Make SPARK-ly Steps

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Do you ever find yourself in the company of negative people who seem to never have a nice word for anyone? Do you feel their negativity leaching your own energy and positive mojo? Currently, I am struggling with how to deal with a co-worker who seems to be negative all the time. Everyone around her is “worthless” (including friends, family, coworkers, managers, total strangers…)and anything that contradicts her worldview is “ridiculous” or just “asinine.” She seems to no problem with tearing others down and complains about her life and her family constantly. I’ve asked my manager for advice, but she can’t give me much since she’s not technically doing anything wrong. I hate to sound like I’m complaining about the complainer, but let me tell you a little bit about myself in order to explain why this seems to bother me so much.

For years, I had a very negative attitude about things. I complained about my weight, my job, my money situation, and other aspects. I hated everything, nothing was “fair,” and just felt that life was plain against me. Nothing was my fault; I was just cursed and doomed. Did anything ever get better? Did I miraculously lose weight, get a better job, and just find joy, despite my negativity? Of course not. Nothing ever really got better… I just kept complaining about it while shoving french fries, candy bars, and Diet Coke down my gullet.

It wasn’t until this year when I deliberately made the decision to be more positive and stop complaining about so many things that things have gotten much better. That doesn’t mean that I instantly lost weight or got my dream job or anything (I am still at my same job), but it does mean that because I have chosen to be more positive and to take positive steps in the right direction that things are finally starting to move in more positive directions. I’m not always perfect. I definitely have moments and days when I slide back into this thinking, and I have to work to pull myself back out – it’s a slippery slope, but it’s worth the battle.

REALITY CHECK: you cannot be negative all of the time and expect positive things to happen to you. Your life is not a poorly written novel/short story where things just happen to you, the poor, pitiful, unwitting character – you are responsible for your life and the direction it takes. Do totally unexpected and unfair things happen in life – job losses, death, cancer, accidents, and other things that you can’t control? Absolutely. No one is blaming you for those things, but it is up to you on how you respond and move forward from those events. You can bitch, complain, and be negative about if you want. Go ahead, take a ride on the “Waaaah-mbulance,” but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t take you where you want to go.

Negativity and a negative outlook are kind of like a virus. They spread & multiply to all aspects of your life. It’s very hard to be negative about only one thing and section that off and be positive about everything else. Once you find yourself ridden with negativity, it can be very difficult to root out and change directions. It takes deliberate action to both reverse and deflect negativity. Also, it is contagious – if you are constantly around negative people, you are far more likely to be negative. The same is true if you are constantly negative. You are more likely to infect others with your negativity.

The good news is that positive thinking works almost the same way – once you decide to cut out the negativity and embrace the positive, it will spread to all parts of your life and your interactions with other people. Positivity is more like the warming rays of a sunrise spreading out with warmth and color to other aspects of your life and to how you deal with others. Who knows? Maybe you are meant to be the positive force that helps them pull it together.

This is your story, and you control what path it’s going to follow. Choose to make positive decisions and choose your path. Set goals and decide what steps you need to take (or cut out) in order to reach those goals. Before you start complaining, think about what you can do to either avoid those situations in the future or make those situations better (either right now or if they should reoccur).

Maybe someday, I’ll be able to grow a set and tell this co-worker how her words are affecting me and my own struggle. Thank you for letting me get on my little soap box and blog it out.

Hope that you are having an awesome day!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    The best you can do is find a way to not let her negativity affect you. It's a sign of how miserable SHE is, not you. It's not your job to cheer her up, show her what's positive, or even to tell her to stop being so negative. She won't until she finds that point in herself where she takes responsibility and takes control.

    There are some interesting articles out there on strategies for dealing with negativity from people, such as:

    1) Smiling and remaining detached
    2) When they finish their negative story/tirade, ask them to now tell you a positive one (if they want to insult someone, ask them to compliment someone next)
    3) Imagine a bright white light surrounding you
    3a) On a similar note, mentally "black out" their negative words if you can
    4) "be confident that no one can drain you if you don't cooperate"

    Learn how to find that Spark (hee) of positivity inside yourself and build yourself a cozy mental fire from it. Make it a bonfire if you wish. Glow with that mental imagery no matter what natter they're going on about.

    (And, since this is a work situation, it's also appropriate to always redirect any comments that are not direct answers to a business related inquiry back to the inquiry without even acknowledging the negativity. Example:

    Q: Do you have the report that was due this morning?
    A: I don't have the report you need because other coworker is lazy and slow and the printer is out of ink.
    Q: What do you need from other coworker? When did you ask them for it? Were they aware there was a deadline? Have you checked with them this morning? Has a toner cartridge been requested?

    In other words, the "lazy and slow" is meaningless to the business side, and problems are meant to be solved, so instead of wallowing in their negativity, it is turned right around into - what needs to happen to get it done?
    2963 days ago
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