We likely all deal with some degree of negativity around us, but some individuals are surrounded by toxic people who are determined to rip the world into shreds. If you are suffering from having negative people around you and feel weighed down by the discouragement and depression that can accompany such circumstances, for the sake of your mental health, you have to find a way to break free.
Depending on your specific situation, you may simply need to avoid certain individuals for a period of time or you might need to cut those people completely out of your circle of influence. Consider these suggestions and decide what’s right in your situation in order to get your life on track.
1. In a moment of negativity, remove yourself from the bad situation
If your life-long friends are simply acting up this week, cutting ties completely may not be your ideal choice of action, but you still shouldn’t stay in a bad environment. If the group, or even if just a few individuals, are turning a social situation into something negative that makes you feel bad, excuse yourself and leave.
If those who are negative happen to be co-workers, you might not be able to entirely stop communicating with those individuals but you can still minimize contact. If the break room is a place for acerbic gossip, you can go elsewhere to sit for a moment. If the conversation at company parties is never uplifting, perhaps you can skip the evening entirely or just make a quick hello and then leave early before the negativity is fully underway.
If a family member or loved one is on a negative kick as of late and it’s taking its toll on you, perhaps you need to create some temporary space between you two so that you can sort out your thoughts. You may want to voice that you need some alone time and then withdraw to a safe place where you can reset.
2. In a moment of clarity, express your need for positivity in your life
When we’re talking about negative situations that you need to get out of for the sake of your own mental health, the individuals involved may not be in a position during the heat of the moment to really hear you out. After you have left a bad conversation and taken time apart, you may be inclined to contact the friends or co-workers and voice your concerns. If someone who you dearly love is part of the problem, be diplomatic but honest about your need to be around positive people right now who are willing to help build you up. If the person seems genuine in her interest to keep you in her life and to make changes on her end so that you can experience a pleasant atmosphere when together, you may be interested in trying to associate again.
If only one member of a fixed hangout group is supportive of you, you may want to explain to that individual that you appreciate his friendship and are happy to interact on a personal basis but you just don’t feel comfortable being around the whole group anymore. If it works to just associate with that specific person, great. If he thinks you should keep coming along to the social events since he’s now aware of your feelings and will be able to better help steer the group into good territory, you might be willing to give things another try.
Don’t fall victim, though, to insincere promises that things are going to magically change. If you decide to interact again with people who have agreed to stop the negativity but find that the conversation defaults into the same harshness that you previously tried to escape from, you need to leave and you need to avoid putting yourself back into that position again. It may be really hard and you might feel like you’re turning your back on those you love, but you have to take care of yourself first. If you’ve expressed your need for a change but the circumstances are still the same, you gave them a chance and it’s time to move on.
3. Find new friends that are positive and new experiences that are meaningful
To help you not retreat back to spending time with the negative people who are tearing you down, you need to create a new circle of friends that you can rely on. You probably won’t immediately have access to a big group full of supportive, positive and enjoyable individuals to shoot the breeze with, but you can be actively on the lookout for new friendships.
Brainstorm a list of acquaintances and old contacts that might be able to fill the role of a current friend in your life. Maybe you have a cousin that you used to play with when you were little but have lost touch as you two have gotten older so call her up to see how she’s doing. Use tools like Facebook to search for high school classmates and college friends so that you can send out some friendly messages and try to rekindle the positivity between you and them. Even if you can’t find anyone who actually lives close enough to meet up with in person, connecting with friends from the past can still help you avoid wanting to go back to the toxic relationships you need to currently escape from.
Be friendlier to the people you naturally come across in the course of your day. Perhaps you haven’t gotten to know your neighbor yet that just moved in last month and could consider stopping by sometime with a plate of homemade cookies. Or, maybe you never talk to anyone at the gym but could make a point this time around to strike up a conversation. Be open to chatting with everyone you meet, being friendly to the saleswoman at the mall and the security officer at work. Even if you don’t become new BFFs, having simple yet positive exchanges with other people can help lift your spirits.
Sign up for a new class at the local craft store or join the sports team at your work to get yourself out of the house and meeting new people. Take a genuine interest in those you come across and be open to new experiences. If the negative people in your life were long-time friends, it will likely be hard to quickly develop such strong bonds with new people so be patient and welcoming for whatever happy interactions you do have.
Even if you can’t find people who you instantly hit it off with, you can fill your time with meaningful activities that help build you up. Consider volunteering in the community, helping advise a youngster having trouble or visiting with the elderly at a local nursing home. You deserve better than being stuck in toxic relationships with people who don’t care about you so look to the future and build a better life.
How do You deal with negative people?