What About Their Negativity?

After last week’s article, I received a question from one of my fabulous readers! Here’s what she asked:

I get it that we need to pay attention to what we are saying, be it out loud or inside our heads, and I work on that all day.  But what do I do about all the negatives my friends spout unconsciously?  It’s enough that they do it about themselves or the world, but they often will do it about me and my experiences.  I don’t want to lay my worldview on everyone daily, or insist on my approach to life being the correct one and refuse to hear them, so what would you say is the best way to respond?

I do not recommend this tactic.

First, thank you so much for your question! I think this is a pretty common one, as I hear it fairly regularly in my circles.

Second, very cool that you are working on your own mindset so much throughout the day and that you are consciously not wanting to push your philosophy on others! You’ve already got the foundation for the solution to this problem well under way.

The brief answer to the main part of your question is this: you don’t. Choose to focus your attention elsewhere when your friends go to Negative Nelly Land. You can either smile and gracefully change the subject or suddenly remember a very important phone call you have to make… then exit stage left.

Often, our initial reaction to friends who are in particularly yucky-feeling-places is to go right to figuring out how to get them to change what they’re doing or how they’re reacting so that we can feel better. That last bit is the operative piece of the sentence, though. We want to feel better, but our desire to get there sometimes makes us feel like we have to go “out there” and change that stuff or that person or that conversation or whatever. Instead of looking inward and discovering what thoughts we are thinking that are attracting that aspect of our friend’s personality to be what we experience of them.

And that never works. Ever.

This next part is for all you <ahem> control freaks out there (something that, I assure you, I know nothing about): Even when you are 100% certain you know exactly what’s best for someone else and if they would just heed your bright, shiny advice, everything would instantly and magically be transformed for them, STOP. Right. There.

Your response is only going to drop both of you down into a worse-feeling-place than you already are. The reason is that, ultimately, what you resist will persist. AND, your friends who are unknowingly causing you so much consternation are simply a reflection of you. And, I don’t mean that in the bad way. I just mean that there is some aspect of their emotional state that is an energetic match for something in your emotional state. You have, like a radio dial, tuned into this “negative” aspect of their energy. And, just as you tuned into it, you can tune to a different station, instead.

The other thing I want to say about this is that your friends are giving you a gift. Each time you know what you don’t want, you are able to get clearer about what you do want… which is a very good thing. The clearer you are, the easier it will be for you to have all of the things you want in every relationship you experience. We are all traveling through this life together, providing each other with opportunities for growth, for expansion, for learning. So, don’t forget to thank your friends, even when they’re driving you crazy!

Finally, I think the specifics of how to deal with this issue depends. This is why I love Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning sessions with my clients. I find that horses are incredibly helpful in giving people the opportunity to learn how to react in exactly these kinds of situations. Because the horses are not concerned in the least with politeness, you can be very aware of how your authenticity (or lack thereof) in communicating is being interpreted. It’s almost like a role-playing situation, with the goal being to learn to feel the best way to handle a situation to have the best possible outcome.

Try this: My sense is that you may have created a habit around the way you view the emotional state of your friend(s). Just as habits can be created, they can be changed. So, each time you start to allow your attention to settle on their problems, gripes, complaints, just gently guide your thoughts to their solutions, excitements and yahoos! Eventually, this will become your new standard of thought for interactions with this person.

Eventually, you will start to notice that you just don’t have these un-fun scenes in your life anymore, or at least not to the extent that you do currently. All of a sudden, one day, you’ll think to yourself, “Huh. Ya know, I’ve not noticed one single solitary nasty comment coming from Jane in ever so long… Guess she’s had an attitude adjustment.” Except, it wasn’t Jane whose attitude was adjusted, it was yours all along. 🙂

So, what do you think, dear friends? How do you deal with this situation in your own lives?