Negativity. It is something most of us have the pleasure of coping with every day. I personally like to believe that most of the negativity comes from outside sources, but if I were being truly honest with myself then I would also need to admit that sometimes I also fall into the pattern of focusing too much of my energy on the negative.
Is your cup half empty or half full?
I feel that before we can address coping with the negativity that surrounds us, we must first turn inward. Once we get ourselves in line, we will be in a much better position to neutralize the negativity that surrounds us.
One of the keys to changing yourself is willingness. A few weeks ago I wrote about why people do not heal (see Jan. archives). In that post it discusses how some people believe their wounds are the currency that brings them attention. It is therefore hard to let go of their wounds, as they do not really comprehend how they can solicit attention apart from their woundedness. I feel that, often (but not always) the same is the case for negativity. Thus, the first question we must ask ourselves is, “How much attention do I get in my life from complaining???”
Once you take a true assessment of where you are at, there are changes you can make in yourself.
- Turn your complaints into compliments. When tempted to complain about your work or home situation, stop yourself and instead find a compliment.
- “Thank-you” has become one of the most under-used words in our vocabulary – whenever an occasion presents itself, make sure to share your gratitude. Gratitude is a natural antidote to the poison of negativity.
- Smile! Have you noticed that many individuals will have little to no reaction to a blank stare or a frown, but many people will smile back if you initiate non-verbal communication with your pearly whites? Share your joy by showing your teeth and many will reciprocate.
- Practice random acts of kindness. It is hard to be negative when you are brightening someone’s day. Bring flowers to your secretary, cookies to your patrons, or a special hand-made gift to a friend you know has been struggling.
- Give hugs (when appropriate). Reaching out and offering a hug can be an act of comfort, friendship, love and support. This wordless gesture can be a gift to someone who is feeling down or alone – as well as a joyful person who wants you to share in their joy.
But, HOW do I neutralize negative people around me?
There are many strategies to combat the drain of negative people in your environment. You must neutralize negativity through both knowledge (enlightening yourself) and action.
- Understand that, while you cannot force anyone to change in isolation, changing yourself will automatically change the way those around you choose to relate to you. Have you ever seen the way a gear works? As it goes round and round each gear moves the next one. The people in your environment can be similar to gears. If you change the direction of one gear, all other gears are forced to change direction too. Human interaction is similar. See all of the suggestions above – they are all capable of causing this to occur.
- Do not get hooked! I repeat DO NOT GET HOOKED! It is very easy (human nature) to get pulled into the negativity, to join the gossip circles and spread the bad vibes throughout an environment. It takes more strength to resist temptation. Do not add to the gossip, instead, see if you can focus on the positives and creating healthy solutions to issues that may arise (because we all know they will!)
- Counter the negatives with a positive. When I was recently hired for my current position our company business manager was less than supportive about the branch I was headed out to manage. In fact, he blatantly said it was a waste of resources and should have been shut down. Ironically, this was in our first financial planning meeting. My response to him was, “Thank you so much for welcoming me to my new position. I am looking forward to assisting and cannot wait to get started.” By completely ignoring the negativity and countering it with a more positive statement, I re-routed the conversation without too much interruption.
Neutralizing negativity around you cannot happen without your active involvement in creating a positive environment. I wish I could hand you some sort of zapper that would zap every negative ion in the air around you. However, that does not exist. So, in the words of Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
You can and will make a difference, if you choose to.
With hopes for happy days ahead,