Negativity and Seven Ways to Deal With It

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

~Mary Engelbreit

There are many things in life we wish we could change. It is usually not possible to change all the things we usually would like though. However, there are some things–for example–if we dislike the way our furniture is arranged in our home, then yes, we could probably change that.  Nevertheless, looking at the BIGGER picture, there are certain things we just cannot change.  People are the biggest one! We cannot change other people unfortunately. We can only change ourselves or change the way we think about other people.

For example…We all know someone in our life that is negative. I know just such a person that is both negative and narcissistic. I am a very sensitive person by nature and this negative person in my life makes a habit out of saying unnecessary, rude comments in a passive, aggressive way every chance they get to everyone around them.  It would be easy to just walk away and never talk to them again, right? Not in this case! She is my friend’s mother and will indirectly be in my life whether I like it or not, despite her disrespectful behavior to me and others. Don’t get me wrong, I am human and would love to just let her have it verbally right back when she makes her unwelcome comments that are deliberately negative.

Instead of verbally going off on her the same way she does me and everyone else, I am choosing to change the way I think about it instead of letting my ego take charge (not an easy task). It sounds so undesirable to just take it (the negativity) but necessary if I have any hope of being able to keep my sanity around her as well as learn and grow for my own well-being.

We have to learn to accept others the way they are despite the adverse circumstances. In my case, given that she is not going away in my life and that she will never change. It is important for me to keep a positive perspective that I can choose to create the way I view it. If I give in to the way she acts and behaves and view it negative, nothing gets accomplished and I would only be hurting myself (as I have already struggled with). I have learned that my energy is too valuable to be drained by challenging unhealthy negative arguments by confronting the person with defense and more negativity.  She would view my defensive reaction as a win and it would provoke her negativity further making more of an argument circular with no end in sight. I have also learned that it is our ego that tries talking us into defending our way through an argument and wasting our good energy trying to persuade the other person to view things the way we do. Why is that even necessary? Convincing other people to view things our way or to feel the way we do proves what? 

It’s important to remember we are all allowed to feel the way we do and are validated by ourselves with our feelings (even if we disagree with the other person, our feelings are always valid).  Therefore, instead of engaging in a conflict that would most likely not turn out to be productive. I am choosing to take control by learning how to manage my own feelings about this negative person and manage the way I receive their disrespectful comments and how to respond and interact in an unreceptive environment so I can avoid feeling devalued, cut-down or lessened that depletes my good energy. I am enjoying a much happier me because of taking this approach and I’m learning that I am becoming stronger to endure her negativity but not letting myself fall victim to my ego.

Choosing to change the way you look at something that you cannot control will empower you! You cannot control others but you can control yourself by giving yourself the gift of love, respect and all the things you deserve that you do not get from others. Remember, this life is about you and only you can change the way you think and react!

Here is a quick list that may help you in dealing with conflict and negative people:

1. Try not to assume

Assuming is the biggest reason we all fall victim to an argument or negative thinking. We assume the worst and therefore start creating a story in our mind of how we think it is rather than how it may actually be. When we have a negative mindset, our body language reflects that and it becomes difficult to be open-minded or even offer consideration to the other person even if we feel they have wronged us.

2. Allow others to be negative without giving into it yourself

Let’s face it, we live in world where negativity exists and it affects us all at some point. It’s always easier to remain objective when we resist the urge to let the negativity soak into our own energy. Removing emotion makes it easier to make constructive, clear decisions for ourselves. It also gives us the opportunity to try to understand where someone else is coming from with an open mind. If we show negative people that we don’t condone or support their negativity, we are indirectly giving them the opportunity and incentive to make a positive change that often times they may really want deep down.  Approaching a negative person with kindness, compassion and understanding will uplift them and you while diffusing any hostility.

3. Create a positive space around yourself

You might be thinking how do I create a positive space around myself? Some people use meditation techniques by visualizing a white light, some pray, some use positive affirmations and others may use flower essence fragrances. Regardless of your preference, remind yourself that you can only control the space you create around yourself. When you come in contact and interact with the negative person, reinforce that positive space around yourself. When their negativity becomes too strong, walk away. Do not allow it to penetrate your good energy bubble. Say something really positive to counteract the negative word. For example, if they say: I hate you, reply with: I respect your feelings but I hope you consider changing your mind because I love you! This can help reverse their thinking and keep your protective positive boundary in effect.

4. Learn from the encounter

We can always learn from dealing with a negative encounter. We often gain something positive out of a relationship with negative people. For example–have you ever fallen into a caretaker role in a relationship because it makes you feel needed? Playing an amateur psychologist role may attempt to get to the core root of the problem. This knowledge may help you and help them start to re-frame their thinking into a more positive light. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not your job to fix them but you may learn through the process of trying to help them. You can’t control how they respond or receive your intended help. You also can’t control how they think, feel, or act. All you can control is how you think and react as well as attempt to help them without hurting yourself. Sometimes just learning something and walking away may be best.

5. Look at the effects

When you consider how much a difficult, negative person may be suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing your own negativity, as opposed to defending yourself. People with negative lifestyles have significantly higher probabilities of stress and disease. A person’s mental state plays a huge role in their overall physical health. If a person thrives on making life difficult for people around them, you can be sure they’re doing worse for themselves.

6. Don’t take it personally

I’m a big advocate for Don Miguel Ruiz and the Four Agreements. Not taking things personally is easier said than done but it’s true. If you didn’t take things personally, think how much easier your life would be? However, I know it’s very difficult to disregard a deliberate negative comment directed right at you. Remind yourself that your feelings are valid and that you didn’t deserve the negative emotion in the person’s tone but try to weigh their comment with a willingness to learn.

7. Consider the value and reality of the relationship
In my case, I wish my friend’s mother could be a more positive person but that is out of my control. I have chosen to limit my contact and interaction with her as I feel that is in my best and highest good. I considered the fact that even though she will be an indirect, permanent person in my life, she does not bring me constructive value and therefore I have deemed her not a significant person in my life. I have to accept her in my life and for who she is. However, I do not have to build or maintain a close relationship so it’s best I remain as positive as I can when I do have limited interaction with her. When we categorize how these negative people rank in our overall lives it helps put perspective on the amount of energy we should invest in the relationship.

What negative relationships have you encountered and how have you dealt with them? Have you been able to change the way you view negativity for your own personal growth?



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