Does it seem to you like there is a whole lot more negativity in the world lately? Is that ongoing negativity bringing you down? Every day, you’re most likely exposed to a variety of situations. Some, you’ll perceive as positive, others neutral, and some negative. If the unpleasant ones seem to be increasing in your life, don’t worry – you have a choice. Know that you can do something about it if you choose to do so! Your choice is up to you. My recommendation? Make the choice that helps you ensure you have a peaceful life.
We must accept that negative experiences are just a natural part of life. They may or may not have anything to do with us. Maybe your boss got up on the wrong side of the bed today and is a bit cranky, or maybe your spouse had a rough day at work and is being really vocal about it. The key is what you do about them. These situations can set you up for potential negative experiences if you allow them.
So how do you respond to negative stimuli when they occur? Are you quick to respond, or do you let it go? Are you a combination of both? (Most of us are.) If you would like to be more of the “let go” type, here are a few suggestions.
Acknowledge that getting involved in negativity doesn’t benefit anyone, and negatively is not good for you. The first thing to do is recognize when you are being drawn into a situation that is out of your control, and when it is not a good one. Commit to yourself that you’ll do whatever is necessary to avoid engaging with or promoting negativity – even if that means stepping away. Having the awareness that negativity runs counter to your values and goals will motivate you to stay away from it.
Listen to understand
Others’ negative remarks can feel quite seductive. Many of us allow ourselves to be pulled in to the emotional experience of the situation being discussed. However, if you listen actively, but refrain from commenting, you can avoid making the experience your own. Listen to understand the situation, and if there is something constructive you can offer at an appropriate time, at least you will have all the facts.
An additional benefit is that those who are bringing negativity your way will most likely avoid doing so in the future since you didn’t buy in to their story and the negative emotions, not to mention you did nothing to validate the reaction.
Change the subject
When you’ve just heard some unsavory words, why not bring up something that is positive instead? For example, if your co-worker says she’s annoyed with your supervisor, you could ask her how another project she’s pleased to be working on is progressing. If there is nothing that comes to mind right away, you can always resort to talking about weekend plans, or even the weather. Change the subject, change the focus, and the drama may just fizzle out on its own.
Focus on something else
If you’re in a group, simply ignore the negativity. Most likely, if there are two or three others present when an unconstructive discussion starts up, you can get by with ignoring the negativity or excusing yourself from the room. Sometimes, you can express the most by saying nothing at all.
Involving yourself in something that matters to you is a great method of subliminally refusing to participate in others’ negativity. Look through your handbag for that receipt you couldn’t find last night. Search your briefcase for your schedule book or that file with the information you wanted earlier. Your body language is a good way to let people know you aren’t interested in the negativity without having to say anything.
Psychologically reinforce your efforts. Say to yourself, “I think I handled that really well.” or “It was a great idea to leave the table when they all started criticizing how the boss handled something.” Allow yourself to feel proud of yourself about not joining in with the negativity around you. You’ll feel better about the situation and be less likely to get sucked in the next time.
Avoid letting others’ negativity bring you down. Instead, recognize that you’d rather not be exposed to such situations and people. Remember – it is not your issue, you are not responsible for anyone’s reaction but your own, and you are in control of what you do. Choose what is right for you.
When negativity booms all around you, choose your strategy- listen and say nothing, change the subject, or ignore it. Reinforce your efforts to avoid habitual negativity every day, and you can say good-bye to negativity and hello to a more peaceful life.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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