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How To Stop Negative People From Affecting Your Life

Because negativity is contagious!
PHOTO: Nick Onken

People exude negativity in various ways: by telling you that you can’t achieve anything or can’t do a particular task; by always seeing the worst in things; by snapping and lashing out at you nearly all the time; or by frequently saying mean things about other people. As much as you don’t want to be like the nega people in your life, a part of you worries their negativity will rub off on you one day. And it is possible, because emotions are contagious. Negativity is contagious. Your parents’ pessimism, a best friend’s general distrust toward the world—they can get to you if you’re not careful with yourself.

Here are ways to make sure your heart stays hopeful, as well as how to spread the positivity in you.

1. Choose the people you surround yourself with.

This doesn’t apply in all situations, but it’s important that you do it when you can, since there will be people or experiences that will make you doubt yourself. Screwed up at work? Someone telling you that you’re mediocre? (Even if you were mediocre, it’s not conducive to your personal growth to box yourself that way, BTW.) Not only do you need someone you can talk to about what you feel, you also need to be around someone who believes in you and will cheer you on. That kind of person will help you stay strong. Also, although negativity is contagious, positivity can be, too.

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2. Understand where the negative person is coming from.

Negative people don’t feel respected or loved enough, according to psychologist Dr. Raj Raghunathan in Psychology Today. That’s why they demand that other people respect and love them. Does that sound familiar? Some of those negative people also feel like they lost control of their lives, so they strive to control other people’s. Again, does that sound familiar? We can’t know for sure what negative people truly feel and how intense their emotions are. But that doesn’t mean all of them are coldblooded creatures. They’re people—they have their own issues, insecurities, anxieties, demons, and skeletons haunting them. Sometimes, you just have to cut them some slack. Shrug. Try to consider things from their perspective. If you do this, you’ll find yourself feeling better (and feeling like the better person). How you act when you’re in an understanding mood will do wonders.

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3. Show the nega people you’re in control of your life.

Let’s say your parents are overbearing and discourage you from making your own life choices, because they think you’ll make a big mistake. Let’s say you’re sick of just obeying them and their plan for you. The way to finally be able to steer your life? Show your parents you’ve thought your choices through. Don’t just tell them doing ~*this thing*~ will make you happy, or that it’s what you love. As much as they want you happy, they need to know you’ll be covered when the inevitable happens. So yes, you’ll need your detailed Plan A to Plan Z to present to them. The assurance will convince them to let you make your choice. It will earn their trust, too.

4. Check when you can confront them.

You need to evaluate the right time to confront the negative person in your life. Remember to be respectful the whole time, so both of you can come out of it alive. Most of the time, confronting people about their negativity is a bad idea if you want them to react positively. Generally speaking, it’s hard for us to take certain criticisms about ourselves. We get mad at that person confronting us. We deny. We start being overly defensive. The same thing will most likely happen when you tell someone that she needs to lighten up.

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Additionally, being preachy about the importance of staying positive might pull you two further apart—she might even call you insensitive. (Worse: She can burn the bridge.) You can’t sound like all her frustrations are so trivial that she can drop them just like *that.* Again, refer to #2.

5. Adopt positive traits and a positive attitude.

The more hopeful, understanding, and patient you are, the harder it will be for you to catch the negative vibe. What’s better than that is you’ll be more capable of dealing with your bad days and those of others.

6. Always be aware of how you feel and react to certain situations.

Apart from hanging out with positive people, knowing how you want to and should react in certain moments is a way for you to develop a positive attitude and outlook in life. Be mindful of your actions and reactions, and ask yourself if you like something you’ve done. If you think you could’ve done better, make a mental note in your head about how you should have behaved or how you shouldn't have said what you said. Review it so that you’ll follow through next time.

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