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5 Ways to Deal with the Negative People in your Life

By Lori Radun

"It is easier to avoid the effects of others' negativity when we question if an action or attitude is appropriately directed at us. If it isn't, we can choose to sidestep it and let it pass." --Sue Patton Theole
Have you ever been faced with trying to stay positive when others around you are negative? Negative people can be a challenge to be around. They will bring you down and drain your energy. A negative person can throw your best laid plans to be positive right out the window. Whether your child or spouse has an occasional negative day or you deal with a family member, friend or co-worker that is chronically negative, there are things you can do to remain positive in the face of negativity.

Let the Negativity Pass
Whatever you do, do not argue with a negative person. Arguing only adds fuel to the fire. A negative person will feed off any negativity that will strengthen his mood or attitude. I have noticed when my children are in a crabby mood, it is best to avoid trying to convince them to analyze and adjust their attitude. As soon as I take the approach of being in opposition with them, they seize the opportunity to prove to me that life stinks. Their negativity intensifies and the situation gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes the best approach is to remain silent and let the negativity pass.

Negative People Need Love
You know how difficult it can be to give love and positive attention to negative people. Unfortunately, that is often exactly what they need. Deep inside that mean and critical person is a person that is usually afraid he or she is unlovable. It is our challenge to rise above the negative attitude and love the injured person inside. How do you show love when someone is negative? You must listen to what she is trying to tell you. Acknowledge the feelings she has by saying something like, "You sound very angry right now". Even if you don't quite understand the person's feelings, know that your reality is different than someone else's. Ask how you might help the negative person. This shows legitimate interest in her happiness. Offer a hug even if you get rejected. Remember not to take a rejection of your love personally. A negative person often has difficulty receiving love from others.

If you've ever lived with a teenager, you know it can be an emotional roller coaster. My teenager is no different. One day he is a loving and happy young man; the next day he acts mean and grumpy. On these days, his self esteem and confidence is waning. As he searches to feel good about himself, he takes his struggles out on his family. In these moments, my son needs to know he is lovable. When I acknowledge his pain, he is more apt to open up to me and share what's truly on his heart. The negative feelings inside him are released because I am able to listen and love.

Set a Time Limit with Negative People
You have two minutes to complain and then time is up. Negative people need boundaries and giving them a time limit lets them know you will only tolerate a small amount of negativity. Check your watch and allow them to vent for two minutes. At the end of two minutes, tell the person it is time to focus on solutions or stop complaining. Play a game with your negative friend. Take turns coming up with solutions to her problem. Brainstorm together until you have at least 10 solutions. If your friend doesn't like this idea, simply excuse yourself from the conversation.

Stay Away from Negative People
If you have negative people in your life that are critically affecting your mental and physical health, you need to evaluate whether or not you want these people in your life. Some people are so chronically negative that you have no other choice but to remove them from your life. It's possible to do that with friends. You can find another job if your boss or other co-workers are bringing you down. Other people, such as children and spouses, are more difficult to remove from your life. In this instance, professional counseling may be the answer. To protect your well being, you need to enforce very strong boundaries with negative people.

Keep Your Own Negative Thoughts and Behaviors in Check
If you do nothing else but focus on managing your own negative thoughts and behavior, you will come a long way towards remaining positive. A negative attitude is contagious, but a positive attitude is infectious as well. Hang out with positive people that encourage you to be your best self. Use positive affirmations to overcome negative self-talk. Express your gratitude for all the positive things in your life. Take the time everyday to watch all the beautiful things going on around you. Read inspirational material and listen to joyful music. Take care of yourself spiritually. Do whatever you have to do to remain positive and happy despite the negativity you face. The world will be a better place because of you and your attitude. And you never know; you just might help a negative person make a change to a better way of living.

Copyright © 2009 Lori Radun, CEC
Lori Radun, CEC is a certified life coach for moms. To receive her newsletter, other coaching products, and the special report, "155 Things Moms Can do To Raise Great Children," go to Momnificent.

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