We have all heard, and used, positive reinforcement. It’s a very important aspect of learning, self-acceptance, and personal image. However, for every positive message, there are 100s of negative messages.


We are bombarded with negativity in school/work (low exam scores, employers who think it’s motivating to share everyone’s sales results, etc.), and on every single social media platform, in movies, even songs. Complete strangers, telling us what we can’t do, how we aren’t good enough, tall enough, slim enough, wealthy enough, intelligent enough. As the song goes “words are like weapons, they wound sometimes…”

It can feel very isolating, and debilitating, to constantly encounter negativity.

How do we counter the negativity:

  1. Accept you cannot change others. It sounds simple but in fact its very difficult to do, especially if the “other person” is someone of importance, or in a position of authority or power.
    1. Repeat in your mind, when you’re in a situation where the negative words/actions, are impacting you, “this is only temporary” or a similar mantra.
    2. Acknowledge (to yourself) that the negativity you are being subjected to, has often less to do with you and more to do with the other persons need for attention.
    3. Find a way to walk away. It can be as simple as saying “let’s talk later” or, “I’m running late, bye”. It can also be more direct, such as confronting the negativity with warnings of reporting.
  2. Understand that negativity is often a form of abuse and that your abuser is empowered by you continuing to enable the abuse.
    1. If the negativity is coming from social media, actively step away from it. Close the app, or close that page. Report the user or block them. Don’t engage; this is what they want.
    2. If the negativity is coming from someone in a position of authority, and walking away or turning off is not possible, take an active approach and note what has been said that offended or negatively impacted you. If you can legally, record the moments. Taking control is empowering you.
  3. Find outlets for your emotions/feelings
    1. Counselling/support groups
    2. Physical activities (such as walking/walking your dog)
    3. See your medical practitioner and start the process for an emotional support pet (if you like animals).
    4. Take up or reactivate a hobby or interest that will allow you to express yourself, while also controlling your environment better.
  4. Strengthen your support group(s)
    1. Look at your friend group(s) and actively dissect what you are receiving and what you are contributing to each of your friends/friend groups. This activity will allow you to assess which relationships are beneficial to you and which may not be & will also make it easier to know who to call/speak to/text, when you need to “just talk”
    2. If you have a strong family bond, increase those bonds by initiating “family time” & for those without the traditional family bonds, look to forming or creating your tribe/family. Having a tribe to literally break bread with helps us feel less isolated.
    3. If you struggle to create bonds, or keep bonds, speak to your counsellor, GP, or social worker, about how to improve your communication skills, to create those longer and stronger bonds.

In a world where people are constantly judged, it’s easy to feel like you’re bombarded with only negativity, however, there is also so much good I the world – work on finding your space, and your tribe, & your skills, so that you have the mindset to remove yourself from negative reinforcement.

Melbourne Building Works (MBW) has always been dedicated to the safety and independence of all Victorians, which is why we are proud to be an accredited NDIS Disability and Accommodation Modifications specialists & are committed to the improvement of every Victorian’s life.