I ran a poll on Twitter asking how to deal with negative people. Overwhelmingly the response was ‘avoid them’. Pretty harsh don’t you think? Everyone’s allowed a good old moan once in a while; in fact I think it’s healthy to get your grievances out in the open. Letting them fester and grind you down only breeds resentment and unhappiness, so I think we should all feel free to talk about what’s pissing us off without fear of being deemed ‘the negative one’. But when you’re faced with someone who is so continually unhappy, when every word that comes out their mouth is a ‘poor me’ sob story – how should you deal with it? I know that it can personally leave me feeling drained, lifeless and in need of an energy boost. Here’s my advice on how to stay happy whilst dealing with this…
Establish if it’s a one off
You should first of all, go into the situation completely open minded. It’s easy to presume you know what someone is going to say before they’ve even opened their mouth, but try and ignore how they may have overreacted in the past and listen carefully to what they are complaining about. Is this something that they complain about regularly? If not then maybe it’s just a one off. If that’s the case then they should be allowed to get it of their chest, be a good mate and listen. You never know when you might need them to listen to you whinge about losing your bus pass on the way home. Whatever is bothering them might not seem important to you but it clearly is to them.
Let them vent
This can be hard. When someone wants to highlight everything bad that has ever happened to them from primary school to present day, it will test your patience. However, it is helpful to let them vent. Shutting them down or trying to change the subject will only make them feel insignificant, giving them more reason to feel sorry for themselves. Take time to let them get it all out of their system and then you can offer and advice or pearls of wisdom you have hidden up your sleeve.
Have a moan as well
Fuck it. Screw positivity and seeing the silver lining on every cloud. Sometimes we all need to wallow in our own unhappiness for a few hours whilst eating peanut butter straight out of the jar. If you’re friend is complaining about something that you identify with -or something that you simply can’t seem to comfort them about – get stuck in there too and bitch about life.
If you know you’re going round to a friend’s house and they’re destined to be in a stinker of a mood, try and entice them into doing something to take their mind of it. Using up nervous energy is great way to release your natural endorphins too so exercise is a great option! You could suggest swimming, yoga or even a walk around the shops to help act as a distraction. I would also recommend getting them to try something out of their comfort zone as the feeling of satisfaction you get after doing something you’ve always avoided is exhilarating. Even something as simple as baking a cake together can lift someone’s mood. This will also help keep your mood elevated if you’re starting to feel the weight of acting as agony aunt 24/7.
Don’t let it affect your mood
OK, granted this is easier said than done but try your best to not take on other people’s baggage as your own. You can be a wonderful friend just by being available and lending a shoulder to cry on, you don’t have to solve anyone else’s problems for them. Take it all in and afterwards try to forget about it as much as possible. This might seem insensitive but it’s important to keep your own head straight. Practising mindfulness is a great way to do this as it forces all thoughts out of your brain, leaving you with nothing but empty space and time to breath, relax and feel ready to create your own happiness.