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Stress Caused by Negative Family and Friends

Updated on April 8, 2015

It sounds easy to say that we must distance ourselves from negative people; the ones who seem to cause us nothing but pain and heartache. You may even have heard suggestions that you actually attract negative people to come into your life, or cause you pain, as if you enjoy that kind of existence. What really matters is knowing how to cope and resolve the issues when people cause you undue amounts of stress and anxiety.

If all of us think today about the people in our lives, I am sure there will always be at least one person who is causing us grief in some way, perhaps even habitually. Does it sound right to allow someone to do this?

When friends are the perpetrators of inflicting nothing but negative into our lives, it does make it a bit easier to handle, because we really can choose who we remain friends with. Sadly we can't choose our families, and it is actually just as likely that the person affecting your mental and physical equilibrium is a member of your family. It could be someone you are married to, one of your grown up children, a parent, or a distant family member. How do we cope with this? It may seem an impossibility to escape the negative behaviours of someone we actually love.

Before I go on further, it would be right to point out that sometimes there may be good reasons for why a loved one is having an effect on your health. For example:

  • Chronic physical illness
  • Mental illness
  • A child with a behavioural problem
  • Staying in a violent relationship

I am not going to discuss these kinds of problems because they are much more complicated in terms of how you would approach the difficulties. I am going to talk about those people that just seem to be 'bad for you', probably in a less obvious way, but you still love them despite this.

Common Signs of Your Bad Antagonist

Identifying a bad person in your life might be obvious to most, but the behaviours of that bad person can appear in quite a subtle way too, making it harder to identify. Do any of these sound familiar?

Does that person -

  • Keep blaming you for things when you know it's their fault?
  • Never seem to compliment you but are good at finding faults in you?
  • Seem quiet and troubled but always expect you to ask why?
  • Lay all their problems on you frequently?
  • Choose when they can be bothered with you and when they can't?
  • Show little compassion when YOU have a problem?
  • Always see the negative side of things and are rarely positive?
  • Brush off your difficulties as insignificant?
  • Only appear when they need something from you?
  • Frequently argumentative?

You have the needy people and the downright selfish people to consider. Some people are both.

Looking at Stress and Anxiety Caused by Others

When we love someone, it means they are special to us. We love them for lots of different reasons, but on occasion we can love someone but not like them. Parents will know how children can make us feel like this from time to time. When you are wrapped up in a relationship with someone, wether that's a spouse, family member or close friend, if you find yourself increasingly not liking someone close to you for the way they are treating you, the light bulb has already gone on. But you love them!

Who Do You Willingly Allow to Affect Your Health?

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How Do They Make You Feel?

Life is stressful enough, so if someone close is not causing your initial anxiety problem, they may well be making an established problem ten times worse.

Do you find a certain person makes you feel one or more of the following:

  • Inferior
  • Sad
  • Angry
  • Frustrated
  • Nervous
  • Afraid

If you know someone is causing you undue stress, that is affecting your mental equilibrium, and physical health, then it's time to put a stop to it.

How to Handle Negativity from Family or Friends

No one needs a constant stream of negativity in their lives. If you stood back and thought what your life could be like without a certain 'bad' person in it, you would have to agree, that even if you can't simply shed them entirely, you can take steps to limit their damage on you.

It's My Life!

This should certainly be your mantra and your turning point. It IS your life and no one has a right to make it difficult for you to be happy, especially when it appears that they don't care what effect their behaviour has on you, and that's the point. It is when someone knows they have an effect on you, and yet they have no remorse, that you have to take action for your own sake.

Learn to be Assertive and in Better Control

Anxiety Caused by Spouse

When the problem stems from a partner or spouse, you have a lot of hard thinking to do if you still love them. It's not easy but it is a necessity to look after yourself first and foremost. That's exactly what they are doing, and they have proved your stability and even happiness is not their priority. First things first!

Talk to them about the way their behaviour affects you. Don't shout and scream it from the rooftops, but sit down, and in a calm manner, explain how you feel. You may actually be surprised that this may be all that is needed in some cases.

If the above doesn't work, ask them if they will attend counselling with you. They may actually have a problem as big as yours and need help to sort it out, but you are not their psychologist.

If this doesn't seem to solve the problem, you may consider a break from this person. See if you can stay with an understanding family member or friend for a couple of weeks, just so you have further space to make some decision and decide what to do next. It's harder to make decisions when you are with that person every day.

When you feel you have tried hard to help that person to help you, and the behaviours are still the same, you will have no alternative but to consider if you are willing to allow this person to 'affect' you any more. This may mean a longer trial separation or leaving that person for good. It may hurt because you still have feelings for them, but no one is worth making yourself ill for. It's a tough decision, but one that may impact on your life positively.

Learn to say NO


Anxiety Caused by Your Grown up Children

Just because we are parents, it doesn't mean we have to put up with unacceptable behaviour from our children. It's often easier to control when they are young and growing up, but our adult kids can be a source of great stress, and we can feel powerless to stop their behaviour.

If it is evident to your adult offspring that they are causing you a lot of stress, then there can be an element of selfishness or thoughtlessness going on. Recognise this; see this for what it is because we can all make excuses up for them, but a willingness to cause you great anxiety for the sake of it isn't acceptable, and they simply must take responsibility for their actions.

Tell them how they make you feel. Make sure they know your limits. Failure to take notice isn't excusable, and you will have to distance yourself if needs be. Learn to say 'NO' to children old enough to take responsibility for their lives and actions.


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