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Surviving Others’ Negativity

Think of the grumpiest, most negative person you know. Even on a sunny, tropical vacation with plenty of spending money, this person could still find something to complain about. Everyone has periods of feeling down. Our feelings are meant to flux. Then there are those who seem to get mired in it. Rather than experiencing periods of negativity, it becomes their norm.

Negative people are draining.

A little bit goes a long way. If you are someone who deals with a negative person on a daily basis, you know all too well how emotionally exhausting it can be.  Worse yet, moods can be remarkably contagious. Whether it is a negative co-worker or family member, try to establish immunity. It is important for your wellness.

One of the most important factors in staying immune to the negative vibes of others is to let go of the urge to ‘fix.’

People who struggle with a chronically negative mood may have underlying issues with depression. The depth of these problems can’t be easily fixed, and they are never repaired by the efforts of other people trying to “cheer them up.”

Instead of trying to bring a negative person out of their mood, suggest that they talk to a professional who may be able to help. Let the person know you care about their wellbeing. If you are used to being in cheerleader mode with this person, it may feel strange to stop engaging in this behavior.

Just remember that you aren’t being mean, you are simply ending a behavior that wasn’t working for either of you. It may also help to be open about your change in behavior. Tell the person that you recently realized how often you lapse into cheerleader mode and that you are trying a different approach to being supportive.

Even if he responds in a negative way, you will feel good about having been honest and you’ll probably notice that you feel less drained after the interaction.

If you notice yourself lapsing into a more negative space than usual and feel this is related to spending time with a particularly negative person, it may be wise to set some healthy limits. Is there a theme to the negativity that you are often drawn into?

Keep some subject changers in the back of your mind.

If your friend ventures into topics that drain you and bring you down, subtly acknowledge what they are saying and switch topics. Also, don’t be afraid to directly set a limit. Tell your friend that you are working on being more positive, it may even rub off her.

Chances are, your friend doesn’t even realize how much of a Negative Nancy she’s become. Chronic negative moods are usually gradual in the making and are perpetuated by life events and physiological components such as brain chemistry. Habit is also a factor.

Negative thought patterns turn into beliefs, which filter through to attitudes and moods.

Your friend may be aware of feeling down and depressed but may not be aware of the negative vibe she is emitting most of the time.

There may be times in which you need to take a break from spending as much time with a negative person. You need to be your own best friend when it comes to defending your health and wellness, even if it means spending less time with negative people. Don’t be afraid to say no if something feels emotionally ‘murky.’  Let others know that you are working on building positivity into your life. Even if your negative friend or family member gets upset with you for this, you owe it to yourself to establish healthy habits in your own life. People who love and care about you will respect your commitment to self-care.

Remind yourself “I don’t need to absorb the negative energy of others.”

Using this simple statement as an affirmation can help remind you that you’re not a feelings-sponge. You can be near someone else with negative vibes without taking on those feelings yourself.

If you are a particularly empathic person, this is easier said than done. People with a high degree of empathy pick up on the energy of others and sometimes take it on without intending to. Empaths need to be particularly careful around negative people for this very reason.

Spend time re-energizing yourself after a prolonged exposure to negativity. Observe where you carry your stress and work on mindfully relaxing each area of your body. Meditate on your breathing. Envision a relaxing place of joy and peace. If you continue to dwell on the negativity of an interaction, picture the other person smiling and absorbing joy.

Try to release the image and bring your focus back to your own present moment.

Aroma therapy can do wonders at times. What are your favorite fragrances? Lavender is known for its relaxing benefits; scents such as grapefruit and orange are invigorating. Stand up comedy is an excellent diversion from negative thoughts.

Netflix and Pandora both have a vast selection ranging from silly slapstick humor to more mature humor for adult audiences. Use your creative outlets to release any negative energy you absorb from others; drawing, painting and coloring can be helpful, as well as playing musical instruments and singing, baking, sewing or woodworking. Creating a vision board or a collage can also be a nice way to refocus your attention on your positive life goals and interests.

As you move on and come across negative people throughout your life, try not to take it personally.

Sometimes when people are chronically in a negative space, it can feel as if they don’t like you or resent you in some way. Hold onto your perspective and remember that their journey belongs to them. You only see the external parts of how that person presents and what they are showing to the world.

There is likely a lot going on under the surface that has nothing to do with you. Their mood is not your fault and it is not your job to fix it.

 

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