finding light in the darkness
how to create a strong bond with the one you love

6 tips for staying positive around negativity

Last week, a Positively Present reader came to me with some questions that inspired me to write this post. When I received her questions, it dawned on me that she was touching on a very important issue when it comes to being positive: how to deal with the negative people we can't 100% separate ourselves from. Most of us, no matter how positive or present we want to be, have people in our lives that just don't want to do that and can often drag us down. This particular reader is dealing with just that type of situation when she wrote to me (paraphrased from her email): 


You mention getting rid of negativity in your life, including people.  How do you deal with this issue, if that person is a family member or someone you will always have in your life? Have you ever felt like this with someone?  Any advice on how I can move forward on this?  Any posts on your site that may help me cope with this situation?


When I received her email I knew I had a lot to say on the topic and realized what a great post this would be. This is an issue a lot of people face when they are trying to make their lives more positive and, to be honest, it's something I've faced too. It can be very, very difficult to cut close friends or family members completely out of your life even if they are extremely toxic, filling your space with negativity. Here are some tips for coping with negative people in your life that, much as you might like to, you cannot avoid. 


How to Be Positive When Dealing with Negative People


  • Remember: you can control how you feel. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." I use that quote when I'm around people who make me feel negative or upset and I change it around a little bit to say, "No one can make me feel [angry/negative/upset/etc.] without my consent." It can be so hard to realize this in the heat of an unpleasant encounter, but we always, always have the option to choose the mindset we want to have. No matter what other people say or do or even how they try to make us feel, we have the power to choose the way we look at situations and, importantly, how we react to them.

  • Value your own thoughts and emotions. The more you value yourself, your thoughts, and emotions, the less someone else can control and manipulate you to feel a certain way. Personally, the older I get and the more I learn about life and myself, the more confident I feel and the less I'm worried about what other people say/do/think. Yes, to some extent I care, but I try to focus on the opinions, words, and actions of those who have a positive effect on my life and worry little about those who bring negativity into my life.

  • Limit your interactions when possible. You have to do what you can to limit your interactions with the people that don't bring you happiness and positivity. Often there are events and functions you don't have to attend and you should avoid those when possible (but don't let those situations create battles between you and your other friends/family's essential to be aware of others' feelings too). If there are things you absolutely can't get out of, you have to go into them with a positive attitude. 

  • Worry only about yourself and what you're doing. When it comes down to it, the only person you have to worry about is YOU. You don't have to worry about what negative people say/think/do. You have to be happy with yourself and you cannot waste time worrying about them or letting them bring you down. No matter how much you might care about the other people in your life, the only person you can really control is yourself so, when faced with negative people, focus on what you can do to make your experience better. You cannot worry about them because, no matter how much you might want to, you might not be able to change their attitudes. Instead, focus on yourself. 

  • Make the choice to be positive. Hard as it is sometimes, positivity is always an option. You can choose to let others bring you down or you can choose to bring yourself up. Every time you are with a negative person, you have the choice to view him/her in a positive light. It won't be easy, but it's always an option. The more I practice being positive on a daily basis and make it an active choice in my life, the easier I find that it is to cope with negative people and situations. I find myself much more willing to be positive in spite of others' negativity -- and you can do that too! 

  • Talk to an objective party. If you're seriously struggling with a situation in which someone's negativity is bringing you down, I'd highly recommend talking to a therapist (or, if that's not an option, a close friend that's removed from the situation). Being able to express yourself to a third party is really crucial in this situation because you don't want to take your feelings out on the negative person or others around you. Seeing a therapist has really helped me to deal with some of the people and issues in my life that I can't completely eliminate.


As anyone who has been in a situation where they are positive and others are negative knows, it can be very hard not to be dragged down into the pool of negativity. But, with the tips I've listed here, you should be able to tackle negative situations and people with a solid set of tools that will help you cope. And If those tips and tricks don't help you, here are some blog posts that might help you cope with negative people that you just can't eliminate from your life:


How To Be A Lion: 7 Steps for Asserting Yourself Positively 

Are the People in Your Life Positive?

Stop Judging: 4 Reasons, 5 Things, 6 Ways

The Emotional Effect: How to Deal with Others' Negativity

How to Break Barriers & Create Connections


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I have to deal with this a lot, but in my case the thing that drag me down is that I "have" to worry about those people, it's exactly the fact that they need to be helped and in every case I know that the situation will made me worry for them staying so bad, and it is what makes me suffer.

I refer to people in my life that I can't leave behind, like my mother for example, and I don't want to leave behind, because nobody is only one thing, I mean, they could be so negative and unreasonable, but I can't forget all the good! they are some of the most important people in my life, and I prefer 1000 times to have to deal with hard times than throw away all the love and the good things that there are between us!

I think that the thing of letting go negative people is ok only for friends that have changed, or people you had misjudged, or for really extreme cases

well, that's only my opinion, because I live that matter in this way... but I am still not able to deal with the hard times.
for sure I will not let go, I will try to change myself in better, so I will even be more helpful not only to myself but even to them

(as always, I hope that I could explain myself)


This is such a necessary post since it's a common challenge everyone faces. :)
Although I disagree that we should "worry" about ourselves at all-- worrying is another negative thought/emotion, after all ;)

Great posts!!! I find this a daily challenge really in the work environment. I won't get into that much b/c ...well my comments would end up longer than your post. I find I do try to practice a lot of what you have here in regards to that.

I have to say to Sui's comment about worry being a negative thought/emotion...I respectfully disagree with you, I don't take that point that way at all. I respect your opinion, but here's my take on it. "Worry about only about yourself" and as some say "worry about your own backyard" - basically means...mind your business and only business that concerns you. Yes, worry can be a negative thing if you are constantly worrying about something you can't change and that clearly controls what you are doing (I'm also a practicer of worrying about something till I'm done worrying about it too - can't ignore everything it will only resurface later). However, "worrying" about you and your business or your own life in a positive direction is pretty much what everyone does or should do every day anyway. I guess you can replace worry with...a positive word but that point would still mean the same - to me anyway.

It is true that the older you get..or rather the more you learn about yourself, the less you care what other people think about what you do, how you do it or their opinions about you that really serve you no purpose. Of course not all things will be roses. Sometimes you do need to hear a criticism you may not like about yourself...but that all depends on the person that's coming from and if their intenion is true. I've cut family out of my life that when I had no choice...I had to take their abuse and treatment of me. The minute I was able to decide for myself (years ago at 15 w/ some) how much I wanted to interact with them, I didn't. And as the years have gone on...(15+ more) they are right where they need to be...away from me with no interaction from me that is in my control. With some it took a little longer to stand up for myself and tell them what I thought and draw the line with them. Intersting thing is...some didn't believe the line I drew...until it was showed with my actions. Definitely agree with the therapist suggestion impartial party can really help with a lot of personal breakthroughs.

I've learned to be sure to live for me FIRST! Doesn't mean I don't have compassion and care for others....but I need to be first in my line of caring for that too.

Sorry for the long comment...I was trying to condense some of my thoughts but even this doesn't cover all of what I really feel on this..but I'm trying to stay in the positive. =)

Sara - It sounds like you really understand what I'm trying to get at in this post. There are so many times when there are people we cannot let go of (or don't want to let go of), no matter how negative they might be. This means we have to come up with ways to deal with the negative people in our lives without getting rid of them (and without letting them bring us down). I hope the advice in this post helped you to see that it's possible to have negative people in our lives without having to be affected by their negativity on a regular basis.

Sui - I'm so glad you found this to be an important post. I agree that so many people are faced with this situation so I thought it would be a very relevant piece for almost anyone to read. I'm glad the question was raised so I could address this important issue.

Saggleo - It's so true that many people struggle with this in relation to their coworkers. It can be very difficult to work beside people who don't share a positive outlook on life. You've brought up a good point about Sui's point...but I think maybe the word "worry" is the problem there. Worrying, yes, is a negative term, and a better word might have been "Focus on yourself." And I also agree with what you've written about criticism. We all need it in our lives to some degree, but it's a very different aspect of life than negativity. Criticism is something that, if given in the right way, can help us grow, while negativity does nothing but bring us down. I really appreciate the comment... You might think it was lengthy, but it's great to get such thorough and interesting feedback from readers like you so thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Whew...I'm glad you got what I meant in my's a manic Monday so my thoughts are all over the place. Focus (see you are good with words!)....yes, I like that word much better...that was my take on that point in your post.

I try to do the best I can in dealing with others negativity...and that's really the only control I to do my best and what makes me happy. It's not always easy (and always a learning process)...but I've definitely gotten better over the years I've noticed.

Thanks again!

Surely we have all experienced that one person who is negative, and seems to drain the energy out of you as soon as you talk to them.
I really like your ideas for dealing with this.
I also think it is important to 'switch off'. As soon as you leave the company of that person, take a deep breathe, re-energise and carry on with a positive day, forgetting about the interaction. It is all too easy to dwell on them, and that seems to pull you down even further.

Saggleo - As you said, it can be difficult to deal with others' negativity, but it's a work in progress and we are always learning new ways to cope with others. The best we can do is work on our reactions and try to make the most of our own situations.

Kate - Yes, those people certainly can be energy vampires, draining energy and positivity. I'm so glad you found these ideas useful and I really like the point you brought up about "switching off." Sometimes you have to tune out a big, take a deep breathe, and regain your own positive center after dealing with someone who is extremely negative. Great advice about not dwelling on the negativity!

When I am around the negative type I like to make silly faces at them in my head. I kind of like thinking it makes the grumpy face in their heads smile back. Yes, I am an odd girl but, a happy one. *lol*

CC - I love that idea! Next time I encounter a grumpy person, I'm going to try that out. :)

As long as I keep the focus on myself and not obsess over what another is doing then I do well. I think the concept of the energy vampire is a good one. There are those who are wired for negativity about everything. But I can often be so optimistic that I need to be brought down to earth. Balance in all things helps.

The comments to this entry are closed.