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    Hey there… I have two people in my life who are exactly like what you describe. It’s hard, especially when you’ve done your own healing and growth, to deal with this. Please give yourself a pat on the back for being resilient and aware enough to resist their energy and to know their behavior isn’t who you are.

    There’s a couple of things I’d try…

    First, harm reduction. I’ve had to listen to my body and limit my visits with these people.

    Second, grounding… when they’re going negative, find the thing that helps calm you… picturing a beautiful place where you feel safe, counting down from 1000 with 3s or 6s (1000, 994, etc), repeating something in your mind that helps remind you of your strength.

    Third, I ask questions when they’re negative. My friend was complaining about how she wasn’t more successful, so I asked her who had told her she needed to be further along than she was… which frankly, ticked her off because she only wanted me to commiserate. Things like, I’m curious how you found this out… what led you to that conclusion… why is this important??

    Fourth: boundaries – here’s an outline: acknowledge their experience, differentiate your own, explain how you want to move forward and why that’s important. So: XXXX, I totally hear you – I see that (insert whatever happened here) could be upsetting. This hasn’t been my experience, and I pride myself on using first-hand information to guide my actions. It’s important that we maintain a friendship, but frankly, these conversations about other people just aren’t meaningful to our relationship. Do you think we could focus more on us and less on them?

    Prepare yourself. They will be upset. Go into your grounding method and continue to repeat the core messages laid out above, and involve them in charting a new path forward… how can we grow a meaningful connection?

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