April 24th, 2019

How to Deal With Negative People When We Change

Reading Time: 4 minutes

You began your Fabulous journey with the intention of affecting positive changes in yourself and your life. From the simple act of drinking water each morning, you’ve begun to build a positive and energizing daily routine you look forward to completing. You’re maybe even noticing changes in yourself already. You feel more upbeat and less fatigued. You’re stressing less. Your body and mind are growing stronger each day.

As you experience these exciting changes, you might begin to notice that people around you aren’t as receptive or happy for you as you might have expected. It might seem like, all of a sudden, people you once loved and respected have turned sour overnight.  Where you expected support, you’re instead being undercut by their complaints or pessimism. Your positive attitude is met by their negative thinking. It’s almost as if they feel hurt or threatened by your happiness and success.

What can you do when faced with people like this? Here are a few suggestions.

Identify Negative People (And the Source of Their Negativity)

Negative people all share one common trait: Fear. Whether it be a fear of rejection, danger, or something else, they are all driven by deep-seated fears. Once you realize this, it becomes easier to empathize with pessimists or naysayers, or at least better understand where they’re coming from.

These fears can manifest in a number of ways depending on the individual, but here are some of their common traits:

  • They complain constantly.
  • They expect the worst from life.
  • They always perceive themselves as the victim.
  • They find the bad in everything.
  • They are impossible to please.

Sometimes, negative people can drain you without you even realizing it. If they’re someone you’ve been close with for a while, like a friend or a beloved family member, you might be used to their negativity. But just because it’s normal for them doesn’t mean it has to be normal for you! Being able to identify people like this in your life is the first and most crucial step in learning to overcome their negativity.

If you’re struggling with negative thoughts of your own, try The Cloud Visualization exercise in Make Me Fabulous and watch them drift away.

Focus on Your Own Attitude

It might seem counterintuitive to put the focus on yourself when trying to deal with negative people, but it’s actually one of the most useful things you can do. Trying to alter someone else’s behavior is impossible; you can’t change people who aren’t willing to change themselves. It doesn’t help that we have a natural instinct to avoid criticism, since it feels so much like rejection.

In fact, trying to control anything but your own behavior will only end in disappointment. As we’ve learned from the Stoic philosophers, the only real power we wield is power over ourselves, our attitudes, and our behaviors. So, if you can’t change a negative person’s attitude, try focusing on your own.

One thing you can do to keep negativity in check is to take special note of when you find yourself feeling drained by it. Have some tools in place to help you deal with other people’s negativity when faced with it. Can you flip their negative comments into something positive? Can you create some distance between the two of you so you can collect your thoughts? Can you inject extra positivity into the situation to balance out their negativity? Give it a try!

Want to learn more about Stoicism? Start The Art of Stoic Living journey on Fabulous today!

Employ the 3 C’s

There’s only so much you can do on your own when dealing with negative people. If you’ve done everything you can and still find yourself exhausted by the negativity around you, it may be time to get other people involved.

Consult With Others

Seek advice from a trusted, unbiased third party. Because you’re so deeply entrenched in the situation, you may not be seeing the whole picture. Having someone who isn’t personally involved can bring you a fresh perspective while also validating your frustrations and giving you a safe space to vent them. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your feelings with another person, try writing them down in your journal.

Confront the Negative Person

It’s true that you can’t change people who aren’t willing to change themselves, but what if they don’t know their behavior is causing problems? Before you find yourself so overwhelmed that you explode, try calmly pulling them aside and privately explaining your feelings to them. They might not realize they’ve been hurting you this whole time!

Cut Your Ties With Them

If the previous two techniques don’t work, it might be time to consider the ultimatum. You are entitled to your own happiness as much as anyone. If the negative people in your life can’t respect that, you’re probably better off without them, or at least limiting your exposure to them. It might hurt to lose a friend or loved one, but it likely won’t hurt more than the suffering you’re already feeling because of them.

Stay Positive!

The greatest tool you have for combating negative people is your own positive attitude. Not only is positivity better for your health, it’s contagious! Lead by example and others will surely follow.

But what can you do to keep yourself in high spirits? Try any (or all!) of the following:

  • Keep a daily gratitude journal.
  • Commit random acts of kindness.
  • Meditate regularly.
  • Surround yourself with other positive people.
  • Spend time in nature.

Above all, remember that life is like a roller coaster in that it has its ups and downs. Sometimes, you’ll just be in a foul mood, and all you can really do is ride it out. That’s perfectly okay. Just don’t make it a habit!