Negativity is contagious. Hang around it too long and you’re almost certain to catch it. But what can you do when the negative person is your spouse? Or parent? Or coworker? There are certain people in your life with whom you’ll spend loads of time, whether you want to or not. Want to know how to stay positive when surrounded by negativity? It’s really not that complicated.
Be Mindful of Each Day’s Activities
- Start every day off on the right foot. Your first thoughts every morning will set the tone for the rest of your day. So start off on a positive foot! Daily positive affirmations may sound corny, but there’s legitimate science behind them! The idea is that the more you think a specific thought (and especially if you say it out loud), the more likely your brain is to default to that thought in the future. You’re literally rewiring your thought patterns by deepening the neural pathways to those thoughts and mindset. So start every day with positive affirmations, like, “I experience peace and joy daily, regardless of my circumstances,” or “I’m excellent at finding solutions to every challenge,” or even “I live in the present, and am confident in my future.” Those thoughts will still be echoing through your head when you’re interacting with negative people later in the day.
- Engage in positive activities every day. If you only ever go to work, return home, and watch tv, chances are good you’re missing out on some opportunities to fill your cup. Try turning off your screens for an hour each day, reading a book, taking a walk around the neighborhood, or inviting family and friends over for coffee or even a game night. These activities will help you to keep an open and active mind, and to more powerfully resist negative influences.
Limit Time With Negative People
- Don’t log unnecessary time with negative people. Sure, you can’t help the fact that you have to spend eight hours a day with your coworker who finds fault in everything and everyone. But you can politely decline their invitation to join them for lunch or happy hour. The less time you spend with them, the less time they have to drag you down into their hole.
- Surround yourself with positive influences as often as possible. The more time you spend around negative influences, the harder you’ll have to work to proactively seek out and log time with positive people. They’ll help to counteract the influence of negative people, making it much easier for you to maintain a healthy, balanced mindset. So be purposeful as you chose with whom you spend your time.
Redirect Negative Conversations
- Don’t stoke the fire. Now this step requires a little finesse. Most negative stories will drag on as long as you continue responding with statements like, “That really is awful,” or “I can’t believe she did that.” Your agreement feeds into the story and encourages additional detail. However taking the opposite approach, responding with a “hmm” and then completely changing topics, will likely be perceived as uncaring or even rude. I’ve found the perfect balance is to acknowledge their statement, then politely and positively shift the conversation. “Ugh, I hate when siblings pry! I was sort of bracing myself for that when I visited my sister last month, but was pleasantly surprised! We went to the best restaurant…” Politely shift like this enough and your negative friend will quickly learn you’re not their best option for a venting session.
- Focus on the positives. Another way to combat their negativity is to focus on the positives in their story. If they’re in a fender bender, emphasize that you’re so glad they weren’t hurt. If they’re sick, express your gratitude that they caught a cold, but dodged the flu that’s been going around. This technique might annoy them, but sends the same message as the last – you’re not the right person for their complaints, gossip, or other negative banter.
- Remember that your positivity can be just as exhausting and influential as their negativity. I read an interesting verse in the Bible a few months ago. God assigned Ezekiel to deliver a message to, essentially, a bunch of complainers. And what God told him in Ezekiel 3:8-9 really struck me, “But I’ll make you as hard in your way as they are in theirs. I’ll make your face as hard as rock, harder than granite. Don’t let them intimidate you” (MSG). I sometimes feel so burdened and intimidated by the words of others that I forget my own influence. Your coworker might be dead set in her negative mindset. But you, friend? You can be even more dead set in your positive mindset. You might just be wearing her down every day with your constant focus on the bright side. So set your face like granite, friend! You can influence others as powerfully as anyone!
Counteract Negative Thoughts
- Overcompensate for negative thoughts. I once read about a technique utilized by FBI agents to overcome a negativity bias. They encounter death and other dark circumstances on a near-daily basis, and so learn to come up with five positive thoughts to counter every one negative thought. They allow each positive thought to sit with them for 20 seconds before thinking of and sitting with the next positive thought. Agents learn to acknowledge “bad” emotions, label them for what they truly are, and then move forward. Because the truth is that the more you engage with a negative thought, the more power you provide it.
How to Stay Positive When Surrounded By Negative Minds
And there you have it – how to stay positive when you’re surrounded by negative minds. By being more mindful of each day’s activities and thoughts, limiting time with negative people, and redirecting pessimistic conversations, you can shine bright in the darkest night.
Have any secrets on how to stay positive when surrounded by negative people? Be sure to sound off in the comments!
P.S. Like what you heard about positive affirmations? Then be sure to download your free workbook of 70 daily positive affirmations here!
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