5 Ways to Manage a Negative Nelly
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.
- 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.