Knowing that it is best for our mental health to stay away from negative people is easier said than done! Perhaps you have to deal with a negative person at work or within your family. Here we look at the reasons why is it essential to protect your boundaries and some useful techniques to keep the negativity at bay.
How do we define a negative person?
None of us are sunshine and rainbows all of the time! Chronically negative people are, however, a whole different kettle of fish. We are talking here about those friends who cannot muster a smile on the happiest of occasions and face every opportunity with portents of doom and gloom.
Why is it dangerous to spend too much time around negative people?
Dorian Crawford, PsyD, explains that staying away from negative people is important for your health. She explains that these sorts of interactions
‘take their toll by inducing tension and perpetuating anxiety and stress hormone production. These are just the types of behaviors that raise blood pressure, cause cortisol over-production, and turn muscles into knots.’
It seems clear cut, but again, it isn’t always so easy to simply cut somebody out of your life. Often, negative people don’t realize they bring such a dark cloud to their friendships. They may, in fact, consider themselves pragmatic and sensible!
Could you be considered a negative friend yourself? It is worth spending a little self-reflection taking it into consideration. Ask yourself: do you bring your best self to each of your relationships or do you let your stresses and strains rub off on others?
Why do you need to stay away from negative people?
They have a problem for every solution
Don’t waste your time on people who’ve got a problem for every solution.
Spending time around naysayers can sap the joy from your life. If each success is counteracted with negativity, it can over time chip away at your optimism and happiness.
Friends of negative people may decide not to share their good news or achievements at all, for fear of having them ignored or, even worse, criticized. This long-term negativity can damage relationships, impact your communication skills, and take away the fun of friendships when the good times can’t be shared.
Negativity is catching
This isn’t necessarily true for everybody. But if you spend most of your time around negativity, there is a real risk that it will leech into your personality.
We become affected by that which we see and absorb most. So when you spend lots of time around uplifting, positive, and proactive people, this can elevate your emotions. Similarly, spending too much time around the opposite can start making you behave like seeing the dark side is the norm.
Too much is never enough
The automatic reaction of a positive person in the face of negativity is to try and counteract it. However, you can’t persuade a negative person. You could try consistently to explain the positives in a situation and help alleviate their doubts and will never succeed. This can sap away at your energy, and leave you feeling exhausted.
You will begin to doubt yourself
We all need a little encouragement from time to time. Whether it is to go ahead and apply for your dream job, or to pluck up the courage to ask somebody for a date, having the support and assurance of your friends helps bolster your confidence when you need it most.
Spending time around a negative individual will do the opposite. They will always see the worst-case scenario and discourage you from making any progress. Over time, this can lead to self-doubt and start to irreparably damage your confidence.
You won’t have any fun
This goes without saying, but the more time you spend around gloomy people, the less time you will spend having fun. Life is short and meant to be enjoyed. So writing off a chunk of your life that you will spend in miserable company just isn’t a good use of your time.
How to stay away from negative people?
Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you.
Learning that there is somebody in your life that you wish to spend as little time with as possible is one thing. Learning the techniques and strategies to stay away from negative people is another issue.
1. Make sure it isn’t a one-off
Try to keep a level head and ensure that you aren’t discarding a potentially beautiful friendship because somebody you know is having a bad time. Getting into a rut after disappointments is common. So be careful about making knee jerk reactions to cut somebody out of your life if they aren’t displaying their usual cheery personality.
2. Try to talk it through
Some people have no idea how they come across and might not realize that their attitude is making them a misery to be around. If you value your relationship or once did, it is worth taking a little time to explain how they make you feel, and perhaps why you don’t wish to spend as much time with them as you used to. This could be the wake-up call they need to start displaying a little more positivity!
3. Stand your ground
The decision to stay away from negative people can easily make you get sucked into a negativity spiral and feel that you are somehow at fault.
If you have decided that you don’t wish to spend any more time with somebody and that their grumpiness is dragging you down, then make that decision and stick to it. It is for more important to protect your mental health than to feel compelled to keep putting up with it.
4. Put up your boundaries and protect them
Should you have no choice but to deal on occasion with a negative person – for example, if they are a colleague at work or part of your extended family – you can still protect yourself from their negative influences.
Decide what conversations you will and will not tolerate. Don’t be afraid to walk away when you need to. It is fine to have to deal with a colleague at work if you are collaborating on a project, but you have no obligation to listen to their comments around your personal life.
5. Don’t apologize
The first rule of mental health:
Learn to distinguish who deserves an explanation; who deserves only one answer, and who deserves absolutely nothing.
Whatever reason lies behind negativity, it is not your responsibility to fix it or tolerate it. You have to make your own life choices, and whilst it might feel sad to have to walk away from a relationship, you do not have to justify it.
If you feel that an explanation is due, then you can explain that you need to surround yourself with more upbeat people to protect your mental health and leave it at that. A good friend who hasn’t meant to be hurtful will try to change their ways. On the contrary, a truly negative person will continue as they are. Either way, being true to your needs is the only way forward.
Remember that not all people in your social circle are meant to stick with you. Sometimes, you need to protect your sanity and the only way to do it is to stay away from negative people.
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