Wading through the ‘sea of negativity’

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Walking down the frozen Ukrainian streets, listening to my two companions talk in rapid Russian that I couldn’t understand a word of, I felt frustrated and overwhelmed. Inside our apartment that night while planning our day, one of my companions noticed my negative body language and asked me what was wrong, to which I curtly responded ‘I’m fine’ and then didn’t expound on what was really bothering me.

There are many moments in our lives when we let the feelings surrounding the situation affect our ability to see the real issues causing the emotion.

In a presidential election we are bombarded with so much negative feedback about each candidate that we have a hard time actually looking through the sea of negativity into the issues that the candidates stand for.

It can be hard to get down to the “real” facts of what candidates stand for with all of the rumors, opinions and exaggerations.

The recent vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan was a prime example of this. While watching the debate and attempting to listen to the issues the candidates were talking about, I was constantly distracted by Biden’s sarcastic comments and negative body language. It seemed that Biden was either consistently interrupting Ryan, laughing while he was speaking or sarcastically calling his opponent “my friend.”

Personally, I was so disgusted with the lack of professionalism and respect in the debate shown by Biden that I had a hard time focusing on the points that he was trying to make. I was too distracted by the negativity in the debate to analyze and make a decision between the two candidates based on the issues they were presenting.

In every political race since the foundation of this country, there have been two candidates fighting against each other, attempting to show themselves in the best light while putting down their opponent.

Despite this fact, with the rise of social media and the Internet there are more avenues in today’s world for candidates to attack each other. It can seem that we are so completely surrounded by one party attacking the other that we are left in utter confusion about who holds the truth.

So how do we get past the negative advertising coming from each side of the debate and make our own decisions?

I believe it is all about awareness.

While thinking about this subject, I thought about experiences in my life with people, such as the example above from my mission, and what it has taken in order to move past the negative feelings and start talking about where the problem was stemming from, or in other words the “issues” behind the argument.

The first step in trying to get past the negativity is often an awareness that the problem exists. Often when I realize that there is a problem and I kindly approach the friend about what I have noticed, it is only then that we are able to figure out the real issue causing the problem.

In the example above from my mission,  although my companion had realized I was struggling, I was unwilling to talk about the problem. In order to overcome this problem she gently proceeded to explain to me that she had noticed certain negative feelings that I was expressing through my actions and so she knew that I was not ‘fine’ and asked if I would like to talk about what was really bothering me. After she said this I finally broke down and told her how I was really feeling. We were then able to understand and resolve the real issue.

The same concept exists in politics when it comes to choosing who to vote for.

Are we looking past the attacking political ads against Romney created by the Obama administration, in order to really understand what Mitt Romney’s plan is for the economy?

Or have we done the same for Obama and looked past the Romney campaign’s attacking political ads to understand what Obama stands for when it comes to foreign policy?

It’s important to understand both sides of the argument in this race, because the next four years of our country’s future relies on how we vote, but the first step is awareness.

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