How to remain positive in the face of negative people.
I admit it. I am a devoted dreamer, annoyingly optimistic and possess an unrelenting aspiration to make a difference in the world.
To put it simply: I’m a lover, not a fighter.
Despite being a positive person with the goal to inspire others, I sometimes doubt myself because of the negative comments said about me.
“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising, which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
My beloved Emerson was being extremely generous when he called these people “critics”, the vitriol the online public espouses about me is brutal. Just this week, I’ve been told that I suck, have no talent whatsoever and have made people vomit (or want to). They’ve called me a New Age fruit loop, a belly dancing Barbie doll and actually claimed that I have single-handedly destroyed belly dance.
Reading negative comments written online does hurt me, but worse than injuring my feelings, their negativity has caused me to experience uncertainty about my mission in life. I want to empower other women. I desire to make all women—young or old, happy or depressed, rich or poor, heavy or skinny, white or brown—know that they are capable of doing anything. This is my raison d’être, my reason for being. Along this path, I do make a difference in the lives of some women. However, I get not everyone will love me. Certain people just want me to shut up, quit dancing and stop existing—these people are the unknown, faceless haters.
Those previously mentioned are simply the amateurs. Now, bring on the heavy hitters: family, friends and romances. When these loved ones tell me that my blog posts are idiotic, the costume I just designed is ugly, that if I pursue a creative endeavor I will make a total fool of myself or that making a business deal will result in irrefutable failure, mere doubts turn into paralyzing fear. These people have my best interests at heart, or so they tell me. They are not like the faceless online haters that most certainly want to see me fail, but pessimism can create a crack in any dream—no matter who the messenger may be.
Honestly, in the past (and not-so-distant past), these cynical comments and disapproving influences have caused me to want to pull the covers over my head, quit dancing, give up dreaming and stop daring. But I never have and never will, and neither should you.
Because our dreams make a difference and positively making a difference in a single person’s life matters so much more than trying to please negative people—especially if the life you are making a difference in is yours.
I know it’s not easy to take the bitter with the better, so here are some practical tips I’ve learned over the years to remain positive when dealing with negative people:
1. Wait a minute
Sometimes we feel compelled to instantly respond and defend ourselves. I’ve learned that emotionally charged emails never get me the result I want, they only add fuel to the fire. What is helpful, is inserting time to allow ourselves to relax. Writing a fake email is helpful for venting. After I have written the letter, I usually don’t have the desire to respond the same way.
2. Go for a walk
Walk, dance or do some other workout. Physical exercise is the answer to almost any problem. What could possibly bother us if we just danced to the song, “Born to be Wild?”
3. Pour honey
We can get more bees with honey than we can with vinegar. I will compliment the people I come in contact with for being so helpful. I will try to make them laugh and bring some levity to the situation. Positivity is contagious, and with some honey everyone is sweeter.
4. Focus on the positive
It is strange how we can receive 10 compliments, but it’s that one negative comment that we will remember most. We give the negative more power simply by focusing on it. Write down all the compliments you get during the day and post them where you can see them. Do whatever you have to do, but focus only on the positive.
5. Worst case scenario
I often ask myself, “What is the worst case scenario?” I know that the worst-case scenario usually does not occur, but the moment I utter aloud the nastiest situation possible, I remove that deep-rooted fear that I cannot handle the worst possible circumstances.
6. “Does it really matter if I am right?”
Sometimes we respond with the intention of defending ourselves just because we want to be right. In most situations, I know it matters very little whether I am right or not. Choose your battles wisely, is it really worth it?
7. What we feed grows
When I have a problem or a conflict in my life, I can always find someone to gossip with. But, what we feed grows, and it can grow out of control. So unless I am talking about it with the intention of finding a solution, I stop talking or even thinking about it.
No situation is ever lost if we can take away some lesson that will help us grow and become a better person. Regardless of how negative a scenario may appear, there is always a hidden gift in the form of a lesson.
9. Choose to eliminate negative people from your life
Negative people are like vampires. They suck the very life energy out of us. We should do our best to lift them up to our level, but if they are not willing, then we must cut them out by avoiding interactions with them as much as possible. If I absolutely cannot eliminate someone from my life, then I will try to at least keep them at a distance.
10. Surround yourself with people that believe in your dreams
It might be difficult to change the mind of your Aunt Edna or your childhood friends, but the great thing about being a grown-up is we can choose to surround ourselves with whoever we desire. That doesn’t mean our friends can’t ever give us helpful advice or even say “no” from time to time, but ultimately we should know in our hearts that they believe in our dreams.
Trust me when I tell you that the more you choose to live your dreams, be positive and inspire others—the more you will attract the same kindred spirits.
It turns out some of the people we thought were negative to the bone, just needed a little of our own personal brand of joie de vivre to turn their own melancholy into happiness.
There will always be those negative people trying to bring us down, but so what? What are they doing while we are putting our heart and soul out there?
If we stick our heads above the crowd, someone’s bound to throw a tomato. Remember that we have the choice to be surrounded by people who have the qualities we admire: optimistic, positive, peaceful and encouraging people. And whatever you do, don’t stop believing!
Dolphina is a mademoiselle with a mission to make a difference in our world one Goddess at a time. She founded her company, GoddessLife, with this premise, and has guided its growth into an international feminine force. A powerful teacher, dancer, author, activist, and businesswoman, Dolphina has overcome tremendous odds to create a company who’s sole purpose is to support and empower women.
Editor: Maja Despot
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