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5 Simple Ways to Deal with Negativity (When You Can't Avoid It)


Do you allow negativity to consume you? Do you feel negativity pulls you from all angles and steals your well-being? Whether it’s negative people, stories, or workplaces, we are all exposed to negativity from time to time. Not everyone is susceptible to this contagious infliction. How you deal with negativity is all about mindset. 

It can be challenging to escape the clutches of negativity. But I have faith that you can do it. Let’s face it; it’s either that or accepting a long and painful collapse into the pits of negative despair. Read on if you are ready to dust yourself down and find ways to climb out of your negativity chamber. 

This article will discuss what negativity is and how it impacts you. We will then provide 5 tips on how you can deal with negativity.

What do we mean by negativity?  

When we think of negativity, we think of the following traits; 

  • Low energy. 
  • Lack of enthusiasm. 
  • Pessimism
  • Cynicism. 

Negativity is described here as “a tendency to be downbeat, disagreeable, and skeptical. It’s a pessimistic attitude that always expects the worst. Negative outcomes are bad outcomes, like losing a game, getting a disease, suffering an injury, or getting something stolen.” 

Negativity carries a lackluster atmosphere everywhere it goes. 

Negative people are the source of negativity. They exude negativity into their personal lives and work lives. This idea means that everywhere there are people, there is scope for negativity. Negativity seeps into organizations, the media, communities, and groups. 

Even your workplace can have a negative culture. 

Here are some examples of negativity. 

  • “No one will ever love me.” 
  • “You’re all useless.” 
  • “Nothing will change.” 
  • “It’s not going to work.” 

How did those examples make you feel? Hardly inspiring, are they? It’s all too easy to get sucked into a negativity whirlpool.

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How does negativity affect us? 

We all have moments of feeling frustrated and sad about things. Some situations merit a negative reaction. But for the sake of our well-being, we mustn’t fester in negative atmospheres for too long. 

We can become sucked into a negativity vortex if we aren’t careful. This entrapment can cause us to suffer from a negativity bias, which causes all the negative messages around us to become magnified. We pick out the negative from the positive and focus on the negative. This bias has a detrimental impact on our motivation and ability to complete tasks. 

This negativity bias can have a significant impact on how we:

  • Think. 
  • Respond to others. 
  • Feel within ourselves. 

Furthermore, negativity bias is linked to various mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It also causes us to: 

  • Recall criticisms over compliments. 
  • Respond emotionally rather than objectively. 
  • Ruminate on past events. 
  • Focus on the negative over the positive. 

Lingering on negative comments is enough to drag even the most positively attuned individual down. Ultimately if we allow negativity to take hold of us, it will impact our relationships, personal lives, and work lives. 

5 ways to deal with negativity

Luckily we don’t have to surrender to the onslaught of negativity. We have invisible shields to protect us. We need to learn how and when to use these shields. 

Here are 5 tips to help you deal with negativity. 

1. Limit your exposure 

Take a few minutes to think about the primary sources of negativity in your life. They may be people, social media accounts, news feeds, and other online sources. 

Next, I want you to consider deleting social media accounts that don’t bring you joy. If you don’t feel you can delete them for political reasons, you can always unfollow them depending on the options available on the social media platform. 

Regarding the negative people in your life, it’s time to establish some boundaries.

Limit the time you spend with them. There may be some perpetually negative people in your life who you have no reason to stay in contact with. Beware of these energy vampires. 

Lastly, limit your time on news channels. By all means, stay up to date with current affairs and global news, but don’t let it consume you to the point of rumination. 

2. Avoid fixing the source 

When we spend time with negative people, we can quickly verbalize our frustration with their negativity. All too often, we move to try and fix them by suggesting more positive ideas and outcomes. 

If you have been in this position, you will already know this does not help the situation. It only leads to arguments, hostility, pushback, and eventually, disintegration in the relationship. 

It is not up to you to fix others. You can only control yourself. 

Instead of trying to fix the negativity of other people, spend your time showing empathy and compassion with comments such as: 

  • “That’s a shame.”
  • “That sounds tough.” 
  • “Oh, I hope that doesn’t happen.” 

As you try and argue a more positive stance, you open yourself up for attack. Unless people ask for your help, be slow to provide it. 

3. Counter it  

Let’s face it, we can not avoid negativity in life.

But we can control how we live and how much negativity we allow around us. 

If I know I am due to spend time in a particularly negative environment or with negative people, I arrange to counter this. 

I arrange my diary to help counter the inevitable exposure of negativity. First, I give myself time to decompress by doing things suggested in the next tip. I then counter the negativity by spending time with particularly energizing and positive people.

Or by taking part in an activity that makes me happy

Examples of this look like this: 

  • Meeting a friend for a coffee. 
  • Going to a comedy club. 
  • Doing any form of exercise. 
  • Having a phone chat. 
  • Reading stories on kindness. 
  • Playing with my dog. 
  • Update my gratitude diary.

The ways you counter negativity will likely look different from this, but this is a great place to start. 

4. Don’t let it permeate  

Make sure you seal up the cracks. We must do all we can to stop negativity from seeping in. Picture yourself as a small boat drifting on the sea of negativity. You can co-exist fine. You can bob up and down happily. But you risk sinking as soon as the water starts to get in. 

The tricks I use to avoid negativity penetrating my soul are the same things I do to decompress after exposure to negativity. 

  • Engage in mindfulness
  • Meditate. 
  • Practice yoga. 
  • Listen to music and sing along. 
  • Walk in nature. 
  • Read a book. 

These activities distract me from the negativity and help me keep negativity at bay.

5. Be self-aware

This tip is perhaps the most critical of our suggestions. 

Unless we are aware of the negativity around us, we can not account for it. Listen to the messages your body is sending you.

Telltale signs that you are surrounded with negativity include: 

  • Feeling tense. 
  • Sense of unease. 
  • Drop in energy level both during the exposure and afterward. 
  • Feeling out of sorts. 

Honor your body and listen to these cues. When we work on our self-awareness, we allow ourselves to recognize who and what drags us down and who and what raises us. 

When we are self-aware, we arm ourselves with the tools to protect our psyche from a negativity infestation. 

For instance, if you are becoming more critical or judgemental of others, you’ve allowed negativity to creep in. This judgment is a vital sign that it’s time to engage in self-awareness and recognize the need to expel negative energy sources from your life. 

Be aware of your feelings. Differentiate between your feelings. Do you feel sad, frighted, worried, or angry? These feelings are ok; sit with them. Just don’t let them steer take control of the steering wheel in your brain. If you are in this position, it’s time to revisit tips 3 and 4. 

If you want to learn more about self-awareness, here's our article on how to become more self-aware.

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Wrapping up 

We can not always escape negativity in our lives. But we can control how we respond to it, and thereby disallow it to affect our lives. When we allow negativity to take hold of our lives, we jeopardize our happiness and well-being. I hope by now you know how to effectively deal with negativity.

Do you have any other tips to help deal with negativity? Or do you want to share your experience with negativity in your life? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Ali Hall

Writer

Kindness is my superpower. Dogs and nature are my oxygen. Psychology with Sports science graduate. Scottish born and bred. I’ve worked and traveled all over the world. Find me running long distances on the hills and trails.

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