Written by Dr. Eric Perry, PhD
“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” ~Joyce Meyer
1. Recognize and accept their toxicity
First and foremost, it is important to identify and accept that someone we know is a negative person. This can be difficult, especially when the person is someone we care about. Either way, we must be careful not to allow their negativity to transfer onto us. We need to accept that negativity is toxic and will only breed more negativity. It is especially important to avoid complainers. People who complain have given up hope that their actions can make any difference. We must be careful not to enable complainers by always listening to their woes.
2. Stop playing savior and/or problem solver
As human beings, we are wired to connect. For most of us, it is in our nature to lend a compassionate ear to someone who is in need. We must be careful not to let ourselves fall into the trap of negativity because we feel obligated to be helpful or nice. Keep in mind that negative people feed off spreading negativity to others.
3. Negative people are manipulative
Negative people learn how to discretely present themselves in a way that is disarming to others. Make sure to set your boundaries early with a person you have identified as negative. When a negative person meets someone who is positive, they will often ridicule, degrade or dismiss the person with the positive outlook. This is why negative people tend to surround themselves with other negative people. Keep in mind that a negative person will let you think they have “seen the light” just to throw it in your face the moment something does not go according to plan.
4. Don’t fight every battle
In the words of Mark Twain, “Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” This applies especially to negative people. Attempting to convince a negative person of something positive is a waste of time. As a result of trying to convince them you might even become the target for all of their negativity. I am not saying to avoid the battles that need to be fought, I am saying to choose your battles wisely.
5. Keep emotional distance
The most important thing to remember when interacting with a negative person is to not get too close emotionally. We cannot always avoid negative people in our lives. But, we can keep ourselves from emotionally investing in such a way that causes us to spiral from our own reactivity. Remember, you cannot always avoid being reactive, but you can avoid dwelling on the reaction and spiraling into a negative place.
The thoughts expressed in this blog post are my own and are not meant to create a therapeutic relationship with the reader. This blog does not replace or substitute the help of a mental health professional. Please note, I am unable to answer your specific mental health questions as I am not fully aware of all of the circumstances.
Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology
M.A. in Clinical Psychology
B.A. in Psychology
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