Whenever I teach brainiacs my tools for higher performance (which is what I do for a living), I get asked this same question. “How do I deal with negative people in my life so they don’t bring me down?”
To be a high performer you must protect your precious energy for the valuable life force that it is.
It’s tough. But you actually can build a force field around you where it’s like you’re Teflon coated and not susceptible to negative Nathaniels.
Speaker Jim Rohn (and other thought leaders) often say that we are the average of the 5 people with whom we spend the most time.
The idea of being careful about the company you keep is not new. Similar advice is found in ancient writings from most cultures. What isn’t really spelled out, is how to drop negative people from your life without feeling like a jerk. Or how not to let them bring you down.
Here’s some extremely helpful insight from legendary Tony Robbins.
If your happiness requires other people to behave the way you want them to behave, then what are the chances you’re going to stay happy in your life? #MEGATRUTH
Protect Your Precious Energy from Negative People
Step 1: You must swallow that bitter reality pill that you cannot control others.
control someone ≠ love someone
Sometimes we feel compelled to help our negative colleagues see things in a more positive light. Which is great if that’s what they want to do.
If you’re a trained therapist, please help everyone you can in your practice. The rest of us do not need to spend our life force bucking up people who are attached to negative behaviors or thought patterns. Unless you’re a psychologist, your support may be encouraging them, or enabling them to stick with what’s comfortable, rather than what’s actually in their best interests (i.e. change).
I dropped such a “friend” years ago. She was always feeling down, disliked her husband, had no job and wasn’t doing much of anything: a prime example of a card-carrying member of what Zig Ziglar called the “Ain’t It Awful Club.” After talking to her, I always felt drained.
I simply stopped taking and returning her phone calls.
Did I feel guilty? A little bit. For a few weeks. But I always remember my favorite light bulb story:
Q. How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. The light bulb can’t be changed unless it wants to change.
That’s true for all of us. Teachers always show up when we’re really ready to learn something. And as any professional educator can attest, teaching people who really don’t want to learn is pretty much a contradiction.
Step 2: Deal with the stress.
Don’t wait for things to get better. Don’t try to eat your troubles away (actually that doesn’t work). Things will get better when you do. Use your tools to manage your energy:
- get more sleep
- go where there is silence
- exercise (walking works for this)
- eat an apple
….you know these things. Implement them. (Tiny turtle steps make an elephant of difference.)
When your mind starts swirling about the negativity….take action in that moment. Leave the room, take a walk, put on your headphones, go to the bathroom and power pose, make a gratitude list. Don’t just sit there!!!!
Develop a conversation exit strategy. Have an action plan for when someone starts whining again. See above. Bonus: you can write out the scenario of when depressing Dana starts on that path again (because it’s a HABIT of hers) what are you going to do. What you do is not change her.
Step 3: Feed your appreciation, not your expectation.
Switch your focus from your expectations and think about what you can appreciate. What are you grateful for? To whom can you whip out a quick email of appreciation? Send a card? Text? Or surprise someone with a phone call.
Interrupt the pattern of negative feelings with proactive appreciation for life, for the Internet, for your mother, Nespresso, Taylor Swift, palm trees or pink flamingos. Break the circuit!
If you’re not sure how…experiment. For your organized types, you can even make a list of “things to do when energy starts downward.”
- Try getting outside and see if you don’t feel better.
- Think of 3 things you’re for which you’re grateful.
- Drink tea.
- Write a thank-you note.
- Leave the office and come back 15 minutes later.
- Ask yourself, “What can I do to feel better right now?”
Disappointments are inevitable. You can’t savor the victory if you haven’t felt the bitter taste of failure. Check that box of yuck and MOVE ON. Plant the idea seed that you will be a better caretaker of your positive energy.
You can so manage your energy level; like everything, it takes practice.
(awesome photo by Henry Hustava)