They are around us.
At work. In the neighborhood. At family functions. And, at times, in our own home.
Sometimes they come out of nowhere and just suck the life out of us. You try to remain positive and strong, but their negativity drains you, exhausts you, and may even depress you.
Call them Energy Vampires. Call them Emotional Terrorists. Call them whatever you will. But whenever you are around a negative person, you experience what Judy Orloff describes in her book, Positive Energy, "a sense of being demeaned, constricted or attacked. You intuitively feel unsafe, tense or on guard. You sense prickly, off-putting vibes. You can't wait to get away from them. Your energy starts to fizzle. You may feel beleaguered or ill."
Becoming aware is the first step. That's one helluva wake-up call!
Spotting them and gaining an understanding of how they operate is the next step (refer to my post "Do You Affect or Do You Infect With Your Energy?" ). You may know this kind of person as the drama queen or king, the criticizer, the complainer, the blamer, the fixer-upper (needs A LOT of help); you can probably add more to this list.
A. Abstain. Don't engage in the negativity. You may have provided a listening ear, offered help, and provided support in the past, but if the person continues to harp on the same issues, it's time to disengage. Try switching the topic to lighten the mood. Make for light conversation by talking about new shows, new books, daily occurrences, hobbies or happy news. If that doesn't work, then it's time to excuse yourself.
B. Breathe. The simple act of deep breathing connects you to your essence. Take a few minutes to ground yourself by inhaling calm and exhaling negativity. This helps to neutralize fear or other difficult emotions. As you exhale, visualize negativity leaving your body. Send it to the light for healing and transformation. As you inhale, visualize peace entering your body.
C. Communicate. Tell the person how it makes you feel when s/he is negative around or toward you. Do this gently as people don't like to be lectured on how to behave. You want to avoid inflaming the situation. Every time s/he tells you something negative, say, "Now tell me something positive." This serves as a neutralizer and as a gentle reminder that you will not tolerate negativity.
D. Detach. Sometimes you have to distance yourself from the person, either by reducing contact or dropping them from your life.
E. Employ a buffer. If you can avoid being alone with this person, do so. Being alone makes you the receiving end of all the negativity. Make sure you have another family member, your spouse or partner, or a friend with you in the presence of a negative person. The more, the better. Having others around may bring out a different, more positive side in that person.
F. Forgive them for they know not what they do. Some people have no idea how negative they are. You can bring it to their attention, but that does not mean that they will change their ways or thinking. Understand that you are not responsible for their behavior, but you are responsible for yours (for more on forgiveness, read my post here).
No one can tell you that dealing with a negative person is a pleasant experience. It is downright uncomfortable at times. But when we build our awareness and develop an understanding, we can take steps to protect ourselves when we do have to deal with them.
Tomorrow I will continue the ABC's of dealing with negative people. Stay tuned.