Dealing with Negativity from Others when Brainstorming, Creating and Inventing

At Christmas, I and my granddaughter who just turned 8 years old, set up our Christmas tree in the living room, placed the lights and then used every Matchbox and HotWheels car we could find in the house as its decorations. There are a lot of them from years of my seven children having lived here at various times in my parents’ house.

We put Christmas hangers on the underside from the front wheel on one side and carefully placed each miniature car and truck throughout the entire tree until it was covered in lights and cars. We added iridescent snowflakes of white acrylic and glitter that had been bought at the dollar store or WalMart at some point which we did find among the Christmas decorations.

Then, we added fan-folded skinny strips of red metallic wrapping paper and little curls of silver holographic and red metallic papers thrown on top of branches here and there. Eventually, I let my granddaughter completely drape the tree in tinsel and it was all amazing.

CricketDiane 2018 and Allia Christmas Tree with hotwheels and matchox cars decorating it s DSC02676 - 2

It turned out that the lights were blue that we had found and then we found another box of lights with multi-colors which we added as well. So, half the tree was blue (on the top half) and then it was all colors when all the lights were on. We set up the plug-ins for the lights, not in series accidentally, but separately, so that when one switch was turned on, only the blue lights lit up and it seemed the tree was lit in blue. When both switches were on, the tree lit up with its bottom branches predominantly multi-colored and the top two-thirds only blue. It was interesting and very fun.

The first person to see the tree like this and the person who had been steadily watching here and there on the sly, was my daughter and she didn’t want to hurt our feelings about using these cars on the tree or our making do with half a tree of blue lights and the other half multi-colored, so most of what she said to us about it was in the “well, that’s really kind of nice that way” variety of comments – a little held back, a little patronizing and very thoughtful, really.

The next person to see the tree was my oldest son when he came over a couple weeks before Christmas and just after we had everything on it except the tinsel. We had it all lit up for him to see it and I thought he would be thrilled to see many of his little cars on the damn thing  but no, I don’t know why I thought that. At least he was playful when the first words out of his mouth were, “What the hell is wrong with you? You can’t use those for that!” And, this only other comment about it after first seeing it was, “That is the worst use for HotWheels cars I’ve ever seen,” or something close to that.

My first feelings were – he thinks I’m crazy to use these little cars as Christmas ornaments on a Christmas tree and my feelings are hurt. I told him not to say any of that stuff in front of my granddaughter because she is really proud of it and then I saw his face and realized he was only partly being playful about what he said and partly didn’t really think it was an appropriate use of his little cars. Too funny.

Negative comments are easy to make and every one of us do it, including me. Being on the receiving end of those comments, it is hard to figure out if it is meant intentionally, if it is a playful barb, or if it is intended to convey something whether intentionally meaning to be negative or not.

How we deal with all that matters since the hurt feelings that can happen in those vulnerable moments when creating something, brainstorming something and inventing things will carry into future choices and current projects to get in the way and cause stumbling blocks.

The first thing I do is to think about what was said and try to understand what the overall moment was like between me and the person who made the comment. Sometimes that just isn’t possible, because I can’t see the playfulness that was intended or the light jovial interaction that way when it is a very negative barb that came from someone’s mouth and mind in the midst of that moment.

However, I’ve learned that regardless of how jovial or cute the moment was intended to be, what the person tells me about me in that moment and whatever negativity they convey can hurt my feelings just as if they meant to throw a blow at my self-esteem on purpose. Surely that is partly my own issues getting in my way at times, there is no doubt. And, each time I process those moments like this, I’m working through those issues and becoming emotionally and intellectually stronger.

The second thing I do, is to note what my own thinking is telling me about all that. Unfortunately, I can interpret meanings into things by what I’ve been taught that they  mean, when maybe that isn’t even what it means today with the people I’m around now and the situation where I live today. Sometimes, I write down this part until I can understand what was said and how my mind and subconscious translated it to mean something.

For me, this technique works and it isn’t journaling – it is writing what was said by the other person on a 3×5 card with a fat black Sharpie pen where I can see it good, then writing what my mind is telling me it means or thinks it meant using another color Sharpie marker and color post-it notes or 3×5 card backs without the lines. That was I can see them side by side when I pushtack them to a wall or piece of wood or board of some kind.

By seeing the two communications side by side, I can genuinely ask myself – well, if the person really meant that and what if it is true, how does it feel? Then, I write that down where I can see it separately from the communication and what my mind tells me about that communication.

Then, I work to feel those feelings and let the wash through me and accept them as my own. Usually, it doesn’t matter if the person meant any of it or not, in the way it conveyed to me since the feelings that were stirred by it are what I need to deal with effectively and process properly.

The third part of what I do, is to talk to the person about it – usually, but not always. I can make a written or video commentary about it, talk to them about what they said and how I felt about it either on the phone or in person. Or, I can write a debated argument about why do people say that damn negative stuff anyway (but that helps a lot less than the other two). Or if I’m still heated up about it, I can work with a friend to take a walk with them and cuss about it at the top of my volume range until I’m calm enough to do something else, (which works very good.)

Really, it is easy to be the brunt of negativity and negative comments when the thrust of what I’m doing is to create or invent something new or different. People around me are often judgmental in very negative ways when I am working on ideas that might work, brainstorming solutions or new business ideas, or inventions, creating artworks or sculptures, making models and drawings of ANYTHING, or writing, blogging, making, video-ing and photographing things for online publication and broadcast.

Maybe it is just part of the package to have an assaultive barrage of negative, why it won’t work efforts come from the people around us when it is time to imagine solutions to a problem or invent new things and create diverse approaches to innovate new options. Maybe that process invites those around us to take time from their day to express vehemently why we should know better than to think any of it can work.

The most negativity that comes from others when I’m brainstorming and creating happens more often at the beginning of the project when it is easy for my subconscious to shutdown the process of generating any more ideas or options or creating any solutions at all.

That is the worst, because it aborts the entire process and then nothing goes forward from me at all. It just stops. And the thinking about, why bother to create new things and invent solutions when the world is filled with nothing but people like this anyway – let them fix the damn stuff their own selves – starts to fill my head instead of creating solutions or inventing of any kind.

But, what did the person gain who took the time to shut down, demean and deride my efforts to create solutions, invent something new, innovate and make those innovations apply to make our lives better? They gained nothing and cost me a lot considering the overly short amount of time in anyone’s life, including mine.

To deal with that kind of negativity, I do three simple things and ignoring them isn’t one of them. My subconscious isn’t going to ignore them whether I do intellectually or not.

One, I deal with the fact that the person is telling me certain things about myself that hurt my feelings whether they are right or wrong about those things. To deal with those, I use the processing my feelings method described in last few paragraphs above.

Two, I deal with whether or not the project and its possibilities, its solutions, its efforts required and its merits means something to me that is more important than the person who is shooting down those efforts. This is the most powerful tool I have about this.

Three, I deal with the negativity itself through rigorous and candid honesty with the person by speaking to them about honestly. For me, that means saying things like, it sounds like you are saying that nothing I might try is going to work. And, did you really mean to tell me that I have no right to try and create solutions for this problem or to invent something that might work to solve it?

I repeat back aloud some of what it sounded to me like they are REALLY SAYING – which in our family is rather a no-no to say aloud honestly, and then let the person tell me if that is what they meant or realized they were saying, which sometimes it isn’t. And, sometimes – it was what they were saying and did mean, but on hearing it out loud – the person who was deriding me for even thinking about things that I could never hope to ever create anything to solve for it, in their judgment of it – decides maybe that wasn’t real helpful and not appropriate to the person they want to be. Sometimes.

Often, and in most cases – believe it or not, people don’t want to help brainstorm or create solutions or something new because it isn’t worth their “valuable time and efforts” which could be used to play a video game or watch cable instead.

But, the same people feel compelled to get up once I’m brainstorming and writing down those ideas or talking with them about it if they let me or creating something with those ideas that I generated, and that person will tell me every single reason they can imagine that it won’t work, can’t work, doesn’t work, isn’t going to work, has never worked that way, has never been done that way, could never be done that way, doesn’t make sense to do it that way and isn’t done that way by anyone else.

And, my least favorite of all – the thirty minutes these same people always seem to use up to explain to me why historically it isn’t done that way and if it would’ve worked that way, somebody besides me would’ve already done it.

It is hard to want to create anything by the time I’ve heard all of that, and often screamed at me by those who choose to tell all that to me – including various family members, my grown children, best friends, friends and sometimes done by even acquaintances that don’t know me that well, when I’ve worked with others and teams in situations to brainstorm solutions with them.

Having read a lot about inventors, inventing, making, creativity, brainstorming, creating, doing art, writing new music, writing and about writers and other creatives – it is apparently part of people’s general reactions to things that are new or different that is affecting them when confronted with someone brainstorming new ideas or working to create solutions and invent things that either haven’t been done before or were done in some other way in order to innovate them. It must be dealt with effectively too, because this kind of negativity is damaging, mind-numbing, often cruel and a complete waste of time – it destroys and creates virtually NOTHING.

By the way, staying completely away from others is not a good answer either.

  • cricketdiane, 01-16-2018

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This amazing article from The Guardian was on my twitter timeline and I went over to read it. Well worth checking it out. The article is about creativity, creating and inventing.

Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jan/15/creative-thought-has-a-pattern-of-its-own-brain-activity-scans-reveal

An Excerpt from the Article –

“One of the barriers to creative thinking is the ease with which common, unoriginal thoughts swamp the mind. Some people in the study could not get past these. For example, when asked for creative uses for a sock, soap and chewing gum wrapper, less creative people gave answers such as “covering the feet”, “making bubbles” and “containing gum” respectively. For the same items, more original thinkers suggested a water filtration system, a seal for envelopes, and an antenna wire.”

from – Ian Sample, Science Editor

The Guardian,  Science Section, 01-15-2018

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