-talk.

    The cycle repeats.

    You spend WAY too many years of your life STUCK in this spot.

    I think the reason we get stuck here, at least from my perspective, is that there is a part of ourselves that believes that by thinking this way and speaking so negatively and aggressively to ourselves, we will take action to change.

    It was the punitive model that most of us grew up with…

    Punish you in order to motivate you to do what you’re ‘supposed to do’ and punish you to deter you from doing what you’re ‘not supposed’ to do.


    I’ve pondered this quite a bit as an adult, and in a moment of profound realization, I concluded…

    it did’t work then, and it doesn’t work now.

    Double negatives don’t work.

    If I want to actually change my behaviour, and therefore change my life, I’ve got to abandon the double negatives.

    Disclaimer: I’m not suggesting that I’ve some how arrived on some holy grail of never speaking these kind of thoughts somewhere deep inside myself. They are still very much real in my experience to this day. But, as many an evolution teacher has taught us – awareness is the first step. (“When you know better, you do better” – Maya Angelou)

    And what you’re looking to become aware of is your feelings. Your feelings tell you everything.

    When you’re leaking energy, because of all that negative self-talk, you don’t feel all that great – trust me.

    If you want to REALLY, ACTUALLY, FUNDAMENTALLY change in your life, here’s my advice:

    • Circle back and partner with yourself. Self-love, affirmations, and support is what you need to make change.
    • Take care of the foundation. Mental, Physical, Emotional, Spiritual – put your health 1st & you’ll build on solid ground.
    • Tell the truth. If only to yourself. Live your life for YOU. What’s right fro you is right for everyone!!
    • Ask for help. You will and do need it. No one made it alone and people need to help you as much as you need to receive their help.
    • Genuinely appreciate what you already have. Momentum goes a long way when you’re making changes. Look around and warm your engine by taking stock of the things that are already amazing miracles in you life.

    2 Responses to Double Negatives Don’t Work

    1. Thanks for the post Heather, I appreciate the level of authentic and vulnerability you have opened yourself up to in sharing your inner voice. I can definitely relate to creating a compounding negative energy when I have failed to achieve or do something (Although I can’t claim my inner voice drops quite as many F Bombs ;).

      Thanks to my dad, I am a huge believer in the notion of “giving energy, not sucking energy”, and your visualization of “leaking energy” when you have a negative mindset really hit home with me!

      This post has inspired me to continue to put time, attention, and positive energy into the foundation of who I am- I am also inspired to continue to share personal stories and insights from my own, again being true to who I am and what I believe in.

      Thanks again for the great post, Heather,
      Look forward to catching up!

    2. Hey Tyrell – Thanks so much for your comment! Yeah, I know, my inner (and let’s face it outer voice) drop a good portion of F-bombs – but hey, I like it that way. 🙂 And maybe one day I’ll change that, but only by accepting myself now as I am – something I work towards on a moment by moment basis:) SO glad to hear you’re taking care of #1 – that’s the only way we can change and inspire the world – and boy do you ever do that! Yes, let’s get together for a catch up soon!

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