Off Topic: The Upside of Negativity

Alabama Phoenix Festival, Day 2. I am there with Magic City LEGO Users Group, trying not to scare people.

Caveat: Today’s subject is not about horses. Occasionally, I think about other things. For more non-equine subjects, see my other blog, Off Topic. Rodney’s Saga returns to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

The self-help shelves sag with books warning us of the harm that negative self-talk can do to our goals, our ambitions, our souffles, whatever. They are wrong. That screaming voice in your head is the only thing keeping you from making an even bigger idiot of yourself than you already do.

I’m a LEGO geek. I do not live in a geek-friendly area. My neighbors are lovely people, but we do not reach. A few years back, several of us Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) got together to form a local LEGO Users Group (LUG). Sound unusual? As of yesterday, there are 77 LUGs in the US and 188 in the world. Yup, we be out there. At our first meeting, club members brought our My Own Creations (MOCs) to show off and share. A MOC is built from a custom design rather than assembled from a store-bought set. One member took various parts of LEGO’s little plastic people (mini-figs) to recreate the cast of a popular science-fiction show (see photo). I still find this just about the coolest thing ever. On reflex, I quoted one of the lines from the movie (“Let’s be bad guys.”) He laughed. I was shocked, shocked to find someone who got one of my references.

Serenity's Crew. Image courtesy of Bokeh Photos. Shiny!
Serenity’s Crew. Image courtesy of Bokeh Photos. Shiny!

As part of our club activities, we display at conventions, libraries, and whatnot. At these functions, I’m always excited to meet LEGO-interested adults who live in my area. More folks who like what I like. More interesting people to hang with. More people who might laugh at my jokes. I tell them about our LUG. I invite them to a meeting. Perhaps I get a little too excited. That’s when the negative voice kicks in, “You see that hunted look this poor soul is getting? You see the squinching around the eyes? You are freaking him out. Quit with the rabid fangirl routine.” Okay, the bitch can get a little loud, but sometimes she has to yell to be heard. “You are scaring these people, laser brain. If you keep going, he’s going to chew off his leg to get away. Stop talking NOW.”

In writing, this negative voice is called your internal editor. Having one of these looming over your shoulder is reputed to stifle your creativity. My internal editor saves my ass. “See that bit there? It’s confusing. Fix it.” Or, “See that statement over here? If you leave it like that, someone, somewhere is going to ask question X. Clarify yourself.”

My internal editor is deeply paranoid. She insists that I cover every base. She makes me send follow-up emails on the most trivial points, “Remember when you assumed it was PM and it should have been AM? Remember the consequent unpleasantness? Want live through that again, you ignorant slut?” These emails are always couched in the most deferential terms. To the outside world, she insists on politeness. It’s only within my head that she is a raving cow.

Back in the dark ages of fax machines, one had to call to confirm receipt. I always did. One time, I had a Monday deadline. Monday was a holiday. I faxed. I called to confirm. I happened to get someone passing through the office. I noted date and time. When everyone came back to work the next day, they saw my fax sitting in the tray. An editor called to tell me that the article was late. Therefore, they would not pay me. Au contraire. I related to whom I had spoken and when. I got paid.

Negativity deflates our self importance. My husband’s family has the water glass test. Can’t go on vacation because you are indispensable at work? Obtain glass of water. Insert finger. Withdraw finger. Hole still there? Congratulations, you are indeed indispensable. If the hole is gone, you need to get over yourself. This is where the wisdom of negativity comes in, “Poor you. Stressing about your position in the universe? Here, have a glass of water.”

Does the inside of your head sound like a tribe of chattering monkeys? Perhaps those not so still, not so small, inner voices are trying to tell you something. Perhaps you ought to listen. Truth hurts? Suck it up, Buttercup.

Bokeh Photos Facebook page here.
LUG data courtesy of Kevin Hinkle, Senior Community Coordinator – Americas, The LEGO Group, backstory, Community Team Blog.


One thought on “Off Topic: The Upside of Negativity

  1. I recently heard another way to put it: the graveyard is full of indispensable people.

    Love this blog. My internal editor is my best friend when I am writing.

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