#28 Overcome Negativity Part 3: Overcome the Negativity of Others
We all get negative from time to time because we lose, make costly choices, or have things taken from us. But, faith, hope, and love help us replace those absences. When faith, hope, and love are absent, we are left with nothing. That nothingness becomes negativity, which is an expression of pessimism or criticism and an attitude of not being hopeful. Negativity is systemic. It spreads quickly and is a challenge to overcome, especially the negativity in others. Overcome Negativity Part 3 explains how to overcome negativity of others so you can maintain your happiness no matter where you are and who you’re with.
Overcome Negativity Part 3 is divided into three sections:
- Section one gives an overview of people who live in negativity.
- Two explains what you need to overcome the negativity of others.
- Three provides example scenarios that show you how to talk and behave to overcome negativity in others.
Before we begin, know the objective. To overcome means to succeed in dealing with something. It doesn’t mean to overtake or change. Therefore, to overcome other people’s negativity is to succeed in making situations with negative people the best possible situations for you and them with the hope they will want to change.
Section 1: Overview
People Who Live in Negativity
People who live in negativity live in a vacuum. Therefore, they take more than they give. As harsh as it sounds, they are thieves, murders, and misers since they steal your peace, kill your joy, and squirrel away their love. However, they aren’t satisfied with their plunder, so they blow it off.
These people try to fill their emptiness with nothing good. Therefore, they are occupied with deficits. They focus on the not’s in life – what they do not want, do not have, cannot do, and how others should not be. They make choices, behave, vote for, relate to, and treat others based on what they don’t like, don’t want, can’t tolerate, and believe isn’t right. I call them “Notters.”
Nothing good comes from choices and behaviors that are based on negativity.
Negative people are at different skill levels. Constant practice makes them masters. They can reach levels where dislike turns into hatred, what they don’t want escalates to violence, and what they can’t tolerate results in personal harm.
Notters fool you into believing they are saviors because their primary focus is themselves and not our real Savior, Jesus Christ. Therefore, they must save themselves. Their “save yourself” attitude keeps them in survival mode, where negative emotions pervade their bodies, minds, and souls. Their negative ways become habits, which become their beliefs and dispositions.
People with negative dispositions have low self-worth. To elevate themselves, they seek people they view as more deficient. If they can’t find any “poor unfortunate souls,” they’ll create them by devaluing people. They’ll take people’s joy, peace, love, freedom, and satisfaction. Therefore, they are more discouraging than encouraging.
Poor unfortunate souls give negative people someone to play with. Depending on what the Notters are in the mood for, they can save, punish, or control their unsuspecting buddies.
Play it Safe
Negative people play it safe. They don’t maintain goodness. So they don’t stand firm in righteousness. They go along with the group that benefits them most or dominate with a force that no one will challenge.
These doom-and-gloomers also play it safe by predicting the worst. They expect the worst, plan for the worst and tell you the worst. Focusing on the worst sets them up to be victims or heroes and allows them always to be right.
Goodness is Fantasy
Goodness is more fantasy than reality for negative people because they base their reality on absences. They see more bad than good and more wrong than right. Life is more difficult for negative people.
Additional traits of negative people
Negative people are also worriers, skeptics, secretive, easily offended, controlling, and drama lovers.
Reasons People are Negative
There is no way to predict how negative someone will be because there are too many variables. Genetics, environment, personality, birth order, mental health, and emotional sensitivity determine a person’s level of negativity and ability to live above their nature.
Reasons people are negative:
- A Godless life.
- You don’t have to be an atheist to have a Godless life. Replacing god with personal desires or pushing God out makes God absent. An absence of God is an absence of truth and love.
- It’s easy because we are born with negative emotions.
- We develop survival instincts before intellect, which makes them more powerful, influential, and natural.
- Unresolved traumatic experiences keep people in survival mode.
- When people have experiences that threaten their existence, they are naturally frightened. If they’re never confident that they’re safe and secure, their alert system never shuts off.
- Anxious parents pass anxiety onto their offspring.
- Over or under indulged children develop a negative reality.
- These children don’t get what they need. Overindulged children get too much of what they want and not what they need, so they value things more than people. Children who didn’t get what they needed or wanted due to abuse or neglect rely on what they already have – their survival instincts, which become a priority for them.
Negative people live in their nature. The apostle Paul calls it “sin nature” because we are quite sinful when we live here. When we are in our nature, our emotions rule. We are greedy, covetous, competitive, impatient, contemptible, immoral, and selfish. To live outside of our nature, we must be more conscious and conscientious.
Section 2: What You Need to Overcome the Negativity of Others
Everyone shares the same kind of nature. Therefore, to overcome negativity in others, you must be aware of your nature and raise your consciousness to a supernatural mindset. You must lift your spirit and lower yourself and your defenses the way Christ humbled himself. Therefore, do not compete with, counter, condemn, or coddle negative people, but demonstrate faith, model hope, and offer love. Have humility and be mindful. You need compassion, strength, courage, commitment, and discipline.
Humility and Fruits of the Spirit
Humility does not mean to concede or lie down and take it. When you have humility, you’re aware of your bad qualities and know that you are not more valuable than any person. You are a willing servant to God and others. Christ-like humility requires enormous strength, courage, and commitment. It’s not for the faint of heart but is for those who have God filled hearts.
When you ask God into your heart, He gives you what you need to overcome negativity. He gives you the Fruits of the Spirit, which include love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (discipline). (Galatians 5:22-23)
To use the Fruits of the Spirit successfully, you must be mindful.
Three Steps to Mindfulness
Don’t be fooled by the sweetness associated with the Fruits of the Spirit. They require power and might to practice. You must defy nature’s gravity and forces to utilize them by being actively aware of your body, thoughts, emotions, and gut feelings – you must be mindful.
When you are mindful, you bring your conscious and subconscious minds together to work in harmony. You must be aware of your body and emotions, but keep them secondary to your thoughts as you consider your gut feelings.
Step One: Physical Awareness
The first part of mindfulness is physical awareness. Pay attention to your body – your breathing, heart rate, and muscle tension.
Negativity affects our bodies. To overcome the negativity of others, you must maintain a physical countenance. Pay attention to your facial expressions, body posture, and breathing when a negative person confronts you. It’s easy to be negative, but positive people are at ease. They are peaceful.
When soldiers are at ease, they are less stiff and ridged. Their bodies are more relaxed and at peace. We are at ease when we are free. Command yourself to stand at ease when you’re with a negative person. Be flexible and peaceful.
Step Two: Thoughtfulness
The second part of mindfulness is the awareness of your thoughts. When a Notter confronts you, think purposefully. Negative people are emotionally charged. They react, which makes you react. Think of responding instead of reacting. Imagine if first responders were first reactors. They would be so emotionally overwhelmed they wouldn’t be able to help anyone.
First responders train to respond and you must also prepare to respond. You already have self-control, aka discipline. You prove it every time you obey a rule. Even if you don’t feel like following the law, you do. What makes you obedient? Thought and reason. Your conscience tells you it is the right thing to do. And your thinking mind reasons out the possible outcomes if you do or don’t obey. Use your discipline to determine how you will respond to negatively reactive people.
Put Yourself in Charge
When you are with a negative person, use discipline to stop and think. Ask yourself, “What do I need to make this the best possible situation?” When you do this, it takes power from the negative person and puts you in charge.
You’ll probably discover you need compassion, patience, love, kindness, and gentleness. God has already given you these, so just exercise them.
Compassion is an awareness of someone’s pain and suffering. Patience means you are calm while you wait. Love and kindness allow you to serve as Christ does. Gentleness does not mean coddling or submitting. It means showing care and respect for others in the way that you act and speak. Keep your tone of voice neutral.
One way to exercise these spiritual gifts is to use reflective listening. When you reflect the person’s emotions back to him/her, it gets the person to think, which diffuses his/her negative emotions. Let’s say someone spoke harshly to you because he was frustrated. You might say something like, “Oh, it sounds like you’re frustrated right now.” Note: Negative people tend to anticipate a gloomy future based on the negatives of the past. Saying “right now” keeps them in the present and reality.
Third Step: Emotional and Instinctual Awareness
The final aspect of mindfulness is to be aware of your emotions and gut instincts. These come from the subconscious mind. We can only access them when we’re calm enough to listen.
The deep emotions and inner voice we hear when we are at peace are wisdom and truth. They lead you to do what is right even though the situation may be wrong for you.
A wrong situation for you might be the right situation for a negative person. Negative people overuse negative words and emotions, so they build up an immunity to the adverse effects. Consequently, they don’t realize how negative they are. Negativity becomes their reality and their reality isn’t truth.
God = Truth
If negative people have a negative reality, it means truth is absent. When there is no truth, there is no God. God’s word is absolute truth. Whether you’re a believer or not, the Bible is the best book on the market. It teaches you how to live well. Read God’s word to keep yourself positive and adherent to the truth.
Truth is goodness. It builds trust and intimacy, promotes healing, binds relationships, and conquers fear. Truth leads to joy, peace, love, freedom, satisfaction, and contentment – happiness.
Pessimists vs. Realists
Negative people limit themselves from experiencing happiness, so they feel bad. Their bad feelings make them more inclined to complain, be cynical, downplay the good things that happen, and predict a gloomy future. Positive people call these folks pessimists, but negative people call themselves realists, which makes sense because their reality is the absence of truth. And, to them, truth is relative, not absolute.
God and truth are absent in people’s lives because of ignorance, insufficient knowledge, laziness, theft, no support, and choice. For many adults, it’s their choice that He is absent.
The Gift of Freewill
Everyone has God’s gift of Freewill. When we live with the Holy Spirit of God, we recognize the unlimited choices we have. We choose how to act, what to believe, what is best, how to think, and how to feel. Negative people are not free. They are confined to nature’s laws, where there are only two choices – eat or be eaten.
Section 2: How to Overcome the Negativity of Others
Compassion and empathy prevent us from catching the bad emotions of fear, anger, contempt, shame, and guilt. They allow us to sympathize and relate to people’s pain and suffering so we don’t feel like we have to fix the person’s problem. When someone complains, you can show compassion and empathy by saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that happened to you.” DO NOT say, “I’m sorry,” because it makes you sound guilty. It provokes an adverse reaction because you must be forgiven or punished. Adding “hear” alerts the person’s subconscious mind to the attention you’re giving him. Therefore, you give the person something before he can take anything away from you.
Hope for the Best, but Expect Nothing
You can never predict how someone will react or reply. Some people don’t even respond well to compliments. Therefore, don’t set yourself up for disappointment by expecting negative people to give you a positive reply. This way, you’re not thrown off balance. You can hope for the best but expect nothing in return. If you get a negative response, rise above it with kindness and honesty. For example, if you give a gift to someone and the person responds, “You shouldn’t have done that,” you can respond with something like, “Hmm. Are you saying I am wrong for doing something good for you?”
Choose to Believe the Best
1 Corinthians explains love. One characteristic of love is to choose to believe the best in others. This one concept will keep you happy no matter who’s with you. It initiates the Fruits of the Spirit.
When you’re with someone who hurts your feelings, you can overcome that negativity by choosing to believe the best. Just thinking something like, “Joe must have had a good reason for saying that” prevents you from getting angry.
When you overcome people’s negativity, you give them more than they have and maybe even deserve. You can’t make them accept what you give them. Regardless, you are doing what is right and just in God’s eyes. You are a good servant to others and faithful to God.
Example 1: Managing Discouraging People
I decided to have a couple dental implants after discussing it with my dentist. I was very excited to share my good news with my friend. After I told her, she replied, “Oh. I know someone who had that done, and he said he’d never do it again. It was one of the most painful experiences he ever had.”
I love my friend but didn’t like what she said. So, I chose to believe the best and thought, “She must have a good reason to tell me that.”
This one thought prevented me from feeling discouraged and disappointed. Then I asked, “How do you think this information helps me?” She chuckled and said, “I’m just saying. It’s painful.” I responded, “Wow! It’s nice to know you care about me enough to warn me of the pain.”
I wish my friend would have shared my enthusiasm. But, I overcame the negativity and maintained my joy and peace.
Example 2: The “But-ters”
When you encounter someone who has nothing positive to say, chances are they’re in a deep deficit. Some people complain but don’t want things to be better. I call them the “But-ters.” These are the complainers who come across as wanting your input and counter every positive suggestion you make with, “but…” They create circular conversations.
Stop the cycle by saying something like, “It sounds like you are miserable, but don’t want to be better because you keep telling me why it won’t get better.”
Example 3: Critics and Judges
It’s difficult to trust people who criticize and judge others. When you hear criticism, don’t be afraid to confront it. Again, using reflective listening, you could say, “Hmm. It sounds like you dislike the way that lady wears her hair.” You can also ask, “Do you assess me that way when you’re with other people?”
Example 4: Relentless Negative Opinions
Some people are relentless in making damaging statements. They discount your opinions, have no regard for your feelings, and no respect for your beliefs. One way to stop it is to remind them that you care about them and see they are fervent in their opinions, but you still don’t agree with them. Let’s say someone continues to deride the political candidate he knows you like. You could respond, “You know I love you, and you know I like Candidate X. If the shoe were on the other foot, know that I would show you love, honor, and respect to not deride the person I know you favor. So, I will no longer continue this conversation.”
If you’ve given your best effort without any relief, you might just have to detach from negative people. As Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”
Be a Light
You can’t get light from the darkness. Therefore, you can’t make negative people positive. But you can show them the benefits of being positive. You can be a light in their darkness that shows them the way.