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Have you ever had that one negative friend who never has anything positive to say? If you have, you will know that sometimes that negative energy can effect you as well. Life is not as easy as we think it to be. And sometimes things like negative thoughts make it more complicated. Specially when people around you are negative. So here are some ways to deal with them instead of avoiding them.
1. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.
It’s always easier to offer someone compassion if you try to understand where they’re coming from. But that can’t completely justify bad behavior. If you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly by reacting with the same bad behavior, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).
It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. But I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.” This might help you approach them with both kindness and firmness so they don’t bring you down with them.
2. Remember the numbers.
What a sad reality, that someone has so much pain inside them they have to act out just to feel some sense of relief–even if that relief comes from getting a rise out of people. When you remember how much a difficult person is suffering, it’s easier to stay focused on minimizing negativity, as opposed to defending yourself.
3. Don’t try to solve or fix them. Just aim to help them.
This goes back to the ideas I mentioned above. I know my depressed friend will rant about life’s injustices as long as I let her. Part of me feels tempted to play amateur psychiatrist, get her talking, and then try to help her reframe situations into a more positive light.
Then I remind myself that I can’t change her whole way of being in one phone call. She has to want that. I also can’t listen for hours on end, as I’ve done in the past. But I can listen compassionately for a short while and then help her focus on something positive right now, in this moment.
4. Maintain the relationship based on reality as it is.
With my friend, I’m always wishing she could be more positive. I consistently put myself in situations where I feel bad because I want to help, because I want her to be happy. I’ve recently realized the best I can do is accept her as she is, let her know I believe in her ability to be happy, and then give her space to make the choice.
5. Question what you’re getting out of it.
Like I mentioned above, we often get something out of relationships with negative people. Get real honest with yourself: have you fallen into a caretaker role because it makes you feel needed? Have you maintained the relationship so you can gossip about this person in a holier-than-thou way with others? Do you have some sort of stake in keeping the things the way they are?
Questioning yourself helps you change the way you respond–which is really all you can control. You can’t make someone think, feel, or act differently. You can be as kind as possible or as combative as possible, and still not change reality for someone else. All you can control is what you think and do–and then do your best to help them without hurting yourself.