Set a Time Limit on Negativity

Time is in such short supply. The sooner we appreciate its value, the better life becomes.

When I was a kid my mom set the egg timer for almost everything we did; whether it was how long we spent doing our homework, weeding the garden, watching television, or complaining about life’s challenges.

It helped us to understand that nothing lasts forever – good or bad.

This was especially important when we felt helpless over things we did not have control over, including chores we  did not want to do.

Setting time limits also taught us to respect how our words and actions impact ourselves and others.

Full disclosure: My mom is a psychologist too.

In this interview I share why I set a time limit on negativity.

Your time. Your life.

To this day I set a timer on the stove.

A simple, yet effective way to motivate myself through tedious tasks and become more mindful of time itself.

The timer principle can also be applied to how often we are negative (and positive) throughout the course of a day.

Venting feels good in the moment, but when it goes on too long, the costs outweigh the benefits.


Joy needs room to breathe.

Too often we complain about stressors for hours beyond the momentary challenge has passed. Leaving little time in the day for appreciation, wonder, and gratitude.

Then one day we wake up and realize that life is too short to be all negative, all the time. Even (especially) when life gets tough.

Balance is key.

Negativity is to be expected. It’s part of the human experience.

The question is – how long will you stay there.

Share your challenges. Share your obstacles. Share your difficulties.

But also leave room for what’s good in your life.


Joy needs room to breathe. And so do you.πŸ’«

Helpful Video: 3 Energy Techniques 

32 thoughts on “Set a Time Limit on Negativity

  1. Stacy Cosham

    I’ve used a timer for many things and this is some great advice. I will certainly give this method a try while i work through a difficult time. Thank you πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks for the feedback on using timers!

      “Negativity Timers” work wonders in life’s daily ups & downs too.

      Especially in marriages. For example, it’s not fair to a spouse to have to listen to chronic venting about a repetitive (mundane) issue..

      Just ask my husband.πŸ˜‰

      We each get “venting time” at the end of a day. Then we can move on to what counts: Our blessings.✨

  2. Timing has always played such a big role in my life and recently I’ve been practicing doing the opposite to this. However I love this too and the negativity timer idea is fantastic. Will incorporate πŸ™‚

    Perhaps there are seasons where we learn both sides of the coin so we can incorporate the values found within each lesson?

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. Andrea, thank you! This is a really valuable post for me. I agree, it’s important to get negativity out, and at some point it becomes counter productive to do so!
    “Joy needs room to breathe.” – I love this!
    You are an inspiration to me. Blessings, πŸ™‚ Debbie

  4. Andrea, I really appreciate your post! I use the timer all day in my classroom while teaching. I realize how it helps my students and I to smoothly transition without stress. When I started teaching I would lose track of time and the bell would ring before they had put away binders and computers. It would be so chaotic! Having that happen multiple times stressed me out too. Now, the timer rings 5 minutes before the end of each class I have time to end class with kind words or a positive quote. The love it! I guess my timer is giving my students and I room to breathe at the end of each class period. Thanks for highlighting just how significant it is to use the timer.βŒ›οΈ

  5. Love this idea of using a timer to limit the time we spend worrying, being negative, stressing, etc.

    My daughters and I made a “rule” so that when we talk on the phone in the evenings, we don’t talk about money, finances, bills, cash flow, paychecks, credit card statements . . . lol! You get the idea. Nothing to do with money. If it does come up during the daytime hours, setting a timer would be a good idea!

    Thanks, Dr. Andrea. You are so right: Balance is key. We can’t ignore pressing concerns but we can limit the time we spend worrying or projecting negative thoughts. Brilliant! Thanks!

    1. Thank you for sharing your family strategy for staying focused on what counts – sharing each other’s health & joy! Otherwise, an hour conversation becomes 55 minutes of “what’s missing” & only 5 minutes of what’s working. I choose joy. And I know that you & your daughters do too!πŸ’ƒπŸŽ‰

  6. Love this – ‘joy needs room to breathe’ might just become my new mantra. I certainly have to work hard to find the time to just breathe…sad but true πŸ™‚

  7. beautifulcrone

    Thanks for the reminder and lift. I also use a timer, especially for the chores I hate. I do a bit, do something else, and do a bit again. Timers are wonderful tools.

  8. Negativity is to be expected, yes. And how long will we stay there is the question. Your egg timer reminds me of a speaker I once heard, Walter Bond. He tells the story of how he used to respond to negativity/let-downs…go to his room, turn on Lionel Richie’s song “Hello,” and sulk for three days. He says you can play your sad songs on your boombox for three days then decide to be done. Lol. It’s a funny story with a great message. πŸ™‚

  9. This is great advice. I spent a huge amount of time focusing on the negative. It tore my life apart. My life is a lot better now and I do attribute it to not focusing so much on negativity.

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