5 Ways to Manage a Negative Nelly

May 11, 2015 | 16 Comments »

5 Ways to Manage Negative PeoplePeople regularly ask how to keep others from bringing you down when you’re trying to hold a good vibe.

It’s something we’ve all run into before, I suspect.

In fact, you guys gave great advice for how to handle that in this Q&A post from last year.

Since it’s such a common question, I wanted to address it again.

Whether it’s

  • a spouse gifted at seeing what’s gone wrong when you’re trying to be optimistic, or
  • a co-worker who can’t stop complaining, or
  • a friend with a habit of judging and criticizing …

… it’s good for a conscious creator to know how to handle that kind of input.

We all know how wearing it can be to try to help a faultfinder see things differently. In fact, if we spend too much time doing that, we may end up as discouraged as they are.

Here’s what I’ve found works:

1. Limit exposure.

Sometimes it’s as easy as choosing not to interact with the negative nelly in your life. You can end friendships or romances that require more work to stay in positive territory than it’s worth. You can even minimize time spent with family members who are chronic complainers.

If you’re stuck at work with a co-worker who brings you down, I know people who have employed ear buds, strategic turning of chairs, adjusted schedules, etc. to create time away from the draining colleague.

Often this is the path of least resistance that we don’t even consider choosing. But if that doesn’t feel fab, try the next suggestion:

2. Let them have it their way.

Because we know the power of thoughts, we’re often tempted to help friends and loved ones switch out of their negative mindset. But that can backfire. (What we resist persists.)

In the interests of not offering resistance, you might even try “loving this about them.” You know we practice that with our own self-love (loving the ‘unlovable’)? It can be a transformational experiment to practice embracing them with their negativity and all.

After all, you know why we love Oscar the Grouch, Grumpy Cat, and Up’s ornery old guy so much? Because they’re rather entertaining when we know they can’t hurt us.

So best advice is to remember that we don’t all have to agree, and your good vibe doesn’t depend on theirs. So don’t exert a lot of effort trying to convince them life is good. Just let them be (maybe even love them for it) and follow the next tip:

3. Get grounded in your perspective.

Don’t let them sway you to the dark side. There’s this thing called entrainment, where someone who is strongly committed to a particular vibration can sweep others up in it. Remember how you want to feel and keep your thoughts focused where they serve you. They’ll make their exit soon enough if you can maintain your good vibe.

Here’s an example of that:

One day I was having a perfectly lovely afternoon when a boyfriend walked through my door in an exceptionally angry state of mind. I can’t remember what he was so mad about, but it was definitely directed at me.

As he ranted about whatever he was so upset about, I felt my blood pressure rising. I was starting to get hot, too (“I didn’t deserve this! What’s wrong with him?”), and I took a breath to fire back – but in that breath I had a flash of insight: this isn’t how I want to feel. I was having a perfectly nice day – why would I ruin it? This isn’t even mine. He’s the one who’s mad – I don’t have to join him in it. I know better. And I exhaled that breath I’d taken to let him have it, and instead let him continue his tirade for another minute.

And that’s about all it took for him to realize I wasn’t going to join him in this “upset” energy. He paused for my response, which I think I said something to acknowledge that I heard him. When I didn’t take the vibrational bait he turned on his heels and slammed the door behind him.

Because peace and love can’t hang with anger and hate for very long. Something’s gotta give. Make sure it isn’t you.

4. Ask them to keep it to themselves.

This isn’t appropriate for all situations, but sometimes the easiest thing to do is make a request of the person shoveling the sh*t your way.

“I’m making a concerted effort not to worry about this, so I’d appreciate it if you didn’t add to my concerns.” Or maybe something like, “I get that that’s how you feel; I see it differently. Let’s leave it at that.”

Yesterday Russ practiced this with me by simply saying, “I’m not going to argue with you about this.” And that was that. (Hint taken, sweetheart!)

I’ve asked my animal rescue friends to not share horror stories with me. They know to call me with good news. When my contact calls for help, he keeps the “problem” part of the situation to a minimum. It can be surprisingly effective to just make a solid request of someone to be more considerate about what they’re sharing.

5. Pre-pave your interactions.

And then there are times to just get magical about it. You can use your creative powers to have a different experience with the negative nelly in your life:

Set an intention in advance. Plug into the feeling you want to feel before you get there. Practice knowing them differently. Imagine positive exchanges unfolding instead of bracing for the onslaught of negativity.

My success rate with these techniques isn’t 100%, but it’s close enough to feel like magic when I remember to use it!

Bonus tip: crossing paths with someone dialed on the negative can be a wake up call to check our own perspective. If we’ve been repressing our own negative thoughts, sometimes they come out of someone else’s mouth.

More than anything it gives us a chance to walk our LOA talk by remembering external circumstances do not dictate how we feel. Rather, we choose how we feel. And we can do that right now, by choosing not to be brought down by Mr./Ms. Grumpy Pants.

Lead your own party by choosing how you want to roll, and let them make their exit if they aren’t up to speed.

Hope that offers some helpful alternatives for the next time you’re in this boat.

And I’d love to hear what’s worked for you. If you’ve got a great story to share or a tip that we haven’t covered, thanks for sharing in the comments.

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16 Responses to “ 5 Ways to Manage a Negative Nelly ”

  1. Brian says:

    6. Define what they are saying as neutral or positive.

    Another technique to add would be to not define what they are saying as negative.

    Everything in life is neutral, and you get to decide if you want to give it a positive or negative meaning. And, the meaning you give it will be the feeling and effect you receive from it. So, even if in the past you have defined what they are saying as negative, you can now define it as neutral, positive, or more positive than you previously had.

    For example, if they say, “I’m really annoyed with this thing.” You have the poetic license to, in your own mind, switch it around anyway you like to what feels best for you. So, what you hear is, “I really like having the contrast of what I don’t want so I know more clearly what I do want.” It’s your reality, and you get to decide how you receive what another is saying. Even if they give it a negative meaning, it does not mean you have to as well. You can give it a positive meaning, and still feel good.

  2. Jeannette says:

    Oh, Brian, that’s a good one – glad you added it to the list!

    It’s so true that often with just a little “poetic license” we can receive input in a completely different way. And that’s also a great LOA skill to practice!

    Thanks for chiming in on this one, Brian. 🙂

  3. Gary Bodley says:

    Hi Jeannete, This is from Joshua’s perspective:

    Positive and negative are simply judgement calls you make to determine if something is preferred or not. But these judgements are useless in the present moment because you just can’t change what is. If you can’t change the moment, then you must accept it as it is. When you judge that someone is being negative, what you’re really doing is judging them to be wrong. Since there is no wrong anywhere in the universe, they are not being wrong, they are just being. They are neutral unless you determine that they are good or bad, right or wrong.

    At some level you are a vibrational match to everything you receive. When you encounter someone who is being negative, this causes you to bristle because you deem negativity to be wrong or something unwanted, yet you’ve attracted it. It is this resistance to what you think is negative that allows negativity to show up in your life.

    A better approach would be to prefer positivity, since that aligns with who you really are and what you really want, and then to regard negativity as something that just is, neither good or bad. This is true isn’t it? If there was no negativity, no negative people and no negative things, you’d never be able to embrace that which is positive.

    When you encounter someone who is being negative, and you feel negative emotion inside, this is your indicator that you are resisting what is. You want this person to be different. You want to control the actions of others but you know this cannot be done. So rather than thinking of negativity as something to be avoided, think of it as a challenge. See if you can allow everyone to be as they are and remove your judgement from them. They have no power to influence your life unless you think they are wrong.

    We are Joshua

  4. Tim says:

    I’ve learned to treat it the same as I would my own consciousness when I get that way. I thank the powers that be for putting that ‘reality check’ in front of me. Then I convince myself that the positive vibe is the best.

    I think it’s also important to note that there’s a difference between someone who’s just feeling down and is confiding in you, and someone who has a real desire to bring you down.

    When someone is expressing a feeling they’re having, I’ve found it’s good to show empathy and acknowledge the feeling without judgement.

    By showing empathy (not sympathy), the other person often take comfort in it and is then more open to hear your positive spin on the same subject.

  5. Jeannette says:

    Gary, I like that suggestion that we look at negativity not as something to be avoided, but rather as a challenge to soften the judgment.

    Tim, I agree completely about how there’s a difference between someone just having a bad day vs. someone who is chronically negative. And different solutions are called for in each case.

    Thanks for expanding the conversation on this one, you guys! 🙂

  6. Deborah says:

    Love these ideas; one that I thought of that helps deflect the negative comments is to think of myself wearing gear similar to an umpire, everything negative that is said is deflected with the chest protector and nothing can get into my head by wearing a mask! Silly I know, but I thought that would be a fun way of looking at it! 🙂

  7. Barbara says:

    Excellent, Jeannette, as always! These are very practical ideas for anyone to start practicing now. Great post and I’m sharing! 🙂

  8. Jeannette says:

    Deborah, that visualization feels really powerful! I can see how well it would work for you.

    (I may try it myself next time it’s called for.)

    Thanks for that! 🙂

  9. Jeannette says:

    Glad you enjoyed the practical tips, Barbara. And thanks for the share!

  10. Anne says:

    I think I manifested this post. I have struggled with my significant other’s (we live together) negative/glass half empty outlook but anger him when I try to explain LOA. I was thinking about posting her asking for advice and voila! I’ve also wondered if my being annoyed by his attitude sometimes brings his attitude about? Just a rumination I’ve had.

  11. Jeannette says:

    Happy to accommodate, Anne. Thanks for co-creating it for us all to enjoy!

    And yes, I think you’re on to something about how our resistance to what we don’t want actually conjures up more of it.

    Good reason to find ways to make peace with it, so we can drop that ‘charge’ and let something good unfold instead.

    Sending good thoughts your way! 🙂

  12. Jen says:

    In psych it’s called being a “polarity responder.” I think of it as a superpower – very useful when I’m debugging code!

    I have a friend who can be a little negative – but he inspects restaurants for the health department. I like to eat out, don’t like food poisoning, and have learned to cherish this quality in him, since it keeps me safe.

  13. Jeannette says:

    Jen, what a fun turnaround! Love that!! 🙂

  14. Mitch says:

    Pre-paving interactions is my favorite option. Naysayers are so damn frustrating. And as I say that, I create them as such. But when I can take responsibility for expecting them to be the way that they are, I can start to expect them another way. If that makes sense. And by Goddess, they ALWAYS start moving in the right direction if I’m steadfast and consistent in my new expectation.

    Also, I’ve been using Byron Katie’s “The Work” up, down, and sideways lately with great results. Talk about magic! Those naysayers can say whatever the frick they want! I’m immune! 😀

  15. Jeannette says:

    So true, Mitch, about pre-paving! I’ve experienced miracles there, too.

    Thanks for the Byron Katie tip, too! 🙂

  16. Anne says:

    Mitch, I love the idea of expecting them another way. It’s so hard when it’s someone you care about (and live with) to not get frustrated when you see their negativity manifesting what they don’t want over and over and over. I’m going to try expecting them to be another way!

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