Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us. ~Stephen Covey
So, you’re minding your own business and having a bright, bright sunshiny day. Everything seems to be going your way–your kids are getting along, the guy at Starbucks finally gets your order right and the lights are all green.
Then, it happens.
Some yahoo comes along and takes a crap in your Cheerios. Suddenly, your sunny outlook is replaced by the storm clouds of negativity. You start remembering all those little things that bother you, the stresses, the annoyances, and the general malaise sets in. The kids start fighting, the coffee gets cold before you can drink it and the lights turn red. You’re irritated and ready to scream.
“Mean people really do suck. There you are, minding your own business, having a great day, and some snarky cashier, office person, or even a bus driver shreds your happy little bubble of a life into a million pieces,” says Anne Loyd in the Mean People That Suck blog. “All you can remember is that one jerk who ruined your day.”
Loyd is totally on-point. Dealing with negative people in your life totally sucks.
Most everyone has experienced this whole mean people phenomenon at one time or another, and when the negativity is doled out by a random someone in the world, it’s easy to learn to change your mind and change your perspective–after all, you don’t need to deal with these people on a consistent basis. Why should you let them steal your sunshine?
But sometimes, it’s not some random bus driver or grocery store clerk who causes the icky feelings–it’s someone you love–a stressed out spouse, a controlling parent, or a fair-weather friend, for example. Then it becomes a whole different thing–because you can’t just walk away and never see or talk to that person again. He or she is a part of your life, probably a pretty important part.
So what do you do? Are you doomed to walking around with a proverbial rain cloud over your head? What’s the trick to dealing with negative people in your life–especially when you love them–all while keeping the sun shining in your world?
Tips for Dealing With Negative People in Your Life
As children, we crave the approval of the people we love. We want our parents to be proud of us, we want our teachers to think we’re smart and we want our friends to think we’re cool. As we grow older, we often tend to accept what our loved ones think as fact, and we internalize their thoughts and judgments against us. We begin to think that maybe they’re right, that we’re not good enough or that we really aren’t as cool or smart as we thought.
But here’s the thing that we forget. Our loved ones are human, just like we are, and in some cases, they’re just plain wrong.
“Just because someone is concerned for your welfare does not mean that their advice or input has value,” says writer Peter Murphy. “For example, I know a lot about peak performance. I do not know much about car maintenance. If I ever offer you advice on rebuilding a car engine run as fast as you can! My input would have little or no value.”
Same deal with your loved ones–sometimes they may be negative about you or your choices because they can’t understand or simply don’t know how to think positively about the situation. And their lack of understanding can lead to unreasonable anxiety about your life–which, of course, makes them feel justified in throwing down some negativity on your (otherwise happy) ass. You have to learn to distinguish between valuable advice and unreasonable negativity.
By nature, we seek the approval of the people we love. In many cases, we can feel limited and stifled by the constraints that maintaining such approval can impose on us. Some people in our lives offer conditional love, which means that they can’t (or won’t) treat you with love or respect unless you can be the person they want you to be.
When we don’t fit into the neat little boxes that our loved ones (and our society) have set out for us, we are often ostracized or shunned, sometimes by those closest to us. And, if we require the approval of those we love to be happy, we set ourselves up for conditional self-acceptance–so when we’re doing what “they” think we should, we think we’re allowed to feel good about ourselves (even if that nagging feeling in the pit of our stomachs is telling us that we’re not on the right path.) We become the victims of the limiting beliefs of the people around us.
We must learn to let go of the need to please the people we love, and start focusing on what’s right for ourselves. We must claim our independence from negativity and judgment, following our hearts to find true peace. Be yourself, and proudly claim your place in this world.
When you are happy and at peace with yourself, you’ll attract more happiness and peace into your world.
I’ve said it till I’m blue in the face: you get back what you put out into the world. So, when you focus on the negativity in your life, the bad stuff, you’ll attract more of it to yourself. When you maintain a mostly positive attitude, you draw more of the same into your life.
We must own our confidence and trust in ourselves and our intuition. Keep your eye on the prize, and always expect the best–because the fact is, you get what you expect. Learn to let go of the past and focus on the positive things you’ve got coming toward you today.
If you’ve been hurt by someone you love, you must forgive that person in order to heal and move forward in peace. At all costs, try to avoid internalizing the negativity of others, and focus instead on the wonderful things in your life.
We can’t control the people around us, no matter how hard we try. Practice accepting yourself and the people you love for who they are, and stay focused on what really matters. Be true to yourself and stay on the path that you know is right for you. Understand negativity for what it and find the approval you seek within yourself, for when you manage to achieve this new level of understanding, the rest will fall into place.
What do you think? How do you deal with negativity from your loved ones? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.