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Girl Positive: The Art of Negativity
By Debbie Christofferson, CISSP, CISM

Coming from a blue-collar town in Ohio, I grew up in a generational welfare family with six kids, domestic violence, and a drunken bum who cared more about himself than any impact on those around him. He delivered a constant barrage of negative trash talk on what kind of kids we were-lazy, worthless, ugly and stupid. It never changed.

This was followed by extreme prejudice in school against welfare kids as early as 4th grade, by classmates and some of the teachers. School creates a safe haven, but you're relegated to another kind of nothingness.

These experiences lead you to grow up angry inside, and to build walls that keep others out. Because you can't let it out, the anger grows, festers, and shapes who you are.

How does inner anger hold you back? It shows its face in your job, career, relationships and life. The biggest impact reflects on how you feel about yourself.

Everyone has their own story, circumstances and diversity, to different degrees. Yet some of us put life's lessons to work and succeed, while others of us stay mired in muck.

How do you overcome negativity, that's ingrained in your soul? Change takes time and focus, and you have to want it.

Taking the First Step

What's the difference that you can start making today? Becoming aware of your negative behavior and thoughts, and what's behind them, gives you a starting point, by:

  • Keeping a journal of your thoughts
  • Writing down in bullet form the good things that happen to you every day, public, private, big or small
  • Focusing on your strengths
  • Giving up caffeinated drinks or pills that create negative nervous energy
  • Planning ahead so deadlines don't create a crisis
  • Getting involved in something you're passionate about
  • Learning from self-help books
  • Giving counseling a try, and being open and honest
  • Attending a Dale Carnegie program or following his books
  • Writing a positive letter or note or card to a friend or family member and telling them what they mean to you
  • Stepping into the other person's shoes

It's always about you

If you're out of work, or dissatisfied with your job, career or life, you might be creating the very reality you DON'T want. But sometimes it's hard to see things in the light of day, when you've been hiding in shades of gray.

It's only within you to change your own beliefs and habits.

It doesn't matter where you came from, only where you are, and where you want to go. If you want to make things different, you have to recognize your own role, behavior, and choices that will make it different. Start a new journey today.

There's no other magic to it-it's all in your hands. Negativity may be as simple as a bad habit, and changing it to a good one.

Everything is possible; the only limits are within the walls of your own mind.


Having a positive attitude is the #1 attribute cited in "10 Traits of a Successful Woman", by Kelley Biorkland, at in a column last June. Some things never change. But you can.

Take responsibility for your own actions, results, and life. Create change one tiny piece at a time. No one has to notice but you. Start making your own changes today-a step at a time, from the inside out.

A negative outlook takes years to cultivate, and change won't happen overnight. You can change it if you want to, and it starts one day and one minute at a time, starting NOW.

Send career questions via, email to "Ask Debbie" at

Coming Next: "Toxic Words of Technology and How They Derail Your Career"

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Meet Debbie Christofferson

Debbie Christofferson

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