Q: You know how when something good happens, you usually want to share the news with your best friend? And they say something like, "Uy, congratulations!!" I've noticed that whenever I do this, hindi ganito yung reaction ng kaibigan ko. Actually, minsan, medyo negative pa siya. When I got promoted, instead of congratulating me, she said, 'Naku, worth it ba 'yan? Dagdag trabaho pa.' Or when I told her about my new favorite show, she said na masyadong nang na-hype. She's not wrong about these things, pero sometimes talaga, I just want her to say something positive naman about my interests or accomplishments. Normal ba 'to?
It's understandable that you're frustrated when someone doesn't respond the way you expect or would like them to—especially if it's over a topic or event you're extremely excited about. But an important thing to keep in mind is that your friend might not even know she's being "negative". In fact, there's a chance she thinks her responses are coming from a place of love.
How to deal with an overly negative friend
In an interview with Cosmopolitan, Sheila Tan, a meta coach and neuro-semantics trainer, explained two concepts: matching and mismatching. She explains, "'Matching' is when a person tends to look for what's similar. So if you say, 'I went to the U.S.,' this person will say, 'Oh, I went there, too,' or 'That's my dream!' And then there are people who would mismatch naturally, and mismatching is looking for what's wrong or different."
This doesn't reveal anything about their intention. However, "a lot of people are well-intentioned, who have a good heart and want the best for us; it just doesn't come across that way because of how they speak." For example, if you say, "Yes! I got it!" Someone could respond with, "Are you sure you did everything, right?" And they could be doing that with the best of intentions.
The key is to communicate your concern. Sheila advises going with, "'Do you realize that you tend to negate what I say or what people say?' Or if you could say it in the immediate instance that they say it, you could go, '[You negated the past four sentences I said.] Do you realize that you do that? I know that you love me with all your heart, but this is how it affects me. It makes me feel like I'm always wrong. It makes me feel like you don't celebrate my successes.'"
Sheila mentions that people who mismatch often do it to themselves. They contradict or second guess themselves, and in some ways, they get in the way of their own creativity: "And when they do it to us, sometimes it's almost as if it's an expression of love for them because that's how they treat themselves." Bringing it up can benefit both you and your friend. It'll encourage her to reassess her language patterns and encourage her to pause and think before she responds to you.
Even if your friend is set in her ways or "that's just how she is," remember that thinking and language patterns can still be changed. According to Sheila, "we can choose that in every moment. 'Do I look at the good side or the bad side?' And then it becomes a pattern or what we call a 'programming.' Once we're aware it, then we can have a choice on whether we want to stick to how we think or if we wanna change it..."
Learn more about how to deal with an overly negative friend by watching the video below.
Sheila Tan is a meta coach and neuro-semantics trainer. She is also the president of Altius Coaching and Consulting. Sheila co-founded Flourish Circle, a community-based solution for mental health. Her advocacies include HIV awareness, women empowerment, and mental health. You can contact her through Altius Coaching's website, Facebook, or Instagram.
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