I have a fabulous question here from a “Wellbeing Wednesday” reader – love getting feedback and I love answering your questions. Here to help, yo! So today’s post is a little different: we are going to do a Q &A!
Here we go, Michelle asks:
“What can you do when your partner (and/or other people close to you) are quite negative in general, about everything (such as about other people, events, movies, anything…)? Like they have a habit of sitting around complaining and mulling in their negativity and when you ask them not to be so negative, they get really mad and say they’re not being negative?
Greeeeat question Michelle, and I am so glad you asked it as I think it’s something that a lot of us encounter. It can be both hard (and seriously annoying!) to get brought down by someone who is forever trying to burst our bubble when we are getting some good mojo going in our life. Whether that’s at home, socially, or at work; a torrent of negativity can really put a dent in our progress towards our happiest life. So, what to do?
Here’s the thing Michelle. Sad to say but some people really like to moan and be negative. It’s how they roll and negativity is kind of their currency. Being negative gets them attention. Or sympathy. Or allows them to avoid rising to a challenge. Or getting out of their comfort zone. They get some sort of psychological payoff from being negative, and they are attached to that benefit. They actually like operating that way and they have no intention of changing! Those people you cannot change. All you can do is lessen the time and influence they have on your life and choose to spend time with people who do resonate with the outlook you have on life.
Some people however have just got a bit stuck in a rut of negativity. It’s become a habit, like a reflex response. They genuinely might not realise how negative they are being and how much of an impact they are having on your life. So, speak up! Be brave. Put them in the picture in a firm but compassionate way. The key is to be ultra specific, and to deliver your message with compassion as well as showing you mean business. Try something like this:
“Honey, I don’t know if you realise but I need to let you know that I am finding many of our conversations overly negative. For example (always be specific) you said you didn’t want to see the movie because it was dumb, you wouldn’t consider either the comedy or the concert because you said they were juvenile and you said my friend Sue was a loser. When you criticise my friends and choices like this without offering positive alternatives I feel hurt (own your feelings) and it brings my mood down. I would like for you to try and be more positive more often, for example suggesting a movie you think we both might enjoy (ask for what you need, be specific) as I love you and I want to spend time with you, but I will not be able to do this if we cannot agree a more uplifting balance of negative versus positive comments in our conversations”.
Follow the formula:
1. Be specific (exact examples, be REALLY specific) .
2. Own your feelings ( “I feel hurt”, not, “you hurt me”).
3. Don’t attack (this is how it is for me, not, “you are wrong”).
4. Say what you need (I need a balance of positivity with negativity).
5. Say what you will do if the situation doesn’t change (we won’t hang out so much).
So, maybe your loved on has just got stuck in a negativity rut? Put them in the picture with how things are for you. Give them the choice to change. Then either one of two things is going to happen:
a) they will
b) they won’t
If it’s a) then all good. You have inspired a new positive lease of life in them, magic! If not well, then you have the option to choose to either put up with the continuing negativity, or to choose to spend more time elsewhere. It’s hard to make someone else change for you honey, it’s hard enough to effect change in ourselves! All you can really do is lead and inspire them with your own change. Be the happy, vibrant energetic, fun, fascinated and fascinating person you want to be. Embrace that in yourself and your life and lead the way.