Thoughts on this post? Share them with me on Facebook, join the SPANily or Tweet me at @angieatkinson. ~Angie

Maintaining a positive attitude can be tough at times, especially when life seems to throw you all sorts of negative curve balls. These can come in the form of negative people or situations, but today I’m focusing on the people in your life.

There are those who are simply negative by nature, and this might be a result of fear or unhappiness. There are those who are situationally negative, probably resulting from current circumstances in life. Regardless of the “why” of it all, each and every one of us has some Negative Nellies or Neds in our world, right now.

When these people are strangers or even acquaintances, it’s much easier to let their gloom and doom roll off your back. But people you care about–they can seriously poke holes in your little bubble of happiness. Sometimes this comes in the form of a veiled insult or a backhanded compliment. You know the type–they tell you that your dress is doing wonders for your figure, and boy do you need it…or that your child is gorgeous, but looks nothing like you. Or, they congratulate you on an accomplishment and then tell you they never thought you could do it. And these examples, my friends, are some of the more obvious ones. If you really listen to this type of person, you could find all sorts of little innuendos.

The question is, then, if one is to maintain a positive attitude, how is one expected to handle this sort of negativity? If it’s not sensible to cut that person out of your life, what do you do? It’s a difficult question to answer, but I’m going to give it a shot here.

First, remember that people need to know they’re being heard. So, when someone complains to you, try acknowledging the complaint. Then, people need to know that they’re being understood, and ideally, that you can empathize with their situation.

So, the next time your neighbor complains about the gas prices, her kid’s teacher, or the dishonest mechanic she just dealt with, just let her know you understand.

First, listen to her–and then express your empathy. You might even relate by telling her how you handled a similar situation in the past with a positive spin if it’s appropriate.

In the situation where the person is being negative ABOUT you, things can get a bit hairier. What is the best way to handle someone who is angry with you or who complains about you directly?

First, be sure you understood what they were implying. Sometimes, our own sensitivity can cause us to misconstrue a comment from someone, especially someone we love. You may even ask for clarification.

Then, consider your options. Sometimes people say things to hurt others because they are hurting themselves, and other times, they simply don’t realize how their words can make another person feel.

Look the person in the eyes, and be sure to take a deep breath. While the ideal situation is to ignore the insult and move forward with the conversation, many people can’t or won’t do this. Another option is to tell the person that you understand they’re having a tough time, but you want them to be aware that what they’ve said hurt your feelings. It sounds wimpy, I know, but by being so forward about it, you can eliminate a lot of arguing. So, say something like, “It hurts my feelings when you say _________ about me.”

Ultimately, the key is this: whether the negativity is directed toward you or is just in your vicinity, do what you can to avoid internalizing it. Of course this is easier said than done, but try coming up with an affirmation or even just a word that you repeat to yourself when dealing with negativity. Remember that episode of Seinfeld, the one where Frank Costanza started the mantra, “SERENITY NOW!”? This may be an extreme example, but the idea is a good one. When something or someone threatens to poke holes in your happiness bubble, recite a mantra in your head, and simply know that you will deal with it in the best way possible. Here is a good article full of positive affirmations if you need suggestions.

Remember too that you don’t always know what the person is dealing with outside of you–have compassion.

Once you’ve left the situation, take a few deep breaths, and as you exhale, feel the tension leaving you. Inhale, breathing in the positive energy around you.

This is an area that takes practice, but learning these skills can certainly make your journey to self actualization and inner peace a smoother one. Remember too that these are just some basic examples of coping strategies. If you’ve got other ideas, please leave them in the comments section so that they might benefit all of my readers!

I’ll leave you with these quotes for a bit of inspiration when working to stay positive.

“Don’t let the negativity given to you by the world disempower you. Instead give to yourself that which empowers you.” Les Brown

“You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead.” Anais Nin

“Drag your thoughts away from your troubles… by the ears, by the heels, or any other way you can manage it.” Mark Twain

“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
Zig Ziglar

Learn it, live it, love it!

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8 Responses to Negativity, Be Gone!

  1. Hi I just found your blog via Entrecard, great info. I’m bookmarking to come back often.


  2. I am definitely more of a negative person by nature…I have to work not to let it overtake me. Good post!

  3. Hi! Thanks for the comment!!

    Good post! I have found as I am getting older that I don’t let those negative people have as much time in my daily activities. This is not to say that I am always positive-so not true, but it takes less energy to be positive.

    Another good thing about getting older is that you care less what people think. I do wish that I could be more assertive and let people know when they are being hurtful/rude, etc.

  4. Hi Angie, when negativity is anywhere near me, I will sometimes count my blessings or I will put things into action where applicable. Indeed it is a challenge when we have loved ones who are negative; we could not possibly just switch them off. If we do switch them off every time or stay away from them, then I believe we do not truly grow and we would not be a better person; someone that others can rely on. I think you brought out a good point that we need to listen to them and to understand from their point of view . What I would also do is to try to lead them to the positive side. Challenging I know and the first step to doing that is to listen and understand.

    Regarding the insults or bad remarks that others may make about us, I have always used a quotation by Abraham Lincoln, “I am not bother by what others are saying about me as long as I know they are not speaking the truth about me.

  5. Great post. I posted something similar to this. These people have shit load of garbage in their hearts and they just want to dump them onto others because they don’t know how to deal with it.
    I am basically a positive exuberant person but you know you can’t avoid these type of negative people. You are right, we should not let them empower us . Our reaction and attitude towards it counts the most –and our attitude should be forgiveness to these people and gratitude for all our blessings. I also open up to God all the time as much as I can to seek His counsel because I know I can never do it in my own strength or will.

  6. I do my best to avoid negativism myself. Sometimes it finds me though. So instead of getting drawn in, I recognize it quickly and move on. Great blog!

  7. Hi Angie!!

    LOVE THIS!! We couldn’t agree more!! “You can either give negativity power over your life or you can choose happiness instead.” ~Anais Nin

    One thing we’ve learned through our personal self-discovery is that we have complete control over our emotions. It’s truly up to us to decide whether to be happy, sad, joyful or hurt.
    When you’re experiencing negativity from someone close, it is important to let them know of their actions. Most of the time they really do not realize they are hurting your feelings. Incredible point you made, we agree with you!! As soon as you do that, you’ll feel so much better, then choose to brush off your shoulders and remind yourself of how wonderul you are. Works every time!!

    Much Love, Roxanne and Hugo

  8. Great Post. Just found your blog under Living Well blogs in blogcatalog. I couldn’t agree more with your suggestions for letting go of or repelling negativity. I suppose you could walk around with a little imiginary bubble around your body protecting you from all things negative, afterall visualization is a great tool…but understanding that not all individuals are advanced on their life journey and moving forward is my ususal path of resistance. I just wrote a similar article about negativity on my new blog today. It is called “Just naive or optimistic?” I don’t want to spam your blog with unsolicited links to mine… I am new to blogging protocol, but would love some input…as it seems your ideals are in line with mine. I suppose you can just click on my posting id and find me if you’re interested. Great site by the way.

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