Not everything in life can be perfect and sweet, and so is the case with the people in your life. We all can relate to the idea that some people in your life simply drain the energy out of you. No matter how hard you try, you are left feeling down, exhausted, and even negative about yourself. And sometimes, getting rid of them may simply not be the answer.
But this doesn’t mean you need to continue letting others affect your well-being and draining you emotionally. These people can be your friends, co-workers, your family, professional peers or your colleagues.
Remember, negativity can be transmittable, and you have to deal with your pessimistic friend in one way or the other. Maybe it’s time you deal with that negativity hands-on! That is what this article is all about….
Why is it even important to deal with “Negativity”?
For many of us, it is crucial that you sometimes interact with like-minded people who you enjoy being with and can talk to freely about anything at all. Your happiness can be influenced immensely by the type of relationships you have with the individuals around you. This is because we, as human beings, are social individuals and most of us need company. Constant interaction with and exposure to a negative individual can leave very particular effects upon you as a person. They can either ruin your positive outlook by turning you into a negative individual too or dowsing your mood to join in their negativity (you know the adage “misery likes company”) – as someone who is anxious, nervous, or apprehensive. Chances are, you can become apathetic, rude, and aloof. You definitely do not want to see yourself turn into the toxic person who had completely drained your energy. According to Bree Maloney at Marque Medical, ongoing negativity can send you into a “fight-or-flight” mode, and too much stress can be fatal. Constant negativity can impact your immune system making you more vulnerable to diseases and can also lead to slower digestion, depression and insomnia. Other common side-effects of constant exposure to negativity include fatigue, social withdrawal and drastic changes in your metabolism (e.g. the tendency to overeat or undereat)
Hence it may be time to deal with that negative person in your life.
How to deal with a ‘Negative Individual’?
Here are some useful ways explaining how you can deal with that one negative person testing your positive disposition:
- Maintain an “Emotional” distance
When we talk of maintaining an ‘emotional’ distance, we mean not indulging in negativity yourself and trying not to form an opinion too quickly. Do your best not to get drawn in to what others think and say. Choosing not to participate in negativity doesn’t mean ignoring them, but it means keeping yourself at a safe distance. It can be difficult to show compassion to people you so desperately want to get rid of, but people can change and can act differently. Refrain from indulging in negative thoughts yourself, at least if it is likely to effect you too negatively. A negatively influenced mind might result in negative behaviour by you, and your pessimistic friend (already subject to negativity) will definitely mirror that on to you too. It’ll become cyclical; a vicious circle if you are not careful. Try to approach your friend with the same positive attitude you wish they had!
- Have a Deeper Understanding
Remember, there is always a reason someone acts and behaves a specific way. One way to deal with a negative individual is to listen and understand where all the negativity seems to be coming from. You can then be compassionate towards them without having to join them or let it effect you too negatively.
- Help Them Smile
Try and remind the person every now and then of a memorable moment the two of you spent together. It might brighten up their day and bring a positive outlook, at least for the time being. Praising or complimenting them over their things can really boost their confidence and may just keep a negative and pessimistic day at bay. Or share something that made you smile, with the aim of helping them to smile.
- Interact in Groups
One way to deal with negativity is to hang out in small groups of 4 to 5 people. Ideally people who are able to share the load with you, people with good strength or character and positivity. You can organise group events, decide to go somewhere as a group so that you alone don’t have to take on all the negativity. Being alone with the person can mean that only you are there to listen to the individual and take on the burden of the negativity radiated. Being in a group means that negativity can be diffused by other people as well, reducing its negative impact upon you.
- Avoid Lecturing or Preaching
Pessimistic people can drain not only your tolerance but also your time and your energy. Negative individuals may hold the capacity to turn anything you say to them against themselves. They may see your lecturing or preach as a sign that you are against them and may even interpret it as criticism on your end. If you feel like getting rid of all the negativity, try to talk to someone else (who you trust) to vent it healthily.
- Help them Accept Negative Events
Rather than simply helping the person react to negative circumstances around them, you may help to teach them to accept unfavourable circumstances as a useful part of life; that they can learn from it with some healthy reflection.
Without sounding glib, or making light of their challenges, you can also tell them of a time you experienced a negative situation. For example, when one complains about a bad day at work, tell them of a day you messed up things at your workplace and how it happens with everyone. You ultimately aim to normalise the occurrence if possible. This can sometimes seem like you are not effectively empathizing, and so sometimes, simply accepting what they tell you and being there for them can be a great way to empathise and help them accept also.
- The ‘Appreciative Inquiry’ Technique
Now, appreciative inquiry is a subtle approach whereby you slowly ask the person questions that could help them gain a more positive outlook in the future.
This could come in handy when someone around you radiates negative feelings about a certain situation, and you can feel its impact upon you. For example, if the person is venting about a past incident. You can ask questions like, “What do you hope would happen next time?”. This will probably lead to a more positive outlook and discussions or questions about a more hopeful future!
- Steer Away from the Topic
If you feel like the “Appreciative Inquiry” technique didn’t help, then another solution we have to offer is to slowly change the topic in a respectful way. The aim being to help them as well as yourself. Do know that this has to be done quite tactfully because an individual naturally prone to negativity can make a negaitve assumption. The ideal approach is to start with a relatively positive conversation, initially talking about what the ‘negative individual’ has to say and then move onto a topic closely related to the one you guys were talking about.
- Take a Break from Them Sometimes!
Remember to set boundaries for yourself. While you may want to reach out and help the person because you want to be a good person or a good friend, please keep in mind that your mental well-being has a lot to do with your regular life experiences too. Too much negativity can really change your approach to life. So do remember that someone else’s negativity is not entirely your responsibility to deal with. You can choose to break this vicious cycle and take a break – a little “me time” for yourself. For example, if that pessimistic person is a colleague at your workplace, you can excuse yourself on account of the extra workload. If the person, however, is a family, keeping yourself away from them can be a little difficult, but you can always go out for coffee or shopping without them from time to time.
- Try to give them sweet surprises!!
When we talk of surprises, it could literally be anything at all. From doing a small chore to planning to spend a day together, it could be anything at all. Chances are they may keep their complaining and their pessimistic attitude at bay, something you could look forward to, even if it was only for a day. You can also call this the “Act rather than React” tip. Try to do good things for the person that have nothing to do with a specific circumstance or conversation. It could really brighten up your friend’s day and consequently even yours!! Be sure this doesn’t turn you into a doormat who gives and gives without any appreciation, though deriving appreciation is not the aim, you want the other person to demonstrate some benefit and an uplift from what you do.
- Speak Out, Especially When You Have to!
Know the right time to speak up. You are there to help the person and be a ‘helping hand’. But this does not mean you go about sacrificing your self-respect and esteem for someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate what you are doing for them. Remember, you don’t have to let go of yourself. Know when to speak and reply, especially when their retort or criticism is (implicitly or explicitly) directed towards you. It’s good to be a good listener, but that doesn’t mean you do not get to express yourself honestly and effectively too! Not speaking up, when necessary, can make the person feel that you agree with everything they have to say or even spur them on to take advantage of you.
- Analyse their Role in your Life
Sometimes nothing may seem to work, and putting in too much effort and energy with someone can be exhausting and seem futile. So, it’s easier you analyse if your efforts may even be worth it before dealing with the person. Consider all the pros and cons of your interactions and the way you are with them, and how it effects both of you. See what you’re giving and what you’re getting in return. In the end, remember it is you and your well-being that matters the most. If you are well, you’ll be able to serve your friendships and relationships better and more effectively.
- Move On!
When all else has failed to work, it is sad to have to remind you that this may be the only option left for you. To make it easier for you, I’m quoting Mandy Hale here: “Letting go doesn’t mean you stop caring. It means you stop trying to force others to….”
I realise it is not easy, but you must know that it is sometimes necessary. Avoiding and getting rid of someone can be hard. But even in that case, you can always try and limit their influence over you. You may be able to return at a later date, but if a person’s negativity is having a direct negative influence upon you and your own well-being, and if other efforts are not working out, then this may be the best option remaining.
Remember that you deserve to be in the company of someone who can understand you and have a positive impact upon you; at least occasionally. You don’t have to sacrifice your own happiness for a negative individual. If you believe you can make the situations better, be sure to try the tips mentioned above.
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