We’ve all had a few of those people in our lives. The kind who seem to always have bad things happen to them, around them, and every conversation – regardless of how positive it started – ends up being a complete downer by the other person bringing up a negative aspect of the subject or how it somehow ties into the millions of tragedies that occurred in their life. Negative Nelly’s, is the generic and most widely used term for them, but they’re known by others, too. Regardless of what term is used, the results are the same: You’re left feeling emotionally and mentally drained by any interaction with them.
How do you keep them from dragging you down to their level? Most would say that it’s best to just avoid being around those types of people, but that’s not always easy or even possible to accomplish. If one of these perpetually negative people is a member of your family, it’s tough to avoid them, especially at family gatherings. If the negative person is someone at work, you could quit your job or transfer to another department, but that is not as easy as it used to be. So, we have to find other creative methods to use to keep them at arm’s length or further.
First, it’s all about how you decide to react to what is being said. Realize that Negative Nelly’s are not looking for advice or for you to offer an actual solution to their problem. They’re looking for justification in staying down in their attitude and feelings. They’re also looking to make their personal Pity Party more of a community rave, so put your glow sticks away and kindly decline the invitation by taking one of the following steps.
1 – For every negative thing that is mentioned, find a positive one to counter it. It may not make any difference in your friend’s outlook or opinion, but it does for others around you and yourself. Eventually, the negative friend will give up trying to bring you down after a few of these exchanges, and go off in search of more gullible prey.
2 – Find something else to occupy your attention. Yes, this may appear to be rude by ignoring your friend’s opportunity to seize your happiness, but it is sometimes a necessary step to take. If at work, suddenly recall that you have an important email to send off, or a report that has been neglected too long in an effort to scuttle out of the conversation. If it’s at a family gathering, excuse yourself to check on your child, and go play with the younger generation. They will help lift your spirits after your brief negative encounter.
3 – If you’re stuck and can’t get away, just let them talk. Again, they’re not looking for answers, so contributing your wisdom to the conversation will fall on deaf ears. While your friend attempts to drag you down, have a conversation in your head about how thrilled you are that you don’t have the same problems and that you are overall a more positive person than the one talking to you. Give yourself a quiet pat on the back while you let your friend’s negativity fall flat in front of you, and you walk away maintaining your positive outlook.
At the end of any downer story you are told by your Negative Nelly, you can make your friend feel a little better by outwardly saying to her, “Yes, you’re absolutely right. That is a horrible problem you have.” Then, leave it at that. That’s all they really wanted to hear, so don’t invest your positive emotional and mental state to help someone who doesn’t want it, anyway. Reserve your aid for those who will genuinely listen and take action to better themselves and their situation.
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