Q&A: A Response To Dealing With Negative People
I hope you are well and enjoying a positive start to 2018. I have a question and wondered if you would be able to share your insight?
Recently, while catching up with friends I have found there is a common process that occurs and a prominent theme.
Process: The friend appears to be busting to launch into a conversation about themselves.
Theme: Spend the time complaining about all the things they can’t do or don’t have in their life in general.
I love connecting with people and experiencing the joy we both receive from the interactions. But these past few times I have found the conversation impacting on me quite significantly – to the point where I can feel myself withdrawing from the experience, or at least wanting to. And then leaving me feeling disheartened and disgruntled at how I just spent my 1 hour or 3 hours.
The majority of our catch up is quite a negative discussion about the issues and problems they are feeling/experiencing yet, no discussion about ways to overcome it. They also appear closed if I offer new insights or positive steps to take. To be honest, I leave the catch-ups feeling they are a waste of time for both my friends and myself. And I feel like not catching up with them in future – or as often – and just continuing with my life and positive focus to keep growing. As a coach myself – and used to engaging in these types of conversations and inspiring people to action – and someone who is also now positive and action-oriented, I am feeling uncertain about the lesson in this whole process. What is your suggestion to navigate through this?
I feel like one of the biggest reasons people are held back in life is their own negativity bias and complaining just strengthens this. As I said, I love catching up with people but I really feel uncomfortable, disheartened and drained/dirty spending precious time on this earth being negative. Everything in life is a result. And we have the power and ability to choose the thoughts actions and behaviours we have and do to achieve our results.
Thank you so much for your insights, if you have the time. I admire your teachings. My husband and I have gained so much from you.
Good to hear from you. Thank you for your feedback and your question.
That’s a good, strong question, and I think you already know what I will say…
A very blunt response is to say to you that you don’t owe anyone anything, and as you evolve in this life while others simply don’t seem to, it is only natural that long time-friends are literally no longer on the same wavelength as you, so communication becomes more and more challenging.
At the moment when you speak to people like this, for the conversation to continue, you probably find yourself having to compromise your inner state, to “go lower” and meet them in their murkiness so that there can be communication. If you stayed in your own light, they would either keep talking and not even notice you aren’t giving them so much attention, or they would notice that you are losing interest in their nonsense (which they see as valid), and they would either become offended, or they would actually snap out of it - they would hear their words without you confirming their truth, and they might actually gain some clarity.
I know that part of being a good friend is often taught to us as someone that listens to problems, cares about them and even confirms that what someone is going through is not fair, etc. It feels good, in a way, to have our problems confirmed. If someone doesn’t seem to care about what you are going through, it can threaten the negativity that our identity is resting on, and it feels uncomfortable. It threatens our existence, in a way.
So, practically, if you are in these situations, just watch your own reactions. Are you acting on the surface in a different way to how you really feel? Maybe you aren’t. But if you are - if you are not interested but are still acting interested, then that is what fuels this a great deal. If you can’t be honest with your friends, then are they really your friends? If you can’t say to them “I’m sorry but this is all pointless - do you actually want to fix this, or do you just want to complain?” - then perhaps the relationship is not very authentic.
We are so trained in politeness that it becomes draining. You have to honour yourself more than someone else’s negative energy. If this means letting yourself disconnect from the apparent meaning of the conversation, being there, but not as a confirming witness of someone else’s negativity - then so be it.
To quote something you said: “I feel like not catching up with them in future – or as often - and just continuing with my life and positive focus to keep growing.”
- I think that’s awesome. Do that. Perhaps you feel as if it’s your job to keep in touch with them, be there for them or make them feel better in some way. But it isn’t. If you feel that way, it’s purely self-imposed. You can’t help anyone who isn’t open to it. Me writing this, for example, is a direct response to your openness to hear it. I’m not trying to convince you of anything, it just comes because you are ready to hear something.
There’s no problem with leaving people to themselves, whether you are physically with them or not. If you really let these people or this person be as they are, then you won’t feel you have to fix them, and so they won’t drain your energy. Then you will be less interesting to them, as they probably just want someone to agree that there is something wrong with their life. If you aren’t interested in feeding them anymore, they probably won’t want to be around you. Or, they will wake up, just by you doing nothing.
So if you don’t want to call them again, there’s nothing wrong with that. It would be crazy to want to if you feel it’s a waste of time anyway. I know it’s not as easy as I have suggested sometimes, with expectations and habits of catchups and all the rest - where the other person thinks nothing has changed but you are seeing things so differently now.
Negative relationships tend to fade by themselves, once we start to lose interest in them. If we still think we need them for something, or if we are still trying to get something out of them, then this just gives them power.
Maybe you still want to keep these relationships, or maybe you are just tired of them now. Either way, don’t be hard on yourself for not wanting to be around pointless negativity - that’s a good thing, it shows you are evolving/have evolved out of it.
Be a bit more selfish, perhaps, honour your own energy, so you have more of it to spend time doing what you really want to do. This will either start to fade out old relationships naturally, or it will transform them so that people rise up to meet you, rather than you falling down to meet them.
Not wanting to be around dark energy does not make you any less spiritual or strong. It just shows you know what is good for you, and what isn’t.
Hope that can help on the topic of how to deal with negative people.
All the best to you and your husband,
After this response on how to deal with negative people, Kate booked a one-to-one session with me to go further into a family issue. You can read her testimonial on the Inner Peace Coaching page by clicking here.