Are you constantly being prevented from pursuing your dream because “only a few are successful at it”? To achieve happiness, success and well-being, you must deal with negative people.
What is the main determinant of happiness?
The answer to this question, as you probably already know, is not wealth, fame, beauty or power. Our sense of happiness is determined by how other people, especially our close ones - friends, family members, colleagues - treat us. When your loved ones treat you well, you simply cannot help but feel happy, but if they treat you badly or avoid communicating with you, you are doomed to be unhappy.
The reason our happiness depends a lot on the quality of our relationships with others is because people are social beings in the first place. And if you look back, you can find a lot of evidence of this. It is very important for us to know what others think of us, and, as my own observations show, we are much more willing to agree to experience something unpleasant (for example, watch a bad movie) in the company of those who share our negative attitude towards it than to experience something pleasant. (for example, watching a good movie) in the company of people who disagree with us. Our social identity also explains why falling in love with another person is the most precious experience in our life and why isolation, whose extreme form is solitary confinement, is considered by those who have experienced it as the most severe test.
All this explains why it is so excruciatingly difficult for us to communicate and interact with negative people - people who constantly spoil our mood with their pessimism, anxiety and distrust. Imagine that you are constantly being prevented from pursuing your dream because "only a few are successful at it." Or imagine being constantly discouraged from learning something new - like scuba diving or horseback riding - because it is "too dangerous." Imagine that you constantly hear negative statements about other people (for example, “I can't believe you told the neighbors that you failed your driving test - now they will never respect you!”) If you are regularly exposed to such negative influences, this can significantly affect your stock of positivity, and this in turn will lead to the fact that you either join the ranks of negative people, or begin to show indifference or even rudeness towards negative people in your environment.
How should you deal with negative people?
One obvious solution is to simply not communicate with them. But this is easier said than done. We can always easily cut off a grumpy bartender or an airline manager who has a hard time dealing with his anger, but we can't just turn away and stop communicating with our parents, siblings, spouses, coworkers or friends.
A more practical approach to dealing with such people is to first try to understand the reasons for their negative attitudes. In short, negative attitudes are almost always rooted in one of three deep-seated fears: fear of disrespect from others, fear of being unloved, and fear that something bad might happen. These fears continuously feed each other, and as a result, the person, seized by them, comes to the conclusion that "the world around is very dangerous, and people are mostly bad."
It is difficult for a person gripped by such fears to believe in the need to follow their dreams (after all, on this path, they are guaranteed to fail) and take risks, even if it is necessary for personal growth and development. It is also easy to understand why people who are trapped in these fears find it very difficult to trust others.
The fears that underlie negative perceptions of the world manifest themselves in a wide variety of forms:
• Vulnerability or a tendency to take offense at the comments of other people: for example, the phrase "today you look great" causes an extremely negative reaction: "So yesterday I looked bad?"
• Categoricalness or a tendency to invest negative motivation in completely innocent actions of other people: for example, guests who do not praise the hostess's treat are regarded as "uncouth rude bribes who do not deserve invitations in the future."
• Self-doubt. We are talking about a feeling of helplessness, an inability to cope with the trials that we encounter on the path of life, which leads to the emergence of the strongest anxiety when faced with such trials and to a feeling of shame and guilt if a person avoids these trials.
• Demanding: although negative people experience acute insecurity in their own abilities, they often insist on special achievements from their loved ones so that “I can be proud of you”.
• Pessimism or a tendency to believe that the future is dark and hopeless. For example, negative people are much more likely to imagine how and why an important commercial visit can fail than vice versa.
• Avoidance of risks, especially in matters of a social nature. This leads to a reluctance to disclose information that "could be used against me" and, as a result, to boring conversations and superficial relationships.
• Desire to control the behavior of other people, especially those close to you. For example, negative people have tough demands on how their children should eat, what kind of car to buy, and so on.
It is worth noting that in all the manifestations of negativity listed above, there is one thing in common, namely, the tendency to blame external factors - other people, the environment or "luck" - and not yourself and your negative attitude towards the world. Negative people often think: “If only people knew what I was capable of, if people were kinder to me, if the world were not full of dangers and if my friends, colleagues and relatives behaved with me the way I do. I would like it, I would be happy!"
At first glance, it may seem rather paradoxical that negatively minded people experience self-doubt and at the same time consider themselves entitled to demand respect and love from others. It may also seem quite paradoxical that negative-minded people are pessimistic about their own future and, at the same time, demand success from others. However, in reality there is no paradox here. This happens because negatively minded people do not feel respected and loved, do not feel that they themselves are able to control their lives, and therefore require love and respect from others and seek to control everything around.
If you look at negatively-minded people from this point of view, it becomes clear that their negativity is an almost undisguised cry for help. Of course, these people are not helping themselves in any way, demonstrating their plight and desire to control everyone - they would be much more successful in trying to win love, respect and the right to control if they realized that demonstrating a plight and showing a desire to control everyone is doomed to failure. - but the fact remains: negative people need help.
The obvious but ultimately completely unproductive way to help these people is to give them the love, respect, and control they want. However, this can be a very slippery slope, because over time, people adapt to new conditions, and soon those around them will be forced to show even more passionate love, respect and give these people even more control to make them happy. In other words, by fulfilling their wishes, you may be creating a Frankenstein who will return to haunt you with renewed vigor.
An alternative solution is to get negative people to find the sources of their negativity and understand that their negativity is more a reflection of their attitude towards the world than an objective state of affairs. Meanwhile, as I wrote in my other article, people are rarely able to adequately respond to critical statements, and those who are negative, most likely, will not listen to them at all, let alone take note of them.
This leaves you with only three options. First, you can grit your teeth, come face to face with this negativity, and hope that the person in front of you will someday change. The second option is to try to find a professional consultant or intermediary (for example, a mutual friend) and hope that the opinion of a “third party” will help the person to understand that his negativity is not beneficial to anyone.
However, these two options will most likely fail to solve the underlying problem. In the first case, when you grit your teeth and hope that a negatively minded person will eventually begin to perceive the world around him in a positive way, your passivity can serve as proof that his negative is justified. Over time, this will lead to an increase and toughening of requirements in relation to you and, if you find yourself unable to comply with these requirements, to new complaints against you.
One of the arguments against the second course of action is that negative people often tend to avoid solving the problem, hiding behind indignation and the imaginary unfairness of claims - "everyone around, even my best friends, are opposed to me!" Even if a third party manages to show a negative person that their perception of the world is unproductive, this is unlikely to change the situation. This happens because acknowledging a problem is not enough to solve it: for this it is necessary to change the subconscious patterns of thinking that underlie the negative perception of the world.
This leads us to the third and, from my point of view, the most reasonable variant of behavior in the society of negatively minded people. In short, this option involves three elements: empathy for the negative person, taking responsibility for your own happiness, regardless of the negative attitude of the loved one, and the maturity of your relationship with the negative person.
Rarely, if anything, empathy involves giving the negative person advice to change their behavior. It also completely excludes reading legends about the sources of their negativity. As I wrote above, most of us are not ready to listen to negative and critical statements - especially negative people. It can be quite difficult for you not to react to such a person, especially if their negativity hurts you to the quick. However, remember that if you tell him everything in person, it will not help solve the problem, but will only make it worse. It is also worth remembering that while you only have to deal with a negative person from time to time, he has to deal with himself all the time! This thought can help you feel compassion for that person.
The second element - taking responsibility for your own positive attitude - suggests that you must do everything you can to protect your own happiness. If you fail to maintain a positive attitude and calmness, then all is lost. In one of my articles, I gave some tips on how you can take responsibility for your happiness. In short, this requires you to start thinking more positively about the world around you, but this may not be enough if you have to constantly deal with streams of negativity: you may need regular rest from and communication with a negative person to stay calm. Of course, if you want to take a break from it on a regular basis, you have to come up with a plausible explanation - you don't want someone close to you to think that you are avoiding it.
The third element - maturity - implies the understanding that the most effective way to set such a person in a positive way is to become the embodiment of a positive attitude. For example, blaming a negative person for making you see the world around you in dark colors will not help. Imagine the irony of the situation when you advise a person to “stop blaming others for your negative outlook,” while blaming him for ruining your mood.
How can you show your positive attitude towards the world in such a way as to force a negatively minded person to adopt it, without stopping at the same time to lecture and preach?
To do this, you need to learn - as much as possible - to behave like a person who is absolutely safe. That is, behave like a person whom other people love and respect and who controls all important aspects of the lives of others. This means: do not let the negativity of others interfere with your natural desire to make your dreams come true, do not be afraid to take justified risks, trust other people. However, you should not do all this just in order to annoy a negative person or prove to him that you are right. It is best to behave naturally so that spontaneity, positive attitude, and trust towards other people become your essential traits. Then, if a negative person allows himself to make a skeptical or cynical remark - and he will definitely do it - take the opportunity and explain to him why you are doing this and not otherwise.
For example, if such a person warns you about the futility of your pursuit of a dream, let him know that you perceive your chances of success differently, or tell him that you would rather try and fail than give up your dream altogether. If a negative person warns you of the catastrophic consequences of what you consider to be a justifiable risk, respond calmly: "Well, let's see what happens." Hopefully, you will not incur any losses as a result of this risky venture and gain new valuable experience. Over time, the negative person will have to admit that while you are much more risk averse, you are not reckless. Finally, if a negative person scolds you for trusting people too much, ask them to remind you of times when others used your gullibility to harm you. (Hopefully, there have been very few or no such cases, because an otherwise negative person may be right in saying that you are overly trusting.) You can also safely point to research results: to form strong and deep relationships, you need to trust close people. (Hopefully, you can boast of a deeper friendship than your interlocutor who perceives the world around you in a negative way.)
While it may take you a long time to see any results, sooner or later they will appear. The changes will happen at an extremely slow pace, but if they happen, they will take hold for a long time. The truth is that people like the company of positive people, so even a negative person will sooner or later appreciate your positive attitude towards the world. People also really enjoy experiencing positive emotions. Therefore, if a negative-minded person absorbs your positivity in your presence, at some point he will begin to value himself more, and this, in turn, will lead to the fact that he will begin to trust others more and look to the future with great optimism.
As you've probably figured out by now, dealing with negative people requires humility. The fact that you find it difficult to overcome someone else's negativity proves that there are seeds of negativity in you. If you didn't feel empty when confronted with the negativity of others - if you were absolutely confident in yourself - you would not find the company of negative people so repulsive. Understanding that you need to work on yourself in order to cope with your own negativity, while helping other people in their struggle with a negative outlook, will help you gain the ability to empathize, think positively, as well as the maturity that is necessary to complete this difficult but a very necessary task.
Good luck to you!