Living in a family, society, in this world, sometimes, you may genuinely be in a situation when, due to no apparent fault of yours, the other person is negative, indifferent, a little too critical, a bit too insensitive, and so forth. If you know how to deal with such negative people and tackle such situations, your inner state of joy and peace remains unaffected.

How do I stop with my negativity reaction?

Although before I share my thoughts on the present subject, let me elucidate my core philosophy with the help of an example:

Imagine you are a pedestrian who is out on a morning walk. A skateboarder comes from behind, loses control, and rams in you. As a result, you fall down and suffer injuries. Clearly, you were not at fault, yet, you are hurt, and you are the one in pain. Even though you are the victim, it is you who needs first-aid, medical attention, and time to recover. Regardless of whether it was an accident or a deliberate act on his part, giving medication to the skateboarder is not going to cure or heal you.

Keeping in mind the above, what ‘they’ do, why do ‘they’ do, how come ‘they’ are like this, when will ‘they’ change etcetera is not my focus, my focus is not ‘they’, my focus is you. To deal with other’s negativity, its important to understand, that we cannot change them, we can change ‘you’. They may be wrong, they may be bad, they may be negative people, the fact is if you are hurt, we have to understand how to heal you, protect you and make you strong. Whatever undesirable happens to you, it is you who has to take action if you wish to avoid it in the future.

How do you respond to negative people?

When you are surrounded by negative people, those who drain you out emotionally, tire you out mentally, pass on their negativity to you, make you feel low, insignificant, unimportant and a whole heap of other downing emotions, somewhere, it is a reflection that you are not protecting yourself, you are not watching out for yourself, you are allowing yourself to be taken for a ride, for granted.

If you expose yourself in such a manner, it is only consequential to feel pensive, vulnerable, and weak. There are steps you can take to avoid such situations, this is my focus today — how to deal with negative people. There are three things you can do, they are not mutually exclusive:

1. Express yourself

Make it clear to the other person, as politely as possible, that you do not appreciate their comments, criticism, their demeanor. Tell them you wish to remain positive and that for the relationship to prosper, you require a certain degree of respect, acceptance, and personal space. If the other person really loves you, they will certainly take a note of it. And, if they continue with their old methods, it is you who has to decide if you wish to persist and endure, or, move on. They are unlikely to change.

2. Remove yourself

If you have expressed yourself multiple times in the past and that has not changed anything, physically subtracting yourself from the situation may help you. While it may not be feasible to call it quits and break the relationship, it may be possible to simply get up and go for a walk to change the scenery and situation. It may give the other person a message. I am not suggesting you adopt this approach in every unpleasant conversation, sometimes they are natural and necessary, however, if you are facing constant criticism, from negative people, a physical change in the circumstances may be the only choice.

3. Insulate yourself

Think of the safety features in a car, the traction control system forms part of active safety and seat belts, passive safety. Insulating yourself is like the passive safety system. It does not require an explosive like the airbags to swing into action. Insulation from other person’s criticism, comments, negativity, is one of the finest, albeit not the easiest, ways to be yourself, to protect yourself, or to deal with other’s negativity.

A while ago I wrote a post on how to deal with criticism, you may want to read it again; it talks about four methods you can use to shield yourself. When you tackle any negativity or criticism or you deal with others’ negativity by insulating yourself, not only do you gain great strength, you practically render the other person powerless. Their failure to solicit a response from you, their inability to alter your state of mind, gives you a definitive edge, a certain conviction, a blanket of peace, a sense of fearlessness.

Putlibai, Mahatma Gandhi’s mother, once expressed her concern to Gandhi when she found him befriending wastrels. She was worried about her son as Gandhi was a teenager at the time.

“I don’t want you to become like them. I don’t think you should play with those kids, lest you become a loafer yourself,” she said.
“Have faith in me, Ma. I hang out with them so I may transform them. They can’t change me. I’m mentally tougher and emotionally stronger than them.”

She stood there speechless and Gandhi lived by his words for the rest of his life.

Anyone can only ever relay their negativity to you when they are stronger than you. The path to stay strong and deal with other’s negativity is not easy but very rewarding. This is why, the journey of turning inward is about transforming yourself, strengthening yourself so you may remain unaffected. What emotion you allow to sprout in your heart, the thought you harbor in your mind, the response you choose in any situation is your private affair. If you are mindful of this understanding, you will be able to deal with other’s negativity. It may be interdependent, connected, relative, it remains a personal matter. Be careful, be mindful.

Peace.
Swami