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How to Not Let People Get to You (and Avoid Negativity)

by Ali

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Unless you live on a desert island, I guarantee you have experienced that deep sense of internal disturbance caused by another person. But does another person cause it, or are we responsible for allowing them to get to us?

We live in a highly polarized world that is brimming full of opinions and egos. We may be able to avoid people who bring us internal discomfort, but we likely can’t escape them altogether. So what can we do to stop people from getting to us? 

This article will outline what it means when people get to us and how this affects us. It will also suggest 5 tips to help you stop people from getting to you.

What does it mean when people get to you?

When people get to us, it isn’t restricted to an outward display of bullying. It can be any number of things including, but not limited to: 

  • Passive aggressive comments.
  • Hostile and argumentative dialogue.  
  • Subtle micro-aggressions. 
  • Being ignored or overlooked. 
  • Being the subject of gossip or betrayal. 

In an expired friendship group, I often felt overlooked and ignored by one person in particular. It was never anything she said but rather what she didn’t say. She would respond to everyone else’s messages in the group chat and never mine. She did not engage with me. This othering made me feel like an outcast and left me excluded and isolated. 

How do we know when other people have got to us? We inadvertently allow them to take up space in our brains, and they leave us feeling frustrated, angry, anxious, or down. 

What is the impact of people getting to you?  

When we allow others to get to us, we experience a dip in our well-being. It can often lead to us disliking them or more extreme feelings such as hatred. 

The Siddhartha Buddha says, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” 

Nothing good will ever come from internalizing other people’s negative comments or hostility toward us. This study outlines that when we encounter social hindrances, we experience negative feelings. 

If we fail to take action to alleviate the impact of others on our psyche, we risk suffering from an array of effects: 

  • Compromised confidence. 
  • Drop in self-esteem. 
  • Feels of inadequacy and unworthiness. 
  • Deep sadness and loneliness. 

Ultimately, our psychological well-being takes a nose dive if we allow people to get to us, and this, in turn, can impact our physical health by increasing our blood pressure and heart rate and disrupting our sleep patterns. If left unchecked, it can become a vicious cycle.

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5 ways to stop people from getting to you 

You can’t control what other people say or do, but you can control how you respond to them. But that said, you are not here to be someone’s punching bag. Are you ready to learn to advocate for yourself to stop people from getting to you? 

Here are our five tips for stopping people from getting to you. 

1. Delete, block, unfollow, and mute  

Our social connections are complex as they spill over into the online world. In the ideal world, we would simply delete anyone online who rubs us up the wrong way or brings friction into our lives. But social media can be political; we all have social media connections which feel more like an obligation than a choice. This situation is where the other options come in handy.

Use the mute button if you can’t delete someone on your socials.

I have a working relationship with someone who gets under my skin. In this circumstance, I don’t think it is appropriate to unfollow them on socials, but I can mute them. Muting them means their posts don’t come up and immediately irks me. 

Manage your social media so you see more people and accounts that bring you joy and feel-good vibes and less of people and accounts that cause internal discomfort. 

2. The right and wrong binary   

Friction may occur when we disagree with the opinions of another or they vehemently disagree with us. First, in these situations, take a moment to breathe and accept that everyone is entitled to an opinion. 

Sometimes we feel attacked for our beliefs or thoughts. But if we treat this as a learning opportunity and explore why someone feels a certain way instead of pushing ideas onto them, we may give rise to a healthier discussion. 

  • “That’s an interesting perspective; what makes you think that?” 
  • “Tell more about how you came to this position?” 

Be careful you don’t fall into the trap of trying to make others wrong while simultaneously labeling yourself as right. If you eradicate the notion of wrong and right from your mind, you are more likely to be open in conversations and less likely to feel agitated by the other person. 

3. Choose your battles  

Sometimes we need to agree to disagree. Or, we may be best-avoiding topics that invoke passionate responses. This tact usually works in many areas of our life. But what happens when people close to us have polarized opinions on important topics? 

When parents don’t square with the sexual identity or orientation, political leanings, or religious beliefs of their children, it can lead to arguments at best and estrangement at worst. 

I have a transgender nephew and an extremely conservative father who does not support my nephew (his grandson) in any way. While I want to advocate for my nephew, I know my father is not curious or open to discussion. It is his way or the highway. And so this topic remains one of many that is left unsaid between us. If I thought for one minute that this conversation would do any good, I would have it. Yet, previous experience cautions me to stay clear. 

As it stands, I am a whisker away from no contact with my father. This reference leads me nicely to the fourth tip. 

4. Consider going no contact  

A significant trick of mastering how to stop other people from getting to you is learning when to reply and engage in conversation and when to walk away. 

Walking away can be metaphorical, or it can be literal. 

In the UK alone, 1 in 5 families are affected by estrangement. Deciding to go no contact with a family member is not an easy decision; it requires enormous self-reflection and courage, and it is not a decision that is ever made easily.

And yet, it is still stigmatized and entrenched in shame.

This article lists some of the most common causes of estrangement.

  • Abuse.
  • Neglect.
  • Betrayal.
  • Bullying.
  • Unaddressed mental illness.
  • A lack of support.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Destructive behavior.

Estrangement doesn’t need to be a permanent state; the average period of estrangement lasts for nine years. If you struggle in an unhealthy relationship with a family member, your mental and physical health may suffer. As a result, going with no contact may be a final resort. 

5. It’s not about you 

It’s easy to internalize something said or done by someone else. But often, it isn’t even about us.

The thing is, hurt people hurt people. If we remember that everyone is an iceberg and we only ever see the tip of them, we are more likely to show them compassion and allow for their irksome behavior. I appreciate this is not easy to do, especially in the heat of the moment, but this will become easier with time. 

I used to work with someone I found hostile, unfriendly, and unsupportive. Once I realized her demeanor was not personal to me, I learned to accept her ways, which meant her idiosyncrasies no longer landed on me with spikes and teeth. Instead, they slid off my shoulders like a child on a slide. 

Accepting that her behavior was not personal meant I no longer dwelled on it. 

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Wrapping up 

We are all different, and in this highly complicated and polarized world, we will come into regular contact with people who grate on us. Sometimes we can avoid these people, but other times we may be forced to have contact with them. 

Our top five tips for how to stop people from getting to you will help you navigate these challenging encounters. 

  • Delete, block, unfollow, and mute. 
  • The right and the wrong binary. 
  • Choose your battles. 
  • Consider going no contact? 
  • It’s not about you. 

We would love to hear your own tried and tested tips for how to keep people from getting to you. Get in touch with us in the comment section below!

Ali Hall AuthorLinkedIn Logo

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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