The question comes up a lot:
How do I deal with negative people in my life?
The common advice is to just cut them out. Get rid of them. Step away from toxic people.
I’m sure you’ve heard that you’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so why hang with the downers?
I’ve also heard it said that you need to “separate to elevate.”
I don’t believe that’s always the case, because wherever you go, you’ll always take yourself with you.
The negative people might still show up, just with different faces.
I believe that instead of separating, you need to INTEGRATE in order to elevate.
While it’s true that it makes no sense to hang out with haters if you want to live a happy, positive and abundant life, it’s not always as easy to just cut them out of your life when, say, they’re you’re sibling, parent, or even someone you chose to live the rest of your life with, like your spouse.
What do you do with THOSE negative people?
How do you integrate THAT?
Just getting divorced or cutting off a close family member isn’t always as simple as well intending people might advise.
Of course, if someone is toxic to the point of being dangerous or destructive and is unwilling to do any work on that, then it makes sense not to enable that kind of behavior in your own life, but what if someone’s just super cranky?
It can be a lot easier to pull someone down than to lift someone up, simply because of the fact that our brains and bodies are wired to pay more attention to the negative.
Why is that?
Those of us who have made it this far on the evolutionary scale have been able to foresee and respond to danger. We lived, and so our genes were passed on.
Some of us might be hyperaware of dangers that aren’t even there, and be more negative about them, or worried that any little thing might go wrong, and be pretty annoying to be around.
When you understand that we need MORE positive stuff to outweigh the negative, you can be more equipped to train your brain to stay in a positive place.
You can be less susceptible to being triggered by the negative people in your life.
The people in our lives who are closest to us are often mirrors, and when they irritate us the most, they are acting as our teachers.
What are they showing you that you are getting so riled up over?
Do you share their fears that they’re blowing out of proportion?
Get a hold of yourself and remember how what you attend to is often what expands.
As James Redfield is known to have said:
“Where your attention goes, energy flows.”
You must be hung up with the fact that people or someone or your partner is so negative that you are reading this blog…
It gets under your skin and irritates you so perhaps in some way that is reflected back at them?
Recognize how your reaction might even cause them to dig their heels even more to their stance on how horrible things are.
This comes up a lot with entrepreneurial partners who feel that their spouses are holding them back and who feel a lack of support. I say more about this one here.
It’s critical to note, however, that we are interdependent and impact each other.
We easily get caught up in negative cycles with each other, reacting to each other’s negative emotions with more escalating negative emotions, none of which are actually about what is REALLY going on at a deeper level.
Usually if there is a big disconnect between you and another person you are close to, it’s not necessarily about how negative they are, but about both of your fears of not belonging, not being valued, not being important, not being understood or not being safe and secure.
To deal with the haters that you can’t just cut out of your life like a gob of gum in your hair, take advantage of the opportunity to look at yourself, to look in the mirror, and to learn the lesson.
What are they reflecting to you about yourself?
(I say more about that here for you entrepreneurs feeling like your partners are unsupportive.)
It’s also important to know that because emotions are contagious, in close relationships, the strongest emotion in the room tends to dictate the emotion that will be shared if people are connected. But you need a LOT more positive than negative, because of that whole evolution thing.
Your job is to not fall down the rabbit hole of negativity.
Take care of yourself, be mindful and do what you need to do to stay in a good feeling place.
Take note of your triggers and learn to respond and be mindful instead of react, thereby making the cycle of disconnect even worse.
If this means a more distant relationship with someone, then so be it, but I imagine that feeling distant and happy is preferable than feeling distant and overwhelmed with negativity.
So how do you do this?
Here are a few things to do on the regular:
- Don’t absorb their negativity so easily by taking really good care of yourself and being mindful of how YOU are feeling. Again, respond and don’t react when you start to feel triggered.
- Practice gratitude daily. Feel intensely how much you appreciate the things in your life that you have, whether it’s your health, clean water, fresh air, blooming flowers, a roof over your head or certain people or pets in your life. Don’t hold back with appreciation, gratitude knows no redundancy.
- Start focusing on what you really love about this negative person. Let them know. Don’t get upset if they don’t seem to hear you, and trust that your love and appreciation made it in there somehow. If it didn’t, no big deal, you are still benefiting from feeling good about this person.
Because energy flows where attention goes, you’ll start to notice a positive shift. You’ll start to feel better. You’ll get less triggered.
As a result, I bet your dynamic will improve.
That negative person might not be so negative after all.
If that’s not the case, you may grow more distant and experience a separation of sort, but it will feel right and you will be less agonized by the situation.
***If you’re a couple in distress, find an Emotionally Couples Therapist near you to help you get through this together.***