Coping with Negativity
I've got someone in my life right now who's always criticising me. No matter what I do, or how hard I try, it's never good enough and she can't resist telling me. Mostly she does this in public, as if the extra attention builds her case against me. Usually, it washes right off and I am able to respond positively to her and ignore her comments. However, it got me thinking about how negativity is such a miserable state, why some people just can't resist putting others down and what we can do about it.
These are the people who don't know when to quit. Their very existence is a tale of what went wrong or what's going to go wrong. They can't seem to find the positives in anything and they're always happy to point out what's wrong with your life. Maybe they've had a bad experience and they don't know how to let go. Perhaps they were conditioned to negativity as a child and it's simply their "modus operandi." I'm not trying to make excuses for their behaviour but I do believe if we can begin to understand it, we can adjust our reaction accordingly.
Next time you're around someone who makes snide remarks or unpleasant comments, stop and take a good look at them. Often their put-downs are a shield. A barrier that stops the world seeing who they really are. Or they use criticisms and negativity to protect themselves from something they see as threatening....like you!
Now I don't think I'm threatening and I'm guessing you're not either. But when I'm with this particular negativity addict, I stir up something in her that she's not ready to face. I make some part of her feel insecure and her natural reaction is to criticise me. She probably doesn't even realise she's doing it for this reason. To her I probably feel like an irritation. You know when someone walks into your space and you think, ughh! I have someone in my life who used to REALLY make me uncomfortable. She only had to walk in the room and it felt like someone rubbing a cheese grater down my aura! My natural reaction was to close off and criticise her, but that only made me feel worse. Finally I decided to take action and you can too, by building your own positivity.
Building your own Positivity
Here's a few things to try next time you're in a situation where you're being criticised:
- Recognise this isn't about you. It's about them. All you've done is sparked something in them that makes them feel insecure. You can even measure the depth of their insecurity by the level of their negativity towards you. You're mirroring something they don't like about themselves and if they don't know how to deal with it then their behaviour is likely to become more irrational. I repeat, it's about them, not YOU.
- Don't take it personally (see above) and don't get involved. When you get emotionally involved and begin to retaliate you only fuel the fire. This is not a rational, conscious argument and unless you can bring it to that level for them, you're only fanning the flames.
- Remember who you are. When anyone unleashes their cynicism on me, I stand tall and smile. I sense there's something miserable inside them that needs help and I count my blessings that I don't share that feeling. I focus on how happy I am. I concentrate on being grateful for everything in my life. In short I blast their negativity with positivity. It can't be nice to feel that miserable inside. Imagine how dark and desperate you'd have to feel to constantly pick on someone? It's not always easy but I try and send them love and compassion. And I smile. A lot. Have you ever tried berating someone who's very smiley and open with you...it's not easy.
- Associate negativity with something positive. This works if you've got someone constantly flooding your life with negativity, or if there's someone who just sets your teeth on edge. You have to repeat this a lot to start with but it soon becomes second nature and eventually every time you think of, or are near this person, it makes you smile. First close your eyes and picture the person who pours negativity on you, or who stirs the negativity addict within you. Next picture something that makes you happy. Really concentrate and feel whatever this is. Focus on how you look. What you are wearing. Who you are with. How happy/successful/fulfilled you feel? Indulge yourself in this. It can be a real experience you've had or something you want to happen. Just concentrate on it until you can feel yourself smiling and all negativity has disappeared. Keep repeating this exercise until everytime you see or try and think of this person, your happy image pops into your head and hey presto, you feel great.
If you need a bit of support then I highly recommend Paul McKenna's CDs on positivity. It's like getting the feelgood factor and supercharging it!
Remember this - Positivity creates confidence and confidence creates success.