The effects of negative people
Recently I found myself in a situation where I felt unnecessarily challenged; every word questioned, in quite a condescending manner. It wasn’t by a manager, parent or an authoritative figure that I may expect it from…although that would probably still be quite annoying. No, this was a random person, who didn’t challenge to discuss or offer support but seemingly wanted to belittle.
This was difficult to manage I’m not going to lie. I welcome constructive discussions, even criticisms that yeah, sometimes are challenging and require assertiveness but I am not an argumentative person (*every ex-boyfriend disagrees*) but unfortunately this was the way it was heading. When a number of people are also present it feels almost embarrassing that a fair conversation can’t be conducted. To be honest I felt like exploding with frustration but it was one of those typical swan moments – legs kicking and screaming under water but maintaining a calm composure on the surface. Although I’m sure my face probably gave it away.
I had to let the situation lie but it doesn’t just ‘lie’ does it. The feelings of confusion and frustration continued to stay with me and shaking it off wasn’t as easy as just ‘getting over it’. That evening I had a social gathering and I really did not want to go as I felt a bit shit…. but I went and so bloody glad I did! It boosted my mood and I forgot about that meaningless incident for a while. Yeah, the thoughts crept back afterwards but it felt more manageable as I could balance it with the positive experience I had with friends.
How it feels
Everyone will manage such situations differently but generally I believe people do not like confrontation and wouldn’t want to get entangled in such negativity. Anyone who’s kinda on my wave length here should be able to relate to the feelings of frustration – wanting to shout, scream, retaliate or simply cry. Inside body *temper tantrum* outside body *mature adult*. Sometimes it sucks having to behave like an adult.
The way other people treat us really does have an impact on our happiness and how we feel about ourselves. This is something that continues to baffle me; we let other people decide how we feel? What the hell! But it’s so damn true. Negativity can instantly drag our moods down and no matter how much we say “don’t let it get to you – just forget about it, it’s no big deal!” it’s very hard to actually listen to that rational voice and allow it to filter through to our feelings.
Why does it have this kind of effect?
Psychology today explains our brain is naturally sensitive to negativity which has its pros and cons. The pros are that our brain is ready to respond to our defence, which is handy if we are in danger. But not so handy when the situation is much less threatening, like someone casually being an arsehole to us (that’s the con side). Despite the level of threat, our brain naturally hones in on that negativity dragging our happy mood with it.
Well, that’s bloody depressing in itself! Should we just give up if the brain is going to do its own thing anyway? But we don’t have to give up! There are things we can do to fight against it to remain on a positive path rather than being pulled down the gully.
How can we manage negative people?
Firstly, is it possible to discuss it with the person? Is a rational conversation achievable? The person may not realise how they are making us feel. Obviously, this isn’t always going to work or we may not feel it’s even doable but sometimes people are oblivious to how they are making us feel and the majority of people wouldn’t intentionally want to upset us. If you think this might work, aim to do it when you are in a good headspace!
Negative approach to life
Maybe the negativity isn’t personal; perhaps the person is dragging you down with their general negative approach to life. We can all relate to a neighbour or colleague that does nothing but moan and jeez, it gets draining. In a previous job my colleagues and I started a rule that we had to match a negative with a positive. For example, “it’s a rubbish day today, it’s raining and cold BUT at least my plants will get a good watering”. This approach allows a gentler and more humorous way to achieve positivity. And it may make that person aware of how negative they are being.
Is the only option to avoid them?
If talking or positive activities doesn’t work, is it possible to avoid them? I wouldn’t advise this as the first option as we can suddenly find ourselves in a spiral of running away from things but sometimes it’s the only option. Or at least until we feel in a better mindset to manage the situation. If it’s a work-related matter, can you move desk? Or occasionally work from home for a break. It may be worth discussing your feelings with a member of management, family member or friend so they can support you and offer ideas to move forward.
The power of empathy
Empathy is also a powerful tool. Does it help to try and understand why the person is behaving in this way? Are they fighting their own demons? Maybe there’s stuff going on we aren’t even aware of. This allows us to relate to the person and understand it isn’t actually about us, it’s about them and maybe they need understanding too.
Or perhaps having a better understanding of ourselves will help us recognise why that comment or action hurt so much. I’ve had occasions where people have said something in jest and it caused upset but when I unravelled it, I realised it was because they hit an area that I felt particularly conscious of. Sometimes it’s pure coincidence that a person is responding to the area that we already lack confidence in. By being more self-aware we can learn to manage our feelings better and understand why that incident caused more upset than is normal for us.
Remember our strengths
It’s also helpful to have a reminder what we like about ourselves. When you are feeling in a good place write a list of things that you like about yourself; the good things you have done and your achievements. Make it big and bold! Write it on paper, on your phone or email it yourself and save! This will be handy to have when someone’s dragging you down or you’re just having a bad day. Look at the list and remember how you felt when you wrote it and why you are all of those things. Similarly, you could ask family and friends to write a list of the things they like and admire about you to refer to whenever you need it! This will help to focus on the positives.
So, we don’t have to give in to the brain’s powers, we can fight against it and climb out of that dark hole with all our might.
A couple of other ideas are to spend time with people, have conversation, watch a good uplifting film, give someone a hug and smile! All else fails, the answer may be a good sleep and time. Sometimes time is the only healer.
You may also want to read about taking notice of the world around us to promote a calmer state of mind – Don’t forget to Look up
“Don’t let negative people steal your inner peace.”