How to Respond to Negative People
We all have these people in our life. They love to complain, won’t take advice, and if you are a happy person they think it’s because you are lucky and not because of your attitude. We all have problems. Some people are negative because they are so overwhelmed and don’t know what to do and think the situation is hopeless, some are under too much stress and so see everything through a negative lens, and some are just naturally pessimistic.
Also, hurt people hurt people.
Tired people hurt people.
Sad people hurt people.
People who don’t like themselves hurt people.
And even if we are an optimist and generally happy person, their negativity can suck us in especially if we care deeply about them. (By the way, negative people are not bad people. This is is just their way of relating to the world for whatever reason.) So what can we do? How can we respond to negative people?
It’s Okay to Set Boundaries
First of all, we need to be granted permission to set boundaries. Does this mean we are heartless and don’t care? Does this mean we cut them out of our life because they are “toxic”? No, it simply means we aren’t taking responsibility for their problems anymore. After all, why should we spend more time and energy solving their problems than they are? That doesn’t make sense. We are resigning from the role of doctor, therapist, savior. (Reminds me of a song.) By doing this, you show empathy but accept that they are the way they are because they want to be that way and it’s their choice to live that way. You are respecting their choices.
My Favorite Go-To Responses
I find it’s super helpful to have go-to responses for difficult situations when someone is venting to you again and doesn’t want advice and you feel so compelled to give it but giving it is only going to frustrate both you and the other person. They aren’t looking for advice.
- It sounds like you are having a really hard time right now.
- I hear you.
- I’m so sorry you are going through that. Let’s schedule a time to talk about it.
- I’m sorry you are feeling that way, I hope you will find some relief soon.
- That sounds really hard but I’m sure you’ll find a way to make it work.
- That is so hard that you feel like that, what have you tried to do to make it better?
As you see, in each case your are showing love and empathy but not taking responsibility for solving their problem. You can go on in your life and pray for them, maybe do something kind and make them a cup of tea, and focus on your own problems. We can’t make someone better if they don’t want to get better. It just ain’t gonna happen.
As you may know by now, I am a big fan of Julia Kristina and she made a great video on this subject.
On no, I think I’m a negative person
So if upon reading this you realized that you can be quite the negative person, that’s okay! That’s actually really good in fact. Self-awareness is the first step in making any major life change. Here’s another video that may help you: