5 Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity

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Whether it’s your mom complimenting how you handled your two-year-old’s latest meltdown or a friend who notices how much weight you’ve lost, we all appreciate the occasional recognition of our efforts. Unfortunately, not everyone is going to pat you on the back on your journey to weight loss. There are times when comments hurt instead of help (whether intentionally or not), and how you react to criticism is key in maintaining your healthy life choices. Instead of burying your face in a pint of ice cream or letting those moments sap your motivation, embrace these five positive ways to handle negativity without missing a step.

Take charge of your reaction. It is hard to avoid blaming others when their negativity affects you. However, if the actions of others have an impact on how you are feeling or what you are doing, it’s likely because you are letting it. While you can’t control what someone else says, you can control your reaction. Negative comments can arise for a number of reasons--perhaps they are having problems in their own life and inadvertently took it out on you, they thought the comment would be helpful instead of hurtful or you simply took it in a way they did not intend. Even if the comment was mean-spirited, use the moment as a chance to refocus and commit to proving your critics wrong. Deep down, you know you can be successful and do anything you set your mind to.

Appreciate that this person has concern for you. Rather than immediately being offended, consider the intent of the comment. For example, a friend asks why you haven’t been exercising lately. Your first reaction might be to assume he or she thinks you are lazy, but perhaps he or she is asking out of concern for your health or your stress level and just wants to be sure you are okay. Take a deep breath and think before responding too quickly.

For every negative comment, make an effort to spread positivity. No one enjoys hearing something critical, so turn it around. Use moments of negativity as an opportunity to make someone else happy. If a co-worker criticizes your weight, make a point to tell another co-worker how nice they look today. Positive energy not only helps you feel better and allows you to brush off the negativity, but it might also make someone else’s day a little brighter.

Become a source of support for a negative person. Resist the urge to judge others and instead, ask if he or she is feeling okay or if anything is bothering them. If something is going on in their life and talking about the problem helps, you might play a part in stopping their cycle of negativity. Asking how a person is doing also helps you gain a better understanding of where he or she is coming from and why negative thoughts are a problem.

Reflect on what you are getting out of this negative relationship. If someone is constantly criticizing how you look, what you do or what you say, talk about how their words are affecting your life. If nothing changes, it might be time to walk away. At the very least, temporarily distancing yourself from this person will give you time to decide if the relationship is worth continuing. Walking away doesn’t mean you hate them, but rather that you care enough about your own well-being to put your needs first.     
It’s tough to keep a sunny disposition when you are surrounded by negativity. Keep in mind that you control your attitude and your outlook on life. Make the necessary changes in your life to create a more positive environment, and learn to take criticism lightly. At the end of the day, you will be happier, healthier and better off for the positive choices you are making.
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Member Comments

Great starting place, but remember there ARE toxic relationships you have to walk away from. For more minor stuff, I try to find some humor if possible, or acceptance if not. "Bless your heart!" comes to mind here! LOL Report
Great tips! Thanks! Report
I belong to another program and I've learned to put up boundaries and no one is allowed to cross it. Some criticism does cut deep and I've learned to discuss it with somebody not involved in the issue. Report
Great tips! Report
Thank you for the ideas. Report
Hm I guess I'm the only one who didn't find this article that helpful. Often the people who give hurtful criticism is doing it because they are bullies. Laughing at their comment and walking away is far better than trying to sit around and deal with them, especially if this is the way they interact with you on a daily basis. JMO. Report
Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Report
Awesome stuff! Report
Excellent advice, thanks for sharing. Report
Excellent advice, thanks for sharing. Report
Excellent advice! I really needed and appreciate this today.

It reminded me that if I stand my ground long enough and don't let the negativity change the new good habits I am employing, eventually they come around or, at least, give up. Report
It's really hard to separate negative people from us. Report
Thanks. I had to move due to my father. Report
Thank you so much for this article. I really needed it today. My MIL just told my DH on the phone that she wished her DH was dead so he wouldn't be so much trouble. That's a heavy dose of negativity. We moved away and have distance. It was the only way that I could handle such a toxic relationship. Your advice to leave distance eases my guilt a little by staying away as much as possible. Many thanks. Report
Love this article! Thank you! Report


About The Author

Jen Mueller
Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist, behavior change specialist and functional training specialist. She is also a RRCA-certified running coach. See all of Jen's articles.