Keeping a positive attitude in the face of negativity is hard, isn’t it? Sometimes you can’t even define what it is about a certain person that brings you down. And you know all this stuff; you know it’s not good for your health and wellbeing to let others affect you in this way. But, ugh, when your sister pulls that face of hers; when your coworkers start gossiping about the new manager, you feel your heart sink into your new retro sneakers. We feel it too, we know how difficult it is to stay happy around negative people. Yet there are ways and means…
What Are Your Negativity Triggers?
What? I thought it was about them, not me? Well, sort of—it’s a co-creation, this negative interaction. Your first step is to have a think about what it is that you find negative. What sets you off? What do you hate to hear? Pick a person who always seems to have a black cloud hanging over them. We’ll call her Joan. What is it specifically about what Joan says or does that makes you feel bad?
Let’s say she can’t seem to stop herself gossiping about your friend, Debbie, who isn’t present. When Debbie shows up, Joan is smiley and friendly to her, leaving you mad because Joan’s negativity is still roiling around inside you.
If you like, make a list of these triggers person by person. Now mark each trigger as ‘Accept’ or ‘Reject’. What this means is that there are some things you can do something about, i.e. you can speak out. Those are ‘Reject’, and there are some behaviors you know there’s nothing you can do or say to make them change; mark these ‘Accept’.
Take Action To Restore Your Happiness
Now you know your negativity triggers, you can take action to deal with them. In the case of Joan, it’s simple. Just say, “When you talk about our friends like this it makes me feel uncomfortable. Can we please change the subject?” Joan may not like it, but she has no choice. You have clearly stated your rejection of her behavior and it will give her the opportunity to think about the effect her words have on others.
Then there are those triggers that you know you can’t do anything about—the ‘Accept’ category. In this case, you have to change your own thinking around them.
Your grandmother has the most awful habit of repeating the same tired cliches constantly. It drives you crazy, yet you know she’ll never change. Once you acknowledge it as one of your negativity triggers, you may be able to accept it as just granny being granny. Instead of letting it bother you, practice allowing it to roll over you. Ignore it, or perhaps try to understand what she’s trying to convey? Perhaps she doesn’t have the vocabulary skills to say what she wants to say without lapsing into the same old phrases.
Personal Relationship Negativity
Your boyfriend is lovely, but on some days he seems to be dragging the whole world’s misery around with him. You don’t know what to do when he’s in one of these phases. And, of course, it brings you down too. You’ve tried talking to him about it, but he can’t explain it. He says, it’s just the way he is. In other words, take it or leave it.
You have to know that you are completely responsible for your own happiness, and if you find that the relationship makes you more unhappy than happy, you have to make a decision. Do you accept: stay with him and put up with his recurring bouts of self-hate and depression? Or do you reject: leave, because you can’t make it better for him? It’s your choice.
What’s the Cause of Their Misery?
Often it helps if you can understand why they feel and act the way they do. Understanding can go a long way to accepting they have a reason for feeling negative. Causes might include:
- Worries and anxiety
- Poor health
One thing to remember is that their negativity is rarely anything to do with you. So don’t take it personally. Instead you can help a person you love by involving yourself a little more. Engage with them. Bring a smile to their day. Perhaps an afternoon teaching you how to bake her awesome ginger and cinnamon cookies would make your lonely Auntie Doris really happy? A little positive attention can go a long way to alleviating a person’s suffering.
Letting Go of Negative People When You Can’t Fix Them
Sometimes you have to say goodbye. Sometimes, when you know they are unwilling to change their behavior, or they can’t acknowledge their negativity, you have to walk away for your own well-being. When it is a friend or acquaintance, ask yourself if you want to continue (and accept) these negative interactions, or would you feel better without them in your life? There is no rule that states you have to remain friends with someone just because you’ve known them since kindergarten.
Are You Positive You Aren’t a Negative Person?
Something you really need to think about is: are you certain you are not the one carrying around the negativity? Pay attention to the effect you have on others. Pay attention to the words you use. Check if you are bringing misery to the party. Do you enjoy reveling in doom and gloom? Are you the conveyor of bad news?
Ways To Stay Positive
- Be grateful and appreciative. Keeping a mental or written list of your blessings is always a good way to maintain a high vibration.
- Remember that other people’s negativity isn’t about you.
- Know that you can’t get miserable enough to help them. Never feel guilty about being happy in the face of negativity. You are more helpful from a place of positivity than by joining them in their misery.
- See this as a way to explore your own attitudes and learn how to handle your feelings when dealing with negativity. It’s an opportunity to grow.
- When you can’t bear their negativity any longer, simply walk away if it’s possible. Take the time to reflect, to be on your own, to recharge your own spiritual batteries.
Tell us how you have dealt with a negative person; we’d love to have your input.