We’ve all experienced the side effects of dealing with negative people.
They get us down, stress us out, and affect our mental perceptions.
Negativity is contagious. And it requires a great deal of awareness to avoid becoming entangled in it.
Negativity is intense because those who possess it tend toward being “intense people.” Negative people dampen the spirit of almost everything. Although they don’t willingly spread their negativity, they make it difficult for people around them not to absorb it.
The two solutions we’ve always employed have been staying away from negative people or attempting to change them.
Based on my own experience, I’ve come to realize there’s a third solution which requires neither running away or beating our heads against a wall.
It took me a long time to learn that dealing with negative people can become our ultimate spiritual practice.
In the past, I would avoid being around any person who emits negativity. However, it became unreasonable to keep a distance with negative people who were family members, close friends, or work colleagues.
I’ve done the following to transform my interactions with negative people:
>> Transform them into your teachers.
Although negative people might seem toxic, they are teachers in disguise. Sometimes, we learn a new lesson through understanding its opposite. Through acknowledging the negativity, we can cultivate our own positivity.
I watch how negative people act and make sure not to employ their methods in my own daily life. They teach me how I want to be in this life.
>> Practice non-judgment.
It has become common to jump on the judgment bandwagon. The reason is because it’s easy to draw assumptions about other people and it simply doesn’t cost a thing. It takes practice and time to become non-judgmental.
Since we are prone to judge why people are negative, being in their presence can help train us to refrain from judging. We can learn to be with them in the present moment instead of wandering away with our preconceptions about them.
>> Test your spiritual resilience.
How far have you progressed on the spiritual path? If you’d like to know whether your beliefs match your experiences, be around negative people. In other words, the less negative people affect you, the more spiritual resilience you possess.
Make negative people your new challenge, as sitting with them will help you become more self-aware when it comes to your own behavior patterns.
>> A chance to be kind.
I’m convinced that kindness is our individual purpose on the planet. It feels good to help people who are in need, and whether we recognize it or not, people who run on negativity will still appreciate displays of kindness. Merely listening to them and being there for them helps them more than we can ever imagine.
They teach us through their negativity how to be positive. We teach them the positivity they have indirectly inflicted on us.
>> Act but don’t react.
We are accustomed to reacting instead of acting. Reactions range from losing our temper to storming out of the room. To act instead of react is crucial for our emotional health. When we’re surrounded with negative people, we tend to react due to the negativity that we absorb.
Once again, it’s our chance to practice taking action instead of internally reacting and ravaging our inner peace. Action could take on many forms. Acknowledge when you feel like reacting, and instead replace it with any action mentioned above.
Most importantly, remember that we decide whether we absorb negativity or not. If there’s still a place for negativity in your life, you’re an easy target for negative people.
You are the maker of your own shield against negativity—build it well.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Image: Naomi August/Unsplash
Editor: Caitlin Oriel