Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Negativity

What do you do when you are surrounded by negativity, and it is draining the life's blood out of you? How do you deal with people who are motivated by anger and look for only the negative and never the positive? We have all had to deal with that at some point in our lives, and it can wreak havoc on our confidence and sense of self-worth. And it has sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy effect -- the harder you try to do something right, the more you know you are going to do it wrong. More negativity, more lack of confidence, and around and around it goes. Oh, you can do something good such as teach people a new skill, or volunteer to take on some project that no one else wants to do -- or whatever. Those are positive things, but it's not as much fun to point out the positives. The negatives are so much more exciting.

I think there are people who tend to look for the negatives in other people, in order to make themselves feel better. It's true. German people even have a name for it -- schadenfreude -- meaning "delight at the misfortune of others". I see it all the time, I watch people doing it to each other -- perfectly nice people -- and I think it may be human nature.

"Oh my goodness, will you look at that. I'm glad it's him and not me."

Or perhaps it's to detract from the what they may perceive as their own shortcomings. I think the flip side of negativity may be fear. In my opinion, the best we can do is to try to be kind to each other. You never know what is going on in someone else's life, and in such cases, a little positivity goes a very long way. We're all only human, and none of us gets out of here alive.

37 comments:

Russell said...

Okay ... I don't get to be FIRST very often so....!

I tell my students all the time that attitude is everything. If you walk into a room and you are smiling, feel and look confident, look people in the eyes and feel good about yourself -- that is how people around you will act, too.

Likewise, the opposite is true.

I agree with you 1,000 percent.

Patty Mooney said...

I would say not to hang out around the negative people, and spend more time around other positive people. There is also something I learned when my hubby and I were having the toughest time in our marriage that a counselor told me. It's the most valuable advice I ever received. He said "When you least want to tell your husband you love him, that is the time to do it. Just go to him and tell him you love him and you don't want to argue anymore. And then give him a hug." There was a moment when I did this, and that moment shifted our entire future. We've now been together for nearly 28 years. Best piece of advice ever.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

My mother was just such a person. Always anticipating a slight, always finding the flaws and always delighted at the misfortune of others. Being around her was always distressful for me and I never felt good about myself afterwards. I avoid people like this whenever possible. My biggest fear is to become her. I hope that I have succeeded, although from time to time I will find myself saying or doing something that she would have said or done. I recognize it immediately and stop more often than not. If I don't my husband will let me know....

TC said...

Like Kathy my mother was one of those people. She could have a sense of humor but the list of people she really liked was VERY short. My daughters say I like everybody and look for the good in them, they say this like it's a bad thing and it may be if you don't see the truth. I often think I've carried it too far but there is a balance. Life is too short for being miserable whatever your circumstances.

Marguerite said...

I agree with you 100%, Jo. Live and let live! Some people did not have good role models, through no fault of their own, and just don't know how to be positive. I avoid negative people as much as possible.

Come on over for a visit, when you can, I have an award for you!

Lover of Life said...

I think you hit it right with fear being beneath negativity. The only way to deal with it is to not absorb it. Let it flow through you. You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself, and your reactions.

Pyzahn said...

I learned a while back to just side step negative people. Friends who bring me down I've just let fall by the wayside. Too many good folk out there to fill up your life with.

I'm very susceptible to letting others push my buttons. I have to work very hard to let it go. You're right, I can't change others...and changing myself is hard enough.

pranksygang said...

you said it right Jo! at times even we tend to behave like that!
"To error is human" so we cant do anything if other commit mistakes!
we should just change ourselves rather than changing others!

Stephanie said...

I've had a slightly different experience of negativity throughout my dance with breast cancer: it's been scary how many people I've met who seem to assume that I'm as good as dead already! I've come to believe that attitude can have such an important impact not only on the way that one copes with the dance, but even on recovery.

tinkerbell the bipolar faery said...

1. Refrain from reinforcing or reciprocating their negativity.
2. We all recognize in others, the things we know in ourselves. Perhaps people that focus on the negative are projecting.
3. If someone tries to give you a gift, and you choose not to accept it, then it becomes/remains theirs

robert said...

Thank you indeed for that entry of yours. Provided much food for thought.
As time is 'running out' and lessons call, allow me to wish you a nice day.

larkspur said...

Jo, Thoughtful post (see, I can be positive!). We all encounter negativity from some people around us. I say, just give 'em a hug and a great big smile. Then walk away....

The Panorama said...

Jo, I so feel with you. I have been around negative poeple too and my advice is to stay away from them. They manage to drag you down.
You are right that thei neagtivity i sour of fear: fear that otehrs are happier or doing better.
Being kind is a good thing but some people mistake that for weakness and set about to exploit it...so be kind in a formal distant way and jst stay away. That's what I have learnt to do.
Nice post as always:)

Mariana Soffer said...

I liked this a lot!
Some emotions are transmitted quicker than others from one person to another. The quickest one to transmit is panic, but in general negative emotions spread quicker than positive ones.
maybe the flipside of negativity also includes anger.
Here you have more info about emotions:
http://singyourownlullaby.blogspot.com/2009/04/joy-and-happiness.html

Leah Fry said...

I think the worst part of that negative mindset is the people who are so insecure they find it necessary to push another down to keep or bring themselves up. If these sorts of people are "friends," it's easy enough to back away and supplant with other friends. When you work with those sorts of people, there's not much choice other than to make a real effort not to allow them to taint your psyche.

Brenda said...

Most of the time I am able to stay away from negativity. I have to... to maintain my own mental health and well being. When I am unable to avoid those situations, I vent with my husband and that helps. But then I have to shake it off and that takes too long.
I have stopped trying to analyze people or help them or be especially nice to them. I just try to run like hell to get away from them.

PhilipH said...

Had a fight at school with a bully who had hit a new boy. Big punch-up after cricket that day. I came off much the worse. My Dad came to the school next day, ranting about my cut and bruised physog. Soon healed up.

Two years later I broke my wrist. Having a wax-bath in physio, half asleep. Felt something touch my wax covered hand in the wax-tub.

The bully-boy was opposite me. He had got a job in a factory. The guillotine he was using sliced all his right-hand fingers off. He was touching my hand with his stumps!

My immediate thoughts were "serves you right for punching kids with that fist!"

Never saw him again. Was I being negative? Probably, but I was still a schoolkid. Kids can be very negative and cruel.

Today of course I would have been shocked and totally sympathetic. We change, as life zooms by.

Katy said...

Have you been hanging around my office? You just discribed almost all of my co-workers, but they are a lot meaner than the situation you discribe.

Negitivity just has a way of sucking you in and festering. Its truely horrible.

The Bug said...

Working in Human Resources can definitely show you all the negative people in a workplace! And it's easy to get pulled into that cycle - either of agreeing with them or not agreeing with them vehemently. My natural disposition has been hair trigger temper, lots of spewing, & then the next time I see you I can't remember why I was mad. People must think I have multiple personalities!

HAPPY IN NEVADA said...

Well your timing is certainly optimum for me! The club-house door just opened, so I could hook up and do a little blog-reading before we start seeing the sights around here.

Last night I dealt with another negative person (like we all tend to encounter more than we'd like), and as I usually do, I keep feeding back that I think their viewpoint that sounds so depressing or critical, must be because they are surely under pressure; feeling tired, and possibly carrying too heavy a load and possibly might need a 'break', so when this used to happen to me when I was on my job, I'd offer to get them a cup of coffee; possibly do a simple task for them like making copies or giving a hand with their typing or filing even though it wasn't part of my 'job description'.

I spent 20 years in military and electronic warfare projects; I saw the 'gray' in the industry - meaning the lack of joy in many other people's careers.

I spent 12 years in H. R. and started as inventory control manager as well as Assistant to 2 vice presidents of large companies, and assistant to 1 president before I turned to the military/EW career. From both the private sector to the government sector, it was a small percentage of people who could approach their jobs and lives with a daily attitude filled with positive thinking, and I always noticed it was the successful people who were promoted and respected, that remained positive through 'thick and thin'.

Coming from a 100% German family - both sides almost rejoicing in slamming negatives at each other as a form of 'testing' each other's ability to deal with the insults and criticisms, I was well trained to know how to deal with the outside world, but I also knew that I had no intention of carrying on my family's tradition of thinking always on the 'dark side'.

You are what you believe you are; what you choose to see - the goodness, no matter how small, is there so you make it the bright light that is like the sun that breaks through the heavy clouds.

You become the beneficiary of your own willingness to remain positive and 'impose' that upon those who are so glum.

I've even been told by some, they get tired of my 'Pollyanna' attitude, but in the end, I've never made an enemy; have enjoyed wonderful friendships, and overcome those who even (at first) have excluded me because they felt my personality just couldn't be 'real', if I was so happy all the time.

I remember my grandfather nick-naming me 'Sunshine' because he said I was so delightful like the sun. My uncle calling me 'Happy', because I always was.

You simply dish back the sunshine and the happiness, and they either break down and join you, or retreat to their cubicles; offices, and homes totally confused about what makes you so joyful.

As the Germans also say: "Keep them confused".....but there are many ways to confuse someone, and doing it with being joyful and positive in your dealings with them, is one of them.

It was an excellent topic; timely, and I have to say that before the evening was over for me, that negative person had given me a sincere apology for being 'hateful', as she called it. Sunshine wins pretty much of the time, and rainbows can't come without a little rain..........

Starlene said...

The 'love' you've extended, despite the nastiness, is what will save us all. It's hard to stop the cycle of negativity because it's just so contagious. But if we can all try to step back from the negative talk of others, not participate, and not judge them for doing it, then one day, it might stop.

Mean Mama said...

Is that painting along with the post yours Jo? I maintain that you are an artist, and would be successful at supporting yourself with your art. Start slow, then you will get demands for it. You would then be surrounded by positive people who were paying you because they like your work. I think your work would look very nice displayed in a restaurant or coffee house. I am from a family of artists two of them are very successful, and I would be better if I worked at it. My art has been in art shows, sold in coffee houses and restaurants and by private buyers on a small scale, if I can do it (with less talent than you have) I know you could.

lovelyprism said...

You're right and so is Russell. I tend to be negative, took me all these years to be a little more positive. It helps with life in general. I must admit though, sometimes pointing out a negative in a humorous way is still so much fun.

leilani said...

Jo, i pondered on this awhile back. I realized that if there is negative in my life , I Leilani have attracted it to me. I began to realize that I get back what I put out. It was a hard pill for me to swallow let me tell you. I now at this moment in my life try to maintain and be responsible for what I give OUT, and that definately has altered what i GET BACK =0)

Leslie: said...

I've had to cut off friendships because of just that type of negativity. If it's not directed at someone else, it's directed at the person him/herself and I just can't get dragged down into that type of attitude. It's tough enough to have to deal with life on one's own without having to constantly prop someone else up. Great post. :)

Lorna said...

Jo, I hope that all is well otherwise, and that the rest of your day is ok, preferably that it is a happy day. I have had a good past several days and things are looking up for me, and I hope that you can catch my Happy Bug.

You are a wonderful person. There will always be times when even the nicest people can get on your nerves.

Remember: Life is short and very very sweet. I find that it is better to focus anger on big issues like politics, where correctly focused anger can be good, and not focus anger on people, because doing so provides a never-ending menu of ways to be upset.

Avoid the people who bring out the worst in you. Stick around those who bring out the best in you. It's old advice but still good advice; it has worked for me all my life. It makes a path for true love, I promise you.

Lorna

Lorna said...

Hey, Lovely Prism: You are right about using humor! It's true. :-)


~Lorna

Cyth said...

I'm just catching up myself, so I want to tell you that I loved your I'm late, I'm late. I can soooo identify.

Living Day to Day with Multiple Sclerosis said...

I am so thankful for this blog. I just blogged about some people in my life that are really stressing me out. They are so cruel and I keep letting them get to me. I blogged about this and a wonderful friend Rae sent me to your blog. Between what you wrote and the responses it helps me a lot. Thank You!!!

Marcos Vinicius Gomes said...

I turn my back and go away when I meet negative people. I dislike be side someone that bring to you bad perspective about everthing. Life is so good looking to it in an optimistic way, obviously we have to get good sense, we have to look to life in a reasonable optmistic way...

John said...

Jo, thanks so much for writing this. As you can see, you have touched so many with this topic! What is most obvious in these comments are to avoid negative people. They are like vampires, who drain every drop of positive energy from you and leave you feeling lifeless.

And your timing is impeccable! (What are you, a mind reader too?) I was just telling someone yesterday that I avoid certain people, because they are just too negative! It is hard to explain that to people, if they haven't experienced it.

So, I have sent this link to many people today, because you and the commenters have said so much more than I ever could about the subject. Again, thank you!

meggie said...

So true! so true. I applaud you.

the walking man said...

There is only one response to the world when it surrounds you with the negative...laughter at the foolishness of it all.

Jo said...

Hello everyone! Thank you for your wonderful, thoughtful comments. Once again -- *sigh* -- time got away on me, and I have not had a chance to respond to each of you personally. Tomorrow is Saturday -- yay! -- and I will be over to visit your blogs.

Nose_in_a_book said...

I've unfortunately had the experience of living with people who suffered from depression and it's very difficult, living with that constant negativity but not being able to dissuade them from it. In their case, choosing not to spend time with them because of their illness would be unfair and detrimental so I had to learn ways of dealing with their attitude. Some days a forced sunshiny, bouncy persona would do the trick, others I would change the subject every time they started getting negative, others I would debate their reasons for thinking the worst of everything, others I would just offer my company/support.

Obviously it's very different from people who choose to be negative for their own enjoyment but thankfully I've been able to avoid those people most of my life. When some people's lives are made unhappy by being forced into that dark place, why anyone would choose to go there is beyond me.

Paula Slade said...

Life is very difficult if you are surrounded by so much negativity. Sometimes you just have to step back and say no to negativity. Create a different path or paradigm by surrounding yourself with people who embrace you and celebrate your gifts.

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