How (even covert) Negativity Kills Intimacy

Precious Self
4 min readDec 29, 2023

My negative thoughts felt like a pretty great defense.

Complaining made me feel safe. I felt that if I could preempt people’s mistakes and lead with mistrust, it would mitigate the risk; I could step in first and avoid the pain. It helped me keep an uninvested distance from people in my life, creating a shield to protect my heart.

Focusing on people’s faults kept them at arm’s length. The invisible (but rather vocal) negative thought guards (NTG’s) happened to work 24/7. To be honest, they never slept much or had a tea break.

Here’s one of them illustrated for you:

In the past, I would write negative thoughts in a diary. A sort of ‘Secret Truth Diary’ which (I thought) helped to ‘keep things real’. (I mean — how else was I to keep track of everybody’s shortcomings!) :-/

Dear Diary, it would say, today I’m so over it, this person is the absolute pits, if only they would LISTEN TO ME! Great, this person has gone against me again!… I’m going to have to… He/She’s forgotten their promise to… blah, blah, blah otherwise, this is my future, and it sucks!…blah, blah…they are all out to get me…etc, etc.

Harboring negative thoughts seemed harmless in the bad old days. I felt I needed to vent! It seemed therapeutic to let off steam to my friends, my journal, or whenever I’d had ‘a few too many drinks’. But I was wrong about it being a harmless secret. My subconscious was listening to this drivel and, more disturbingly, believing it! It was a self-perpetuating nightmare.

Those thoughts give off a vibe, and more than that, they have a habit of slipping out when you least expect it (during pocket dials, for example!). Ultimately, I hurt people I cared about and hurt myself in the process. This vibe is like a shadow casting itself over your life and relationships. It leaves a mark on people’s experiences with you. It shows in your body language, aloofness, and eye-rolling. When I realised negative thoughts poisoned things, I was embarrassed and mortified.

Things changed with the help of some amazing mentors. Who shared daily techniques to convert negative thoughts into positive actions. I’ve kicked negative assumptions out of the building, but I still deal with the occasional NTG. Just last week, someone diced with death and said, “You’re so unprepared!” — (when they noticed I was not carrying a bottle of water with me on a blisteringly hot day).

The old me would take the advice as criticism, and I would then have negative thoughts about them being cold-hearted and flawed for saying “such hurtful things”. I’d have defensively said, “how dare you speak to me that way!” (and possibly some swear words.) Now, thankfully, I examine my feelings before responding. I ask myself — why am I feeling criticised? Is it really this person’s intention to be critical? Upon internal exploration, I concluded this person was looking for a way to help me and did not intend to be critical at all. In other words, now, in looking for the real intent behind the words: I ask myself; what does their heart want right now?

Instead of taking it personally, these days I say, ‘Thank you for helping me”. Obviously, in the movie where I say; “How dare you speak to me that way!” the relationship between us became fraught, confusing, and ended with more arguing, and eventually, I left. In the movie where I say; “thank you for helping me”. The emotional safety is protected! (And I was hydrated all day!) On a serious note; the guy involved, felt needed and appreciated, and I felt dignified for seeing him in the best light: as my hero ensuring I had water for the day ahead.

As Fiona Lukeis, an Australian decades-long relationship coach, rightly says:

“When a relationship has built a history of handling conflict well, people relax. They feel safe around each other and know that their frailties are protected. In showing their insecure side (temporary feelings of insecurity), the relationship can navigate disagreements without lingering residue.”

When a relationship doesn’t build this history, each time they experience conflict, a small notch in the “I don’t think we are a good match” or “We are too different”, belt grows.

Shifting negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones, has made every aspect of my life feel lighter. I couldn’t do this without practice, without gaining knowledge about what universally motivates people and how they communicate. Self-nurturing also helps squash NTG’s, take a look at the self-nourishment I revolve my life around here for inspo. I’d highly recommend keeping an eye out for those negative thought guards—they tend to multiply into small armies when you make a big commitment towards a fellow human, like marrying or moving in together.

I believe their boss is called: FEAR.

I wrote a little bit about fear in my article, Abundance or Scarcity.

Thank you so much for reading. If you enjoyed this gem of insight, clap and clap some more, comment, and subscribe so you don’t miss a thing.


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