Hello friends! We hear all the time to eliminate negativity in our lives. I think that is good advice in general. However, there are some negative people in our lives that we can’t cut out entirely. What is the best way to deal with these people? Do we try to change them? Do we avoid them at all costs? How do we show love to someone that is constantly raining on our positive parade? It is tough, but there is a way to show them love without trying to change them or avoiding them completely.
(This post does contain affiliate Links. If you click on them and make a purchase, I do receive a small commission. Thank you for your support! You can read more in my disclosure. ) This post was written after reading a book by Elizabeth Baker entitled “Living With Eeyore: How to Positively Love the Negative People in your Life” If you like what you read here and want more details, then, by all means, check out her book!
Why Do Some People Walk Around With a Rain Cloud Over Their Heads?
The first step to making it easier to love a negative person is understanding where they come from. Understanding WHY they are negative will not change the fact that they are negative, but it will help our frustration in dealing with them. Being negative is easy. You have to WORK to be positive, but being negative just seems to happen. Some people have this natural inclination more than others.
It may be that they are going through a hard time in another part of their lives and what you see is transference. For whatever it is worth, if this is the case, then know that that person probably considers you “safe,” and knows that you love them and will not leave them, so they are free to express negative emotions around you. This may not change what is going on, but it may help you to not take it so personally.
Another possibility is that can stem from their background and/or unresolved emotions. This usually delves pretty deep and you may have to really get to know the person to realize this. The person themselves may not realize it. If this person is close to you, then try to get to know them a little better. See if you can understand where the negativity is coming from.
Unseen Gifts from Negative People
While your own personal “Eeyore” may seem more like a white elephant gift than a real one, they actually can bring some good into your life. While they may not always be the life of the party, they can be the reason the party is thrown in the first place.
While you may be overwhelmingly positive, a negative person can balance the scales a bit. They may point out problems that you do not see and alert you to possible pitfalls or holes in your reasoning. A negative person is very good at spotting potential problems in plans.
There are all kinds of examples in our lives, and a negative person that we have regular contact with is no exception. They may serve as an example of how you do not want to view things, or they may also be a more positive example as well.
For instance, a negative person may say “I am afraid of the house catching on fire,” and may expand on that fear for a while. However, if they are allowed to talk about it all out, there may be a “but” that comes along at the end. Such as “I am afraid of the house catching on fire, but I always check the coffee pot before I leave the house and make sure the clothes dryer is turned off.” Or “I am afraid of ending up in the nursing home, but I am doing good so far and I am determined to make it on my own as long as I can.”
That is stating the fear and then confronting it head-on. When we refuse to let our fears control us that is courage.
“Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” Have you ever heard that saying? Or perhaps “Can’t see the forest for the trees”? These are both quotes that reference perspective. When something is bothering me and eating at me it seems really big. At that given moment in time, it feels like to me that I have the worse problems in the world, and everyone else should be able to see that. Is that true? Of course not, but that’s how it FEELS, even if it isn’t reality. Negative people almost always have problems. Whether or not the issue actually IS big, it seems like it is to them. Loving a negative person can help us examine our own perspective about our own problems. In the grand scheme of things, how much does your problem really matter? Is it a mountain or a molehill?
Eviction notice: Mountain!
Money is tight until payday: Molehill
Family Member Passed Away: Mountain!
Family Member said something that hurt your feelings (that you are pretty sure they didn’t mean): Molehill
Serious health scare: Mountain!
The whole family has the stomach bug: Molehill
I spend way too much time stewing over molehills sometimes. When you stop, back up, and put your problems into perspective, you sometimes realize that those things that looked (and felt like) mountains, are actually molehills.
Opportunities for Good Deeds
Love can take many forms. One of those is doing something nice for someone else. When you are in the company of a person that is constantly negative, there are many opportunities for you to do good deeds. They do not always have to be big things. Do little things with big love. This will not only mean something to the person that receives the kindness, but it helps you too. I wrote an earlier post on the Effects of a Random Act of Kindness. They are never wasted.
Talking with a Negative Person
There are 3 main steps to talking with a negative person and not being dragged down until your nice sunshiny parade is soggy wet and miserable. They are 1) Look at them 2) Reflect their feelings and 3) Escape! The first two also apply to just about anyone that you have a conversation with. They are just good practices for effective communication in general.
1) Look at them
When you talk to anyone, it is good practice to look at them. It lets them know that you are paying attention and that they are important. It lets them know that you are really listening. When I say “really listening” I mean listen with the intent of understanding their message, and not with the intent of simply formulating your response. This is referred to as “active listening.”
2) Reflect their Feelings
This one is HUGE! This is the key that will unlock meaningful conversations, not just with the negative person in your life that you love, but with anyone that you love. It works particularly well if they are upset. All too often I jump to try to solve people’s problems instead of simply listening and reflecting feelings. I’m a “fixer” I want to make it all better right now! Most of the time what people really want is to be understood. They can solve their own problems, but they need someone to listen to and understand how they feel.
To Reflect Feelings successfully, listen to 2 things: Content and feelings. Then, repeat them back to the person. If you got both right, then you will notice an immediate effect on the other person. They feel SO understood! If you are wrong, then they will correct you, and you will be given another opportunity.
This one may seem a little mean, but it’s not. There is only so much that you can listen to at a time. Have an escape route planned! This protects your sanity and keeps you from being worn out. It comes with a “but” though. That “but” is escape BUT come back. Go visit for a time, but have an escape route planned. “Oh, look at the time, I have to go now, but I will be back to see you next week. Love you!” The coming back gives the person a great deal of security. You also have to follow through. Come back when you said you would, or if something happens and you can’t, then do the polite thing and call to let them know ahead of time.
Dealing With Criticism
Many times negative people can come across to the ones that they love as very critical. This can be very hurtful. Many times, they are trying to help. What is meant as “constructive criticism” becomes “deconstructive.” Often, the people dealing the criticism don’t realize how it comes across or how it sounds. Criticism comes from 3 main places: 1) Pride 2) Fear 3) Anger.
Pride is probably the most common source of criticism. As people, we often think that our ideas are right and better than other people’s. If another person would just do things OUR way, their lives would be SO much better! So the other person is told over and over again. This method, of course, does not work very well, but helping is the primary intention.
Fear is another common source of criticism. If you are dealing with criticism out of fear, then know that the person LOVES you, and most likely loves you deeply. They love you so much that it is unbearable to see you in pain or about to make a mistake if they can help prevent it! (Again, keep in mind that they are trying to help you.) While this can be annoying, it is at least comforting to know that it is based on good intentions.
3) Anger (Revenge)
I hesitate to mention this one because it’s not nice. Fortunately, I think this is one of the least common sources of criticism. That’s good because this one above all others hurts the worst. This form of criticism can take the form of sarcasm, “jokes” with sharp barbs, or cutting remarks. If this is the kind of criticism that you are dealing with, I will pray for you. Know that the person that does this is unhappy with themselves and is lashing out. How we treat others is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. While I know this will not make it any easier to deal with, perhaps keeping this in mind will lessen the pain a bit.
Defenses Against Criticism
- Surround yourself with positives – You can listen to happy music, turn off the news, listen to a motivational podcast, read an inspiring book, find a joke of the day, or pin inspiring quotes on Pinterest. I have some inspiring quotes in the “Words of Inspiration” section of my blog. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it is something that makes you happy and lifts you up. I have also found that exercising outside can lift my spirits as well.
-See 5 Ways to Increase Your Happiness for more
- Escape, but come back –Have a place that you can go to escape for a little bit. Let your negative person know that you will be back, though, and follow through.
I hope that these tips help you to deal with the negative people in your life. I know it can be a challenge, but remember that they have their good points as well. Try to concentrate on seeing the good parts and less on the flaws. You will find more of what you are looking for either way. I also find it helpful to remember that sometimes the people that need love the most ask for it in the most unlovable ways. Try to let the negatives and the criticisms roll off like water off a duck’s back. It is not always easy, but you will be happier for it. No good deed or small kindness is ever wasted.
If you want to read more strategies and details on how to deal with Negative People in your life, then check out the book by Elizabeth Baker titled “Living With Eeyore: How to Positively Love the Negative People in Your Life” Her book was the basis from which this article was written.