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Surrounded by negativity? Don't let it pull you down

AT VARIOUS stages in your life, you will meet negative people.

Recognising the behaviour of a negative person, realising it for what it is and learning to manage or deal with negative people – at work, at home, on a committee, in your church – will help you maintain your inner peace and preserve your health.

Your mind and body operate in tandem. If you eat the right foods and exercise regularly, you will look and feel good, both physically and mentally. If you surround yourself with positive individuals, you are more likely to experience positive emotions and have a positive outlook on life.

This does not mean that you will not have challenges and disappointments in life. What it does mean is that you will handle or confront those challenges and disappointments in a positive manner that will allow you to make good of the challenge or disappointment.

Make efforts to avoid negative people. They sap all your energy and steal your joy. Nothing is ever good for a negative person and there is always something wrong with something or someone. If you bring a negative person to a lovely place with breath-taking scenery, they’re likely to say, “The view is OK, but it took so long to get here”, or, “I was expecting it to be more scenic”. If you take them to the best restaurant with the most delicious food, they will complain that the food could have been served hotter, or how they could have made ‘abc’ dish much better, or what ‘xyz’ dish was missing.

Some things just aren’t enjoyable – full stop – for negative people. They always could do it better or find some minute, infinitesimal problem or flaw. And, believe me, there is nothing you can do to change a negative person. But make sure you help yourself by keeping them atan arm’s length.

Sometimes, however, despite your best efforts, you cannot avoid them because they work or live with you. So what do you do if you’re living or working with a negative person or negative people?
Here are a few tips:

1. Spend less time in that negative person’s company

Restrict the time spent with that person to only what is absolutely necessary to complete the project at work or complete the meal at the dining table. Do not spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in their company. You need to be military about it.

2. Politely excuse yourself from their company

Find something to do where you will be out of their reach, or retire to the privacy of your room or office or some other space where you will be undisturbed by that person.

3. Change the conversation topic

You should have learned by now the conversation topics that trigger negativity with this person. Stay clear of those topics when you are in the company of this negative person. Whenever they try to bring up that topic which leads to negativity, quickly change the subject. When you change the subject, though, avoid deep or controversial topics. Stick to light topics and keep changing the subject so they don’t have time to dwell on any one topic and dig out reasons to be negative.

4. Avoid getting into an argument at all costs

An argument is always icing on the cake for a negative person because then they have succeeded in ruining your mood. If they throw a comment your way that makes you see red, then stop, smile to yourself, and do not respond. Often that comment was deliberately meant to rile you. So, do not give them the satisfaction of evoking the response they wanted.

5. Tune them out mentally

Do not give the negative person control over your mental space. You may not have control over what they say or do but you do have control over your own mind and what you do. Tune them out in your mind by thinking about something or somewhere pleasant in order to counter their negative
energy. This is by far the most powerful tool to deal with a negative person.

To conclude, I will remind you of what you ought to know, with the wise words of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician:

“Men ought to know that from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations.”

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