I recently had a question from a friend about how to deal with negative people in your life. Those people who are always complaining, or trying to bring you down, but never actually doing anything to try to help themselves. This can be difficult to deal with, especially with those who ask for your advice but never take it.
If you have made the commitment to yourself to make positive changes in your life, I commend you! Part of your success in your personal growth journey will be setting personal boundaries. You are who and what you surround yourself with, so it’s necessary to take a good hard look at what that is in your life. Negative people and negative environments, whether at home, at work, or in your friendships – are always going to bring negativity into your life and hold you back from making progress. Setting personal boundaries for what you are going to allow in your life is so important. Your personal growth journey is your own journey, and no matter how badly you want others to see your perspective, that is up to them.
Your Environment and the Content You Consume
Do you have a friend, family member, or co-worker that every single time you ask how they’re doing, without a doubt, they reply with a sigh and say, “eh, I’m okay.” So, you start to ask what’s going on because you care about them and want to make sure they’re okay. They start to tell you about the stressors in their life and what they’ve been dealing with, but it’s the same thing you gave them advice about last week. This pessimistic person in your life always sees the glass half empty, and they don’t want to take your advice. They make excuses for everything, they’ve adopted this “victim” mentality, and they don’t want to make any changes. They have the attitude that their circumstances are so terrible and it’s everyone else’s fault. But if you talk about some of the great things happening in your life, they say something along the lines of, “Oh, well that must be nice.” Sound familiar? This person tries to make us feel guilty for doing well and for creating positive changes on our own personal growth journey.
This is a negative environment, and it is toxic to be around. Ever hear the saying, “misery loves company”? It’s unfortunately very true. The worst thing about this is that your friend, family member, or co-worker, may not truly realize that they are doing this. They are so stuck in a negative mindset, stuck with their thought programming that life is hard and terrible and that happiness is out of reach, that they can’t get out of their own way.
This is also true of the content that you consume in your daily life. Do you find yourself consuming negative content, like angry or sad songs, sad movies or tv shows, following people and pages on social media that promote negativity? If you do, this is just going to reel you into the negativity even more. The content you consume is programming your mind. TV commercials are trying to grasp your attention and plant a seed in your mind, TV shows are even sometimes referred to as “your scheduled programming.” It is up to you to curate your news feed, unfollow negative people and pages, so that you see positivity and motivation when you log onto social media. What you see is the programming that you’re choosing to give yourself.
Setting Personal Boundaries
It can be difficult to set boundaries with the loved ones in your life, but it is sometimes necessary. This doesn’t mean you have to cut these people out of your life completely, but the dynamic of your relationship may have to change, because you have to put yourself first. Changing the dynamic of your relationship may include having less conversations with these people, spending less time with them, sharing less about yourself and your life, or even choosing to no longer offer them advice.
I remind you to not take it personally that these people don’t want to listen to you or don’t support the positive life you are trying to create for yourself. Most likely, you’ve been in their shoes before, and it’s okay to be open and honest with them about what you are trying to create in your life. This might be as simple as having a conversation with them and saying something along the lines of, “Look, I’m focusing on these really positive things and when you do or say XYZ, it pulls away from that.” You will know best how to have these conversations depending on who you are having them with. You also need to be mindful of how people may respond to your boundaries, because some people will destroy the relationship or friendship because they don’t want to understand your perspective or accept fault. People usually don’t know how to respond to communication that sets boundaries, so it’s also very common for people to get offended. Negative people see themselves as a victim, so when they receive communication that places blame for their own negative thoughts about their circumstances and outcomes on themselves, they very often choose to deny their fault instead of facing the obstacle of their mindset. Understand that this does not reflect on you, but people need to understand themselves before they can understand others.
Your Personal Growth Journey
Once you begin your personal growth journey and start to truly feel better and feel fulfilled in your life, you may want to share that and share the tools and mindset that are getting you there with others, which is great! Unfortunately, some people are not ready for that in their own lives. People have to want to change for themselves, and you can simply let them know that you are there for them when they want to take that step.
Your personal growth journey is your own, and having the support of your loved ones is important. You will begin to change, and you will learn very quickly who will support you no matter what. Some people in your life may be turned off by this, because you aren’t sharing in their misery anymore. You may naturally push people away and attract [more positive] people who are [more] in alignment with you. You can always love those who are pushed away from a distance.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You need to put yourself and your needs first, so that you can offer your love, your help, your advice, and so much more, to others in your life. Setting personal boundaries is a necessary step in your journey to living a happy and fulfilling life, and ensuring that you have those by your side who will support you every step of the way. You cannot do powerful things with negative people.
This is excellent and hits the mark on a lot of what I experience. Elements of your points are part of the reason I don’t automatically share much about what I have going on. I don’t trust certain people enough to trust that the interaction will be positive. So, I don’t say anything. It’s exhausting to encounter the same people always in the dump.
Here’s an anecdote that puts what you’re saying into keen focus. Thanksgiving weekend I run into a neighbor of mine, a person I’m not fond of anyway because of what you discuss here and for other reasons. She’s talking about how she’s tired of coronavirus-related disruptions and all. Then goes on to say “Honestly, I don’t feel thankful for anything right now.” Really! Not for your health? Your children’s health? Not the material comforts you enjoy? Not the fact that you’re able to be a stay-at-home mom supported by your husband? Not for the fact that you don’t suffer from food insecurity? You truly feel you have NOTHING to be thankful for?
I was stunned and disgusted. I had to walk away. Haven’t spoken to her since, now that I think about it.
Thank you! I am the same way, I am selective in who I share personal things with because I don’t want to listen to negative responses!
The interaction you had is a great example of something people run into every single day. How can someone be thankful for absolutely nothing? That’s such a terrible way to choose to live your life!