- Mental Health»
How to Stay Positive around Negative People
Some people are lucky, they're born positive with a cheerful outlook on life and always see the best in each situation. These people, I believe are truly blessed.
Then there are other people who need to work at it, people who aren't completely negative, but who are slowly learning how to see the good in various situations every day. They try to do small things to feel inspired and happy - even if it's as simple as starting off their day by reading a few inspirational quotes.
This is an art form, it isn't easy - and it takes practice every minute of every hour, and every hour of every day.
I'm one of those people. I'm not negative by nature, but up until recently I tended to worry a lot, get stressed out over the smallest of things, and feel as though the world was judging me. I always assumed the worst in people, and I think because of all of the negative vibes around me - I attracted a lot of it back.
I'm not sure what exactly made me have a light bulb moment, but earlier this year I decided two things:
- I didn't want to spend my life worrying or feeling negative about silly things
- I didn't want to look back on my life one day and regret everything I missed out on for feeling that way
I won't lie to you - this type of thinking is a daily practice for me. Sometimes I have to stop myself in the middle of a thought or as I'm about to say something, and ask myself if this is the type of person I want to be. I am happier with my life today, more so than I have ever been. It has nothing to do with materialistic things, and all to do with my state of mind.
This reminds me of one of my favourite songs - Empire State of Mind - Alecia Keys.
Isn't life just about following your dreams?
Tips to Dealing with a Negative Person
- Don't judge or assume the worst. There might be an underlying issue that they are working through. Try approaching them from a positive angle, they might surprise you.
- Walk away. When you feel that there is too much negativity around one person, it's best to just walk away from it.
- Don't react. People tend to gravitate towards others who react emotionally to their complaints. It's hard, but it's best to try and be as unemotional and detached as possible if you're listening to them - even if it's only for a short while. The more emotionally you react, the more likely it is that they'll keep coming to you as a means to offload.
- Don't get into an argument. Negative people enjoy arguing and find it difficult to look at situations from other points of view. If the conversation gets too heated, just let it be and walk away. There's no point in trying to reason with a very negative person at this point.
- Empathize. Some people really are just crying out for help. Offer to listen and give advice if they are prepared to listen to what you have to say and take to heart any advice you may offer.
- Ignore their complaints. When they start complaining, instead of reacting to what they're saying, just say "Ok" and move onto another conversation topic. They'll get the message loud and clear that you're not interested in hearing their moaning.
Running into Brick Walls
I like to refer to negative people as brick walls because they're so stubborn and sometimes they hurt like crazy when you run into them.
They're pretty hard to avoid, yet they're everywhere.
Dealing with negative people isn't easy. Especially when you're a positive person, or if you're like me and have just recently decided to change your entire outlook on life and live in a happier state of mind.
So, what type of brick walls do you run into every day?
These are my two brick walls at the moment:
Maybe you get to work early, you're in a fabulous mood because you've either had your early morning workout, or you've eaten a great breakfast and you're all ready for the day ahead. And then what happens? Negative brick wall walks in, all grumpy because they're tired or had a fight with their partner.
Don't get me wrong - everyone is entitled to their off days. But coming in to work everyday feeling tired and grumpy? Really? If this happens to you, don't let their bad mood affect your good mood for the day. When this happens, I usually just try and have some friendly conversation with them to lift their mood. Otherwise, if this doesn't work - I get off my chair, make myself a cup of good coffee (or tea), have a look at the view outside (you can browse a picture on your computer if you don't have something to look at outside), and then I just get lost in my work and forget all about the other person that's having a bad day.
There's no need or point to letting someone else's bad mood rain on your parade.
Negative Family or Friends
Ignoring a colleague is one thing, but ignoring your family is quite another. Personally, I don't really associate with negative people as friends anymore. I just feel that life is too short, and I don't want to be around people like that if I have the choice.
I can't do the same with my family though - you don't choose your family. If you have family members who complain and moan about the small things in life, I suggest just letting it go, like water running off a duck's back. That is, if you're like me and you've tried everything humanly possible to get them to see the good in life, to enjoy doing things and to have fun - but it hasn't made any difference. Sadly, I've learnt that my family is never going to change. I love them, and it doesn't mean that I'll stop visiting or phoning them - it just means that it won't be as often as what it used to be.
Everyone deserves to have a sounding board, and families are supposed to be there for each other for this. But when it's almost every conversation that starts with something negative then I'm sorry, I cut the conversation short, or change the topic immediately.
You shouldn't let someone else's negative outlook on life change what you are working so hard to avoid.
How Do Negative People Affect You?
My advice for dealing with negative people is not to take what they say or do personally. They're unhappy with the way their life is going and they probably unconsciously don't realize the effect that it has on other people, but it does.
They're not happy in themselves and they're not happy with life. If you can avoid them, do so. If you can't and you've tried to help them see life for the better, or help them out in their circumstances but they still refuse to let go of all the negativity, then just let them be. There's nothing else you can do for them, except offer an ear for them to complain into.
But it's up to you how often you do this, and how much you allow them to bring you down with them.
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Melanie Chisnall is a freelance writer from Cape Town, South Africa.
She is a firm believer in trying to maintain a positive outlook life, after many years of giving in to stress, anxiety and negativity. She practices yoga and meditation on a regular basis to keep focused and happy, and is a firm believer in karma.