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Create a Positive Space and Break the Cycle of Negativity

“Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it’s dark.” ~Zen Proverb

I’m an emotional, sensitive person with a lot of empathy for others. I’ve found myself feeling torn apart by negativity and the world outside of me. I’m often bogged down by cyclical negativity, and I sometimes focus on others’ effects on me instead of my effect on myself.

In my depressive cycling, I was always the victim. The more I thought about how terrible someone was toward me, the deeper I spiraled into a negative space that couldn’t be replenished.

Deep in despair, I called upon a beloved friend for some spiritual guidance.

He said, “Stand in your space. If you want to have the truest, most positive interactions with others and, in turn, be your most beautiful, authentic self, the work has to start with you.”

It wasn’t enough to cut someone negative off and it was counterproductive to complain about how they weighed me down. Instead, I needed to build the space I wanted and then stand in it.

Space is a culmination of you, your aura, and your energy.

It’s beyond just who you are in a tangible sense; it’s everything you are: your intentions, your mental processes, your actions, and your presence. We attract positivity by creating positivity.

After spending years trying to heal broken hearts and souls, I had allowed myself to be drained of positive energy and, in turn, drained the energy of people who interacted with me.

So, was I doing more harm than good, despite my intentions?

In my efforts to heal a handful of people, I had internalized every piece of negativity and emoted my own. I had this mentality that you can let love flow freely from your heart and understand that it will always self-replenish. This is true. But, energy is different, and I kept treating love and positive energy the same.

Being low on positive energy doesn’t mean you are low on love. You can still have a lot of love, yet be feeling drained and not manifesting that love well.

For this reason, you need to protect your space, which encompasses your energy.

Energy is valuable, and it should flow freely toward places where it will do the most good.

These are often the same places where you’ll find it easy for your positive energy to be replenished. This can be in interacting with people who help you feel good about yourself, or delving into interests that ignite passion in you, or just laughing a lot.

The most effective healer is the one who heals others through example. So, it’s important for your energy and space to stay positive.

Choose to be positive, peaceful, and happy in your space by:

  • Using positive language, speech patterns, and affirmations
  • Taking time for yourself
  • Focusing as much as possible on the present
  • Being optimistic about the future and having faith in people and situations
  • Most importantly, protecting and respecting your space by requiring others to do the same

It’s not necessary to cut someone who is negative completely off, or for you to pessimistically believe they’ll never change. The key is to take yourself and your space elsewhere when you feel it’s being threatened.

This doesn’t mean anyone who is negative threatens it. It’s generous and wonderful for people to pull others up by the simple act of interacting, comforting, advising, and listening. Sometimes people do need to just purge that negativity.

But you have to take a barometer of your own space and see how their negativity is affecting you. If you are falling, you need to step back or bring yourself up.

I was so inspired by this lesson because I saw how it could be applicable not only to me but the many people who interact with me.

It helped me to understand how similar we all are. Formerly, in my victim state, I felt others were dragging me down. Then I began to see the domino effect—how I was doing the same to other people.

When we know and set limits, we’re able to pull ourselves up. In the process, we may inspire others to pull themselves up, too.

Photo by whatshername

Avatar of Conning Chu

About Conning Chu

Conning Chu is a writer, communicator, and connector. As a former business journalist, she used to write articles as an observer. Now, she writes stories as an absorber. You can connect with her via twitter @conningchu.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Tanny

    This is an excellent post. I find myself starting to feel negative when I’m around negativity.I’m going to take your advice and start to see the world through new eyes.

  • Christy

    Wow this posting came in at the perfect timing of my life. I have dealt with negativity for a while now, maybe a 3 or 4 years at my job. It does not matter what I do, it will be never be enough. I am so close to maybe receiving another great opportunity but need to go through the final stage of the process. It has been so nerve-wrecking because I am faced with dealing with either great news or bad news. I have decided to keep faith and whatever happens, will happen. I have a great fiance and our wedding is so close that I have made the decision to put myself first and gain back that positive side that I had in me a long time ago. Because you are right, that it is a domino effect and I refuse to put my future family in that dark gloomy world. I may struggle for a while but I know I need to put myself first in order to have a happy future.

  • Wendy

    My life have been on a downward negative spiral for 13 years due to outside People that I do not want into my space at all, once again your writing is inspiring and to the point

  • http://twitter.com/MissNja Cris Santos

    Thank you for share.It suits me as a glove!=)

  • inspiredgreatness

    Thank you for verbalizing so beautifully what I haven’t realized I’ve been learning all year! Great article, wonderful voice :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1612354164 Richie Boone Anderson-Grant

    This is what I needed to hear today-Thank You!

  • Guest

    This came at the perfect time! It voiced some of the exact thoughts that I’ve had recently and added other tidbits to strengthen those ideas. Thank you for posting- it was inspirational to read!

  • Delphine

    You definitely inspired me to pull myself up. Thank you for writing this wonderful article.

  • Honey

    Thank you! This is me to a T! I have been feeling so drained for so long now, and just generally lost. Lost because I was once very positive, and felt a happy light inside of me that I took the time and care to maintain. I did this by choice, everyday, it was a decision I made I to be happy. I too am very empathetic and sensitive to the needs of others. I have somehow lost myself in the problems and drama of others, adopting their issues as if they are somehow my own. Always trying to fix things and make them better. I have been feeling as though my inner light, and loving positive nature have slowly been smothered, because I haven’t been taking the time to do the things that make me happy, and to feed the flame to keep it burning bright. Instead I have somehow allowed myself to be sucked in by all of the negativity I am surrounded by, and sucked dry. I have been looking too much outside of myself for the possitive affirmations of others, to the point of feeling the victim by asking myself “why can’t this person I love and care for, care for me the same way, or as much by being there for me the way I am for them?”. I need to take back my space and own it again, like I used to. I just want to be my happy, positive self again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fantastique.monique Monique Muñoz

    beautiful article :) this is exactly what i needed to hear today ha ha

  • Beth

    I’m going through this precisely. I took myself out of a negative situation entirely and it was probably the best thing I could’ve done all year for myself and my relationships. The domino effect was endless. It’s more of a lego situation now. I’m building others up and in turn they build me up and the result is we’re building something magnificent. What it is exactly, I have no clue but it’s fun and it’s positive. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  • http://www.delcusay.com/ Del Cusay

    People around must respect our personal space and sometimes our own space has the power to effect on others–could be positive or negative. If we radiate love and compassion within our space, people can feel it and like a ripple effect, they can show the same feeling on others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.willius Jeffrey Willius

    Conning: What a wonderful, timely post! Thank you for sharing it. I’ve struggled with the same dark cloud of negativity.
    You recount your experience in a most candid, unpretentious way. I love the metaphor of creating your own space. This seems more vital than ever as so many of our common spaces these days seem strewn with negative thoughts and images that can trip us if we let them.

  • Cindi C

    I’m with Christy… this article came at the perfect time for me and much like Conning Chu have always been a very empathetic person and have a tendancy to take on others negativity and emotions to the detriment of dealing with my own negativity and emotions, then I bottle it all up neatly and eventually find myself depressed yet again. That’s not to say that my depression is solely caused by other peoples negativity, but it is most certainly a major contributing factor for me. I find it especially hard when this negativity is coming from family members. I was recently married (July 28, 2012) and the day before my wedding my soon to be mother in law caused some ripples and I found myself caught up in the fact that she was being difficult and negative during a time that was supposed to be happy and exciting. One of my bridesmaids stepped up and gave me a tool that I still use and will always use… She threw a bubble at me! An imaginary bubble, a bubble that protects me… MY space… no one comes in without my permission, it is my safe spot and it comes with me everywhere I go… it started off purple and over time has evolved to include swirling pinks and blues as well. Each color means something to me, hence the evolvement of my bubble. And… the best part is that I can share them! I can throw bubbles at other people too! Even if they don’t know that I’ve thrown it… I allow my positivity and healing energy to flow between the bubbles freely, and instead of me absorbing the negative energy personally, my bubble takes care of it for me.
    I like sharing my bubbles and I find that even if someone isn’t “aware” that I’ve decided to share the flow of energy, therefore our interaction, shifts and takes on a more positive feel. I’m a visual and tactile person so this tool has served me amazingly well.
    Anyone want a bubble?
    If so email me cindi.chaisson@hotmail.com
    I can send them anywhere!

  • http://twitter.com/CarmeloBryan Carmelo Bryan

    Sometimes I think it’st the difference between wanting to give and give and fix others vs. just being strongly who you are. Right? That’s standing in your own space.

    And that’s the space “created” by your inner being. Not the “you” you think you are but the real you that is connected with everyone and everything. So, yeah, being in your own space but at the same time being with every other form of life there is too.

    Maybe from that perspective there is no drain because we’re all equal on that plane. In my experience, the better we do that, the more people and things sort of just “fix themselves” (Just another way to look at “your own space.”) :-)

  • Liz Roberts

    I really enjoyed your post. Thanks so much for the positive lesson! Sending much light your way :)

  • Sally Brown

    This is a great article!! Thank you for posting this!!

  • Julia

    This was an amazing post. I’m working on being more positive and not allowing what others do and don’t do effect me! You have given great advice. Thank you!

  • Rosebud

    Thank you so much for this.

    I’ve felt overwhelmed for what feels like an eternity (but has actually been
    only a few months) dating a guy who unfortunately is pretty negative alot of
    the time.

    We have went from dating to him living in my home and although I said at the
    onset I would need “down time” for me, that simply hasn’t happened.

    Im the opposite of my partner. Im a positive enabler who enjoys helping others.
    But this lack of space and constant stream of negative expression has left me
    feeling low and sad in my heart.

    I have been sitting consuming my good thoughts with examples of why im not
    happy. I seeked inspiration to clear the dark butterflies… and tiny budda
    provided it!

    Its true, without space we cannot be balanced and reading this page has reminded
    me of that need above all others. How can I be balanced with others if I am not
    balanced myself? If I sacrifice the one thing that I have… me!

    Thank you with love and hope! xx

  • JustMe

    Thank you! I really needed to read this today!

  • Toula

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful article, thank you. I too, like many other commenters ‘suffer’ from being too sensitive and too empathetic and dealing with several challenging situations for family/friends recently has left me feeling down and drained and I shouldn’t be! I have so much to be grateful for and happy about, but it’s all gotten smothered in negativity… So again, thank you, the universe brought your article to my attention at the exact right time! :) :)

  • salstar

    Thank you this was wonderful to read. I went onto codependency and linked into this to post. Has anyone got any words of wisdom as I have always realised since being a teenager that the dynamics of my family were odd sometimes. I did not have a bad upbringing but drama triangles, blame, scapegoat all come to mind as I educated myself in my late 30′s in psychology and counselling and actually read in PRI t what my inner child all those years ago did not gel with. As I am saying no to people, not that I am a people pleaser but knowing and enforcing my boundaries I am constantly coming up with critisicm from people around me. I have noticed they do not want to deal with the issue in hand so place it on to me and when I put it back to them they almost guilt trip me, I do not do guilt anymore, but the majority of people around me are lime this and I feel so alone at times as it is a fourth journey but I am trusting I will come out the other side stronger and more at peace. When the majority seem codependent and some are narcistic I know the majority does not make them right or wrong but how do I continue upon this path feeling like the minority and almost being alienated and bullied? Maybe writing this may have been wiser when I do not feel so emotionally baff!ed but I am going to be real so excuse grammar as mind not in a focused quite place at this time.