Dealing with Negative People

One of the principles of achievement is to surround yourself with positive people, people who support your dreams and believe in possibilities, and stay away from negative folks. This is great advice, but given your current family members and job situation, it may not be practical.

What do you do when physical proximity, shared job responsibilities or family relationships force you into contact with a doom-and-gloom personality? Is there a way to continue to march cheerfully and determinedly towards your goals? Whether a negative person attacks you directly by ridiculing your hopes, “I don’t know anyone who has made it as a singer at your age” or simply quelches your joy by stomping into the room and radiating ill-will, you can and should learn how to resuscitate your own positive frame-of-mind.

You need to find some negativity-venom antidote. Many people walk through life with a chip on their shoulder and resentment in their heart, attacking anyone bold enough to suggest that the world is a wonderful place. Just like snake venom that is normally deadly can be countered with the correct antidote or antivenom, so too can depressing people be countered by quickly injecting other ingredients into your situation. Here are some negativity antidotes to consider:

Listening to Music: For me, classical music brings back a peaceful, purposeful state of mind. Others might like more popular music. Whatever your taste, music is a powerful mood-altering medicine. Carry an iPod or keep your favorite tunes on your laptop, along with small headphones and try this auditory antidote.

Visiting a Favorite Location: Walking by water (beach, lake or stream) often can steady nerves. Alternatively, climbing high enough to see city skylines or mountain overlooks can literally change your perspective and with it your frame of mind. If you can’t get there in person, try to conjure up a mental picture of a place you have often been. For me this is sunset at North Lake with crisp nighttime air and mountains in the background. When I picture the view across the lake, I can feel peace and relaxation returning to me.

Move: Dance. Take a walk. Get some exercise. Go see a friend. Go hug someone or pet your dog or cat. Laugh, whether you can think of something funny or not.

Breathing Techniques: Take a deep breath and breathe in new ideas, breathe out negativity and doubts. Breathe in energy, breathe out worries. Breathe slowly. Breathe in relaxation, breathe out stress. Breathe in confidence, breathe out distractions.

Substitute Positive Words for Negative: Be ready to have constructive words to supplant the negative ones. If you have a favorite inspirational quote or poem, say that to yourself. If you have an affirmation of achievement that you say to yourself each morning, say that whenever you feel beaten down by naysayers. One thing I say to myself when I run into a complainer is, “Complaining about complaining is still complaining.” Meaning that yes, complaining is bad which is why I shouldn’t do it, which means I HAVE to forget about whatever has just been said to me. It shifts my focus away from whatever the negative person said, and back onto ME and my actions.

Finally, Try to Limit Your Exposure: Using these techniques, you may still find yourself slowing down and losing focus when faced with a lot of negativity. Even Superman was weakened by Kryptonite. When you feel your energy sapping, try to get away. Even a reprieve as temporary as excusing yourself and going to the bathroom may help you regain your strength. Maybe the dog needs walking or you thought you heard your phone ringing or you should check something you left in the microwave. Excuse yourself out of negative conversations.

May your days be filled with the sound of applause. May giant smiles and friendly waves greet you. But should you face a judgmental, critical, nasty pile of discouragement walking around and pretending to be a person, I hope these tips will protect you from negativity and help you feel better quickly. Comment below with your own favorite way of dealing with negative people.

Guest Post written by Anne Emerick, author of The Day I Met Dr. Seuss and creator of No-Work Spanish audiobooks, an unusual way to learn Spanish.

2 thoughts on “Dealing with Negative People

  1. Tempesta

    Hi Will,
    Thanks for all the great encouragement and resources!

    Usually when faced with negativity, while battling my own slips into negative mind states and/or anger, I try to release it and breathe. Alas, many times I still feel it creeping in.

    What to do when the most negative person in your life is your spouse? Obviously, you cannot change that person. Getting away from them every time isn’t a valid option. Negativity and pessimism abound, and a lot of “Why me’s?”. I am struggling with how to deal with this. I am working on shifting my energy, becoming positive, happy and working on abundance, but I am constantly bombarded by my spouse. I especially struggle with the children. They have begun to pick up our bad habits, and have become very resistant to listening to their parents.

    I basically have become fed up with my current state because I know life is supposed to be fulfilling and positive and full of wonder. I have a long road ahead of me, but I will succeed. Any advice on how to shift moods when facing almost constant walls of resistance and negativity?

    One of the hardest things for me is to feel joy and happiness. I buried them somewhere some time ago and am working on reclaiming them. Basically what I usually do is suppress, suppress, and I know this is why I now have to undertake the journey I am choosing now.

    Any advice is appreciated!
    Best wishes!

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