I am someone who tries to be positive and optimistic. Sometimes, though, I struggle with bouts of negativity. There are periods of extreme self-doubt, complaining, displeasure with everyone and everything around me. I usually come out of them pretty quickly, however, because it’s really a terrible way to live. Why would anyone want to exist in a world of negativity and pessimism? It’s unconstructive.
An eternally negative person cannot be changed by any of us. We can offer an alternative, by being positive and accepting and content. However, trying to change a negative person is futile and frustrating. The best thing to do when you are confronted with someone who refuses to come out of that dark place is to put some distance between the two of you. It can be hard, especially if that negative person is someone close to you. But the only way to preserve your own mental and emotional health is to step away. Some of us have learned this the hard way. Here’s what you do:
1. Do your own thing. Trade in those bitch sessions at lunchtime with your negative co-worker for a walk around the neighborhood, a picnic in the park or a sandwich at a new deli. Instead of calling your sister when you get home from work to hear about the hundreds of ways the world has wronged her today, take the kids for a bike ride, go to a yoga class or cook a really delicious dinner with a recipe you have wanted to try for a while.
2. Meet new people. You really appreciate how drastically a negative person can bring you down when you start hanging out with positive people. Surround yourself with those who see the good instead of the bad, and embrace hope instead of hopelessness. It will reinforce your own quest for happiness and keep you feeling good.
3. Communicate openly. When the negative person in your life notices you pull away, he will add you to the list of bad people who are out to get him. Don’t let that bother you. And if you are confronted by the negative person, say in a supportive and open way that you are so blessed and fortunate to be busy and active and you are sorry you have not had any free time to spend together lately. Spread the joy and the positive energy!