“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. – Eleanor Roosevelt.
No matter where we live and which strata of society we belong to, one thing is common: we all have to deal with negative people: people who undermine our abilities, negatively criticize us, talk badly about us in our absence or people who are just plain rude to us. If we are not careful, these people have the ability to hurt us and to put a dent in our self-confidence.
Here are a few steps that we can take to overcome these life-suckers in our lives:
1. Let not what they say touch you:
Ok, I know that this is tough, but it is very much possible. For this, you need to create a life of your own, where your work is appreciated and you feel confident. This way, when the negative forces in your life do say something hurtful, that hurtful comment or negativity won’t chip away your self- esteem.
2. Make sure that you do not define yourself by negative comments about you:
For this, it is essential to read about Philosophy and Spirituality, which tell us that the seat of Divinity is in ourselves and that we are neither our mind, nor our body, but our soul. We have to truly experience this by meditating regularly, which obliterates our self-doubt. This way, when someone does say something nastily negative to us, we don’t worry too much about it, because we know that their negativity does not define us and we have our own identity.
3. Create a Life of your Own:
We all have families, friends, relatives, responsibilities, commitments et al. And it is very easy to spend our whole lives completely catering to our responsibilities. But that should not be all. Beyond all these people and your relationships with them, there is you. And your passions. Make sure you give time to at least one hobby/interest of yours. And try to carve a separate, individual identity for yourself apart from all these relationships- either through a job or by working on something that interests you. Then, when someone does say something negative about you, you are independent enough to know for yourself that negative people cannot creep into your “area of independence”.
4. Sometimes, it is a boon to have negative people around us:
Yes, just think about it once. These people offer free advice to you, point out what is wrong with you or with your work and sometimes, it turns out to be true! Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri, the Guru of Swami Paramahamsa Yogananda, the author of the famous “Autobiography of a Yogi”, says that when someone says something negative about you, just think about it once: think if what they are saying is right. If yes, then rectify the error. Otherwise, you just know that what you are doing is right!
5. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them:
Negative people have a negative outlook about THEIR LIVES. And this negativity is spilled over to include other peoples’ lives, their work and the whole wide world. They look at the world with dark colored glasses. And it is THEIR PROBLEM, NOT YOURS, that their attitude is negative. It usually has nothing to do with you. Even if everything is perfect, these people will definitely find something to crib about. Knowing this helps you to not take their comments personally. In fact, you’ll start feeling sorry for them, especially when you notice that they spend their precious time in life talking about you! It’s flattering, isn’t it?
Ok, so now you are at a party or a get-together and you see these Dementors (hee-hee) swooping in on you. What do you do? Here are a few tips:
6. Change the topic:
Yes, it’s as simple as that sometimes. Just start talking about something as inane as the weather or how beautiful someone’s dress is, or how beautiful their own dress is (Ok, I know we hate complimenting these people), but for once, you’ll see that they start minding their own business and start talking about themselves! We have to agree that this is infinitely better than hearing them crib about what’s wrong with our life, for once.
7. Avoid them:
If the negative ninjas in your life are too much of a killjoy for you, try avoiding them. If you are at a party, just say a brief hi and move on. And in general, you could stop taking their calls or limiting the time you speak to them on the phone or otherwise. And yes, we can definitely avoid talking to them about our personal projects.
8. Be frank with them:
If these negative people in your life are being too bothersome and are upset at being ignored, tell them gently that their negative behavior is affecting you and unless they mend their ways, you can’t be friends with them.
9. Talk to someone about this menace:
Now this is what is great about having that one friend or a gang of friends who understands you. Just talk or chat your heart out about these negative experiences and you’ll most often find that your friends also have something like this going on in their lives. And knowing it’s not your fault, they’ll all definitely support you and you’ll end up feeling infinitely better.