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Practical steps for dealing with a negative person?

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  • #384175
    Amy
    Participant

    Hello, I would like some advice on my practice when it comes to dealing with negativity/negative people.

    As some background information I will tell you that I have a history of depression and social anxiety. I was also bullied as a kid and was raised in an emotionally chaotic household – I know the memories of that time is having an impact on my behaviour today.

    I would like to know what exercises/tricks have worked for you when confronted with a negative person who seems to want you to wallow in their misery with you. I don’t want a confrontation with this person but I know I should probably set boundaries and that’s an area of my life I need to become more confident with. But ultimately, I believe it is me that is having the reaction, so it is me that needs to learn to master my emotions during these times.

    I have tried several things with this person and none of them seem to work so that’s why I feel I need to come up with a solution within myself. One thing I tried was saying something positive when they were being negative about someone but this resulted in them becoming mad at me and accusing me of “defending” the other person. I have also tried ignoring them to a degree but this feels very rude, but I have no idea what to say to them anymore since they slap away my attempts at positivity. If I agree with them I feel myself becoming negative and being pulled down with them. My past makes me very prone to thinking negatively about myself and I’m always trying to keep it in check but this person is bringing it out in me and I feel like I’m having a war in my own head.

    I’m curious what steps you go through when you find frustration or anger arising in yourself? Currently I have just been trying to be aware of my breath, the feeling in my body etc but I’m still getting stressed out. Should I continue in this way or maybe there is something else I should be doing?

    Thank you for your time. May you be happy and well.

     

    #384514
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Amy:

    You shared: “I have a history of depression and social anxiety. I was also bullied as a kid and was raised in an emotionally chaotic household… One thing I tried was saying something positive when they were being negative about someone but this resulted in them becoming mad at me and accusing me of “defending” the other person…  I feel myself becoming negative and being pulled down with them… and I feel like I’m having a war in my own head”-

    – (1) You were bullied as a kid. Fast forward- as an adult, you are being bullied by this negative person (let’s refer to this person as N) who attacks you when you are try to help her! (2) You grew up in an emotionally chaotic household that pulled you down and made you feel like having a war in your own head. Fast forward- N is creating emotional chaos for you, pulls you down and you feel like having a war in your own head.

    You asked: “I would like some advice on my practice when it comes to dealing with negativity/negative people… what steps you go through when you find frustration or anger arising in yourself?“- as a kid, you had no choice but to live with  and interact with negative people who created chaos for you, etc. But as an adult, you have the ability (I hope) to stay away from such people and not interact with them at all.

    As a kid, you had to endure people  and deal with the frustration and anger they left in you, but as an adult- you don’t have to avail yourself to people who make you frustrated and angry.

    Currently I have just been trying to be aware of my breath, the feeling in my body etc. but I’m still getting stressed out. Should I continue in this way or maybe there is something else I should be doing?“-

    – the something else that you should be doing is: stay away from N. Instead of trying to calm your breathing while interacting with N- don’t interact with N.

    I am guessing that you would have stayed away from N if you didn’t feel guilty about staying away from N. I wonder if N is your mother, or your father, or a colleague at work… (?)

    anita

    #384488
    emily
    Participant

    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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