Often they’re our friends or family, and even when they’re not, we still want to show compassion, to help them feel better. But question is how to stay happy while dealing with negativity?
When I was a child, I wanted everyone to be happy and I still do, but as I grew up, I realized that happiness is subjective and a choice, and there are some people who can’t find happiness or don’t choose find happiness in their lives. These are the people that become the energy vampires, wittingly or not.
The question becomes how do you help them and not get sucked into their spiral of negativity? Lori Deschene from “Tiny Buddha” offers some good advice and to help you protect yourself and perhaps lend a helping hand at the same time. Without further ado there’s Lori…
1. Resist the urge to judge or assume.
It’s hard to offer someone compassion when you assume you have them pegged. He’s a jerk. She’s a malcontent. He’s an–insert other choice noun. Even if it seems unlikely someone will wake up one day and act differently, we have to remember it is possible.
When you think negative thoughts, it comes out in your body language. Someone prone to negativity may feel all too tempted to mirror that. Try coming at them with the positive mindset you wish they had. Expect the best in them. You never know when you might be pleasantly surprised.
2. Dig deeper, but stay out of the hole.
It’s always easier to offer someone compassion if you try to understand where they’re coming from. But that can’t completely justify bad behavior. If you show negative people you support their choice to behave badly, you give them no real incentive to make a change (which they may actually want deep down).
It may help to repeat this in your head when you deal with them: “I understand your pain. But I’m most helpful if I don’t feed into it.” This might help you approach them with both kindness and firmness so they don’t bring you down with them.
3. Maintain a positive boundary.
Some people might tell you to visualize a bright white light around you to space when other people enter it with negativity. This doesn’t actually work for me because I respond better to ideas in words than visualizations. So I tell myself this, “I can only control the positive space I create around myself.”
Then when I interact with this person, I try to do two things, in this order of importance:
- Protect the positive space around me. When their negativity is too strong to protect it, I need to walk away.
- Help them feel more positive, not act more positive–which is more likely to create the desired result.
4. Disarm their negativity, even if just for now.
This goes back to the ideas I mentioned above. I know my depressed friend will rant about life’s injustices as long as I let her. Part of me feels tempted to play amateur psychiatrist–get her talking, and then try to help her reframe situations into a more positive light.
Then I remind myself that I can’t change her whole way of being in one phone call. She has to want that. I also can’t listen for hours on end, as I’ve done in the past. But I can listen compassionately for a short while and then help her focus on something positive right now, in this moment. I can ask about her upcoming birthday. I can remind her it’s a beautiful day for a walk.
Don’t try to solve or fix them. Just aim to help them now.
5. Temper your emotional response.
Negative people often gravitate toward others who react strongly–people who easily offer compassion or get outraged or offended. I suspect this gives them a little light in the darkness of their inner world–a sense that they’re not floating alone in their own anger or sadness.
People remember and learn from what you do more than what you say. If you feed into the situation with emotions, you’ll teach them they can depend on you for a reaction. It’s tough not to react because we’re human, but it’s worth practicing.
Once you’ve offered a compassionate ear for as long as you can, respond as calmly as possible with a simple line of fact. If you’re dealing with a rude or angry person, you may want to change the subject to something unrelated: “Dancing with the Stars is on tonight. Planning to watch it?” Continue reading here…
Tapping into your own inner guidance is straightest line to your own happiness and before you can help others you need to be sure you’ve connected you’re your own wisdom and balance.
When you do connect, in the same way darkness cannot stand against the light, negativity fades is the glow of happiness and joy.
Emotions are contagious, so when you enter any situation with a lively, positive, cheerful and pleasant presence, others become infected. In this case it’s an infections a good thing.
Everything in life is a practice and learning how to stay happy while dealing with negativity is no exception, but with the help of Lori’s advice and connecting with your own inner awareness you will be able to tap into your compassion and spread the joy.