Dealing with Negative People
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. If you can’t even do that then you actually deserve that which you don’t like!”
We may interact with negative people daily, be they friends, family members, a partner or a colleague. We love them, we care about them, but they are negative and their negativity is eating away at us. We simply can’t just cut them out of our lives. What can we do about it?
The best way of dealing with life’s challenges is to take a good look at ourselves and take responsibility for what we think, feel and do.
We should never give our power away by blaming others for what we have or don’t have what we feel or don’t feel. Once we do so, we’ll become a victim of circumstance and instead of using our time and energy to beat life’s challenges, we’ll sink to a dark and miserable place.
Here are some positive and effective ways of dealing with the negativity of the people close to us:
1) Give up the need to complain
We should make sure we are taking responsibility for our feelings and mood. We should not go on complaining that other people’s negativity is affecting us, because it will only create more negativity. We should learn to take responsibility for our thoughts and feelings and see what we can do to make ourselves feel better and change the existing situation.
“Whoever has limited knowledge of human nature and seeks happiness by changing everything but his own attitude, will waste his life in futile efforts.”
— Samuel Johnson
2) Similarity Attracts
Good brings about good, bad brings about bad, and whether we want to or not, we pull into our lives events, situations and people that reflect our internal state. One should ask oneself: “How am I feeling? Am I happy, excited, thankful and calm? Or am I anxious, frustrated and judgmental?”
We may find that we radiate misery to the environment and that, part of the negative energy surrounding us, is in fact a reflection of ourselves.
3) We should not believe everything we think
This is definitely one of the hardest things to learn. We should look closely at the negative people in our lives. What is it about them that gets us going? What affects us so much? Is what they are doing really that bad or is our brain playing games with us?
Remember, the brain is configured to look for trouble and it focuses on other’s negative qualities. It’ll be very hard to get it to see the positive side of things, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t one.
One should ask oneself: “Am I ready to find the good in these people? Am I able to see their good qualities?” Let the answers come naturally and we should make sure that we are being honest with ourselves. Remember, there is no one in this world who is hundred percent good or hundred percent bad. There is a mix of something good and something bad in every one of us. If we feel like we are insistent and won’t change the way we are looking at people and situations, we should not give ourselves a hard time. This takes time and patience and when we are ready, we’ll take this step. Remember, we all have some good in us.
“It’s so hard when I NEED to do it and so easy when I WANT to do it.”
– Annie Gottlier
5) We should not make their problems OUR problems
For their sake and ours, we should make sure we are not adopting their problems and becoming negative about them ourselves. If we want to cure negativity, sliding down right along with the negative person won’t help; it will just make it worse by validating their thought and behavioral patterns. Rather, we need to focus on solutions, not problems. We should offer that and nothing else.
6) Taking full responsibility
Instead of being a victim and judge, we need to take full responsibility for our thoughts and feelings, and take a different approach.
“Everything that annoys us in others can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves.”
— Carl Jung
We should not waste our time obsessing and thinking: “They are ruining our energy, making us miserable; their negative energy is infecting our own…” Instead, we should say to ourselves:
“How can we use this to our advantage? Is there something that we are doing wrong? How can we improve the situation and increase our positive energy to be stronger and overcome their negative energy? What do we learn from all of this?”
7) We should come with our own positive energy
Focusing on negative energy cannot create positive energy, and the other way around is also true. We should focus on making ourselves happy. It is enough that we have great positive energy, and we will see the negativity cringing away from it.
Remember, energy is contagious!
How to put up positive energy? Our focus should be on the things we like about the negative people, on things we love about ourselves, our lives and the world around us. We should think of loved ones, of things that make us happy. That way, we will increase the positive energy exponentially.
If we incur negative energy by thinking about bad things, the opposite is also true and we’ll be able to hopefully ‘wake up’ our fellow workers. We can’t focus on both of them — happiness and misery — at the same time. So we need to choose one – happiness or misery.
8) Be part of the change you’d like to see
The world is no more than a reflection of who we are, deep inside. We should try to go for a feeling of well-being, to live a positive life, a merry life, one that has love, trust and the pursuit of happiness. We cannot change others, but only ourselves. This is the only way to change the world.
Think of it this way: When we are happy, the world seems happy and the sky is open and blue. When we are sad, the world seems sad as well and the sky is grey and uncaring, leaving us alone to deal with our pain.
Flow with life events, don’t resist them, live in harmony and be the change you wish to see in the world.
“Never underestimate your power to change yourself. Never overestimate your power to change others.”
— Wayne W. Dyer
9) Awareness and Acceptance
Work on understanding life’s inevitable duality — accept the bad, negative with the positive, good. The very creation is sustained on the positive and the negative forces supporting and balancing each other. They are the two sides of the same coin. One can’t exist without the other. If there is birth, there has to be death. Imagine without death what would have happened on earth. There wouldn’t have been enough space to stand even on our toes! Creation is sustained on constructive destruction.
Don’t harp on people’s negativity, don’t judge or fight them. Let them be, look and accept. Remember, our world is no more real than a reflection of who we are, deep inside. We should not try to bring everyone into our own world. We should learn to accept theirs as no less real than ours and their point of view as no less valid.
The hardest part of acceptance is accepting that, sometimes, some people cannot be changed. Their negativity is something they will defend to the last drop. Not because it gives them pleasure, but because they think it is a natural part of themselves.
Even though it’s never too late to try and change that point of view, some never will. It is up to us to either accept their negativity and react accordingly or take our distance from them. This is especially hard when it is someone we love.
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of others.”
— Carl Jung
10) Move forward
Dealing with negativity and trying our best to dispel it can be exhausting and at some point, we have to move on with our lives in a positive way. We need to find a path that allows us to go on with our lives without the negativity of others, but also, without the regret that leaving a loved one or friend behind may cause us.
We should learn to make our feelings known to them, make them understand that they are hard to be around and slowly decrease our interaction with them. If they want us to stay in their lives, they will be forced to at least pretend to be less negative and pretending is the first step to actually becoming less negative. The more we act a certain way, the more we believe in it.