Interacting with someone who is constantly negative can be a hard task to master. Spending any length of time with that person can be emotionally draining, we come away feeling exhausted and sometimes even a little depressed!
I once worked with a girl who was constantly negative. Everything in her life was annoying her, her parents, her friends, the salary she earned, life outside of her work and inside of her work. On top of all of this, she constantly complained that she never seemed to have a boyfriend, and in some respects, it wasn’t difficult to see why! At the time we knew eachother, we were both part of a small team, just 5 or 6 of us working in a small office. Gradually over time, I saw how her constant negativity actually began to affect the dynamics of the entire team. If she came into work complaining (as she often did), the whole ‘mood’ of the office would change. Colleagues began to avoid interacting with her, even going as far as to swap a lunch break schedule so they wouldn’t have to sit with her in the canteen. After about 18 months with the company she left, within about a week of her moving on, the whole energy in the office changed, and I can honestly say, it was for the better.
I recently read somewhere that our own emotions, mood and energy patterns are influenced considerably by the five people we spend the most time with in our lives. A fascinating fact, considering how many of us spend 8 hours a day or more at work.
So how do you recognise a ‘negative’ person? Over the years these are the recurring patterns I have witnessed from the type of people I would consider to be of a negative mindset.
- They will find fault in many things, including people, and they won’t be afraid of sharing these faults with the world
- They will often portray a ‘victims’ attitude towards life
- They rarely believe the negativity that surrounds them is caused by their own doing
- They are often reluctant to embrace change
- They will often have some kind of ‘drama’ happening in their life
- They get angry or hot headed in many situations unnecessarily
- Life is all about them and their own happiness (or lack of it)
So how do we deal with these kind of people, without absorbing their negativity or feeling like we are being influenced or affected by it?
1. Try to be mindful of why they have such a negative outlook on life in the first place.
The fact is, many of people that are negative can actually be harboring feelings of insecurity or loneliness. They can often lack the love, confidence and warmth within themselves, which would help enable them to see the positive side of situations. They use negativity as a means of erecting barriers around themselves as a form of protection. When you find yourself feeling irritated or emotionally drained by someones negativity, try and be mindful of that persons own emotional state. They may not be as confident or balanced as you, or they might be suffering with stress or difficulties within their personal life.
2. Try not to engage or encourage any negativity in a conversation
Now this can be a difficult one, but if someone starts ranting on about how they aren’t happy with someone or something, by all means listen, but try not to encourage or comment on the conversation. I find a very affective way of dealing with a negative conversation is to remain silent, and thus comment rarely. Negative people thrive on people ‘agreeing’ with their negative point of view, and this can in fact just fuel more negativity. Instead, just smile occasionally and don’t interact too much. It usually doesn’t take the person very long to cotton on that the conversation isn’t heading in the right direction for you.
3. Try and switch the topic of conversation to something positive.
You can find positivity anywhere, everywhere you look in fact – you just need to open your heart. This is a very affective way of subtly changing the energy surrounding a negative conversation. Mention a great new t.v show you have watched recently, or something good that has happened in the office, how good the food is in the canteen, literally any thing that has a hint of positivity to it and keep doing it every time the conversation creeps back to something negative. I often find saying something positive about the person themselves helps diffuse the conversation from being negative. It can be something as subtle as mentioning their pretty earrings, or complementing their outfit.
4. Try and avoid too much one on one time with a negative person
It’s easier to deal with or deflect negativity when you’re surrounded by a group of ‘positive’ or happy people. One on one time with someone that is negative can be tiresome and quite frankly, irritating! So encourage ‘group time’ as much as possible. I’ve spoken before about how being outside in nature can affectively cleanse our energy fields (or auras), so encouraging any kind of meeting, activity, or event outside can be very beneficial to everyone involved. It’s quite hard to be negative out in the bright sunshine with a bunch of happy, smiling souls.
5. Protect your own personal space
This may sound a bit ‘far out’ for some people, but we are talking about the negative energies that surround certain people after all, so for me it makes perfect sense to protect your own personal space or energy field when in close contact with such people. There are many ways you can do this, but a very popular way is through visualization. I personally surround myself with a beautiful apricot/orange colour. I simply imagine this mist of colour surrounding my entire body from head to toe and as I do this my intention is to protect myself from any negativity that may drain my own energy from me. As a therapist this is something I do on a daily basis and it really does work for me. You can choose anything though, whatever you feel comfortable with. I know some healers that surround themselves with imaginary cloaks or they visualize a shield being held up in front of them. Don’t feel silly doing it, remember know one need know what you are doing if you don’t want them to. Just try it and see if you feel differently after the encounter.
6. If all else fails don’t feel guilty about moving on.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, nothing we say or do will change how people see their life or how they fit into this world. If you have tried everything, approached all aspects, but still nothing seems to be getting through and you are finding yourself constantly feeling drained, irritated or upset by someone, then it’s simply time to honor that persons own journey and move on with yours.
I have been in this position myself, and it is a hard thing to come to terms with I admit. It left me feeling really sad that the person concerned always had a drama in their life. Their problems were always the worst problems in the world and no matter what anyone tried to do to make them happy, they never really appreciated it or even acknowledged it. They were happier just wallowing deep within their own self pity, blaming everyone around them for their own misfortunes. They were also unable to see their own destructive patterns, and would become incredibly defensive or aggressive if anyone would try to gently challenge their behavior or a personal view point. I had known this person for years, and when I actually took the time to look back at the relationship in it’s full glory, it had in fact been an incredibly one sided relationship and a very stressful time throughout.
Deep down I whole heartedly wished the person well. I wanted them to experience the kind of happiness they obviously longed for, but I also had to accept I could no longer continue to ride their personal roller coaster of drama anymore. I learned if someone is constantly depleting my energy and leaving me feeling stressed or negative, then that relationship isn’t serving either of us well and the only way to stop the pattern is to move on from it completely.
If you find yourself in this situation try to always have an open heart in what the relationship may have taught you, has it tested your art of patience? has it made you more aware of the positive things you have in your own life? has it made you a little more compassionate towards others thoughts and feelings despite their negativity?
People or situations are sent to us to teach us. Remember you can always learn something positive out of something negative, you just have to be the one holding up the optimist sign in the room.