Staying Chilled this Christmas if Negativity Pops Round for a Visit

This time of year holds the promise of joy and unity, but for many it also presents with the challenge of dealing with those who may not, for whatever reasons, be able to embrace the yuletide festivities.  Unacceptable, negative and demeaning behaviour has many guises.  If we can explore what constitutes unacceptable behaviour and take a closer look at why people might be displaying negativity, it can assist us in lightening our energy, setting healthy boundaries and enjoying a more chilled Christmas.

First of all, let’s take a look at what constitutes unacceptable treatment/behaviour.

Rejection, abandonment, making you feel unwelcome, someone being competitive or hypercritical of you, pressuring or forcing you to be someone you are not, blaming, ostracising, manipulating, belittling, neglecting and abusing you…the list goes on and on and on. These types of experiences can make a deep imprint on our hearts and inhibit our ability to react without them being present in the back of our minds. This in turn can lead to our reactions to life becoming sceptical, doubtful, and fearful and we more often see the dark/negative instead of the light in both people and situations.

1. Where’s it coming from?

Do you understand why this person is so negative? Is it because they hate their job, feel frustrated, feel trapped in their life or do they lack in self-esteem, so the only way they can feel powerful is by hurting others? If you can understand where it’s coming from, it’s much easier to deal with. Some people seem to think that the only way they can get what they want is to be manipulative. Remember the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil.” They believe this and think that if they don’t complain that they won’t be heard and that this is the only way to get what they want. They believe that this is the only way to ‘be heard’ or get attention and invariably will be a long held belief; albeit it dysfunctional one.

Remember that the negative behaviour is a reflection of them. It tells you what kind of person they are and what issues they may be dealing with. It’s not a reflection of who you are.

2. Just smile and remain completely detached

Whenever the negative tirade starts, try just smiling and don’t say anything. Remain completely detached from it and don’t get involved in it. Leave the room if you can. Some negative people are simply seeking to get a reaction from you. That’s what they feed on. Don’t let them catch you in their web of negativity because as soon as you do, that’s when they start draining your energy.

It’s the emotions that these negative people stir up in you that you need to learn to distance yourself from. Try just observing the whole scene. Say to yourself, “what a shame this person is so unhappy. Maybe some of my positive energy will rub off on her/him. If not, their unhappiness has nothing to do with me.” This isn’t always an easy thing to do but definitely a powerful technique. In order to get the full benefit from it, you need to make sure that you’re aware of what’s going on around you. It’s easy to slip into auto-pilot and not realise until later how drained you feel. You need to detach yourself from the event while it’s happening and just observe it.

3. Let the Negativity Pass

Whatever you do, do not argue with a negative person. Arguing only adds fuel to the fire. A negative person will feed off any negativity that will strengthen his/her mood or attitude. Their negativity intensifies and the situation gets worse before it gets better. Sometimes the best thing to do is remain silent and let the negativity pass.

4. Negative People Need Love

You know how difficult it can be to give love and positive attention to negative people. Unfortunately, that is often exactly what they need. Deep inside that critical person is a person that is usually afraid he or she is unlovable. It is our challenge to rise above the negative attitude and love the injured person inside. How do you show love when someone is negative? See if you can listen to what he/she is trying to tell you. Acknowledge the feelings she has by saying something like, “You sound very angry right now”. Even if you don’t quite understand the person’s feelings, know that your reality is different than someone else’s. Ask how you might help the negative person. This shows legitimate interest in his/her happiness. Offer a hug even if you get rejected. Remember not to take a rejection of your love personally. A negative person often has difficulty receiving love from others.

5. Focus on the Positive

If you try really hard, there is always something positive to be found in any situation. Pretend you are on a treasure hunt and search for any nuggets of gold you can find! Even a negative person has positive qualities. When a person is drowning in negativity, it can be difficult for them to see the positive.  Of course, sometimes a negative person doesn’t want to see the positive. This might require him/her to shift their outlook. Negativity can become a habit and habits are hard to break. Be patient and gently remind your grumpy friend or family member to look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Hopefully, in their down time, they will begin to reflect on what you have said.  If they choose not to, don’t have expectation or need attached to their behaviour; they may not be ready, may feel unable to change or it may simply seem too frightening a prospect to them.

6. Ask Negative People to Elaborate

You may hear a negative person say things like: “Women are fickle.” “You can’t trust doctors.” “My husband makes me miserable.” These kinds of statements are a type of cognitive distortion referred to as generalisations. To help a person sort through their distorted thinking, ask for more specifics. Questions like “Which women are fickle?” or “What specifically about your husband is making you miserable?” forces a person to evaluate what he or she is really trying to say. A negative person will either give up because it takes too much effort to explain themselves, or he/she will get to the bottom of the issue.

7. Detach and Avoid Trying to Change the Negative Person

Learning to detach emotionally from a negative person can greatly benefit you and the other person. A negative person will fight you if you try to change them. If you want, you can try a little reverse psychology and agree with everything he/she says.

8. Keep Your Own Negative Thoughts and Behaviours in Check

If you do nothing else but focus on managing your own negative thoughts and behaviour, you will come a long way towards remaining positive. A negative attitude is contagious, but a positive attitude is infectious as well. Spend time with positive people that encourage you to be your best self. Use positive affirmations to overcome negative self-talk. Express your gratitude for all the positive things in your life. Take the time every day to watch all the beautiful things going on around you. Read inspirational material and listen to joyful music. Take care of yourself spiritually. Do whatever you have to do to remain positive and happy despite the negativity you face. The world will be a better place because of you and your attitude. And you never know, you just might help a negative person make a change to a better way of living.

Be the change you wish to see in the world/in others.  Above all know you are not the person who is behaving negatively and their behaviour is showing you how you do not want to be, so there is a lesson and even  a ‘gift’ in there for you, no matter how hard that may seem at the time.  Letting go can prove to be more helpful than grasping at toxic strings, looking for ‘what ifs’ or chasing disillusioned beliefs. At the end of the day, we are all certainly in this together, but each of us has an honest obligation to do what is best for ourselves. You can be a lantern of hope, you can lead by example but you can’t force anyone to change.

Wishing you a blessing-filled Christmas with peace, love and joy at the fore x

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