How To Stay Positive With Negative People

Aging, it seems, brings out the negativity in certain people. We all deal with negative people from time to time during our lives. When we leave the workplace, we at least leave any of the negative types from our work life behind. I’ve recommended putting any other negative types out of your retirement life, but that’s easier said than done.

It’s difficult to expel a parent, long time friend, sibling or the person you’re sleeping with. Depending on how someone views the aging experience, negativity can surface even in those who once lived life with a positive attitude. For example, their world view may become one of calamity today as they long for the good old days. Their perception of the past is one seen through the proverbial rose-colored glasses _ time has muted their memory leaving only the good times. Or, and this is the one, which grates on my nerves, they start mouthing statements such as, “You can’t do that anymore. You’re getting old you know. You have to slow down. You’re not as young as you used to be.” I recently had a young sixty-four year old tell me they couldn’t get out and walk every day because they were old! Arrrrrgh!!!

So, what do you do about the nerve grating negativity? Well, first, take responsibility for your positivity. While the negative person may grate on your nerves, the extent to which you allow that to happen is up to you. Counteract their negative effect by taking steps to increase your positivity. Cultivate your optimism.

Years ago I started keeping a gratitude journal after watching an Oprah show. I first listed all the things _ activities, people, places, ideas _ in my life for which I was thankful. They were as simple as a beautiful sunrise or my garden receiving enough rain. I wrote in the journal each night before going to bed. Not only did it help me sleep better as it gave me a feeling of peace, this ritual added to my optimism each day as I made mental notes of items to write in my journal.

As a former news junkie, I can tell you we are bombarded by the media with negative news. Negative sells! So, another step I took was eliminating the newspaper delivery, thus limiting my exposure to the local murder and mayhem. Then, I limited myself to thirty minutes of TV news, if that, a day. Many days I don’t watch it at all. Very rarely do I miss anything that makes a difference in my life. Getting caught up in the world trauma can create fear-based anxiety. While we want to be informed, we don’t want to be inundated. Fill your brain with positive thoughts, readings and encounters with other optimistic people. Try it. You’ll sleep better for it.

Fear is often the basis for the negative person’s pessimism. Fear about world events, fear about aging and declining abilities, fear surrounding financial independence and on and on. Our very impermanence is unsettling to most. However, a Yale University study found that people with a positive view of aging live an average of 7.5 years longer than people with negative views. Don’t get sucked in by fear. It’s important to hold on to your optimism!

We all have negative events in our lives _ all of us. This last year was a tough one for my family. I experienced more than a few moments of negativity. I’m grateful for the friends and family who listened to my ramblings with patience. Here’s where a little compassion on your part comes in, both for the negative people you encounter as well as yourself.

This past autumn I took a class at the Osher Lifelong Learning Center at Furman University on living compassionately. Our instructor, Sandy Brown, taught us the tenets of loving kindness based on Buddhist philosophy. The thought of showing loving kindness toward someone engaging in negativity appealed to me. The appeal is actually seated in my own selfishness. It helped me let go of my negativity toward negative situations and people. I use the following prayer often, saying it mentally, but sending the thought toward the person who would otherwise be driving me nuts! It prevents me from expressing out loud how their negativity is, yes, grating on my nerves, which would only make the situation with them all the more difficult. And, drag me down into their negative spiral. Saying this simple prayer triggers acceptance of ‘it is what it is’. I’m becoming more patient, an attribute which often eludes me. With patience comes serenity. Try sending this thought yourself:

May you be well;
May you be happy;
May you be peaceful;
May you be loved.

Think of actions you can take in your life to increase your positive attitude in the face of negative people. By cultivating your optimism and practicing positivity, you may very well change the negative person’s outlook on life. If you stay mentally up, refusing to be dragged down into the depths of their despair, they will have their moment to vent, get it off their chest and then, maybe, join you in your positive views. If they don’t, well, at least your efforts will ensure you still have your sanity. You can walk away from the engagement with a smile on your face. No, you can’t put all the negative people out of your life, even in retirement. But, you can preserve your aging experience with optimism.

12 comments on “How To Stay Positive With Negative People

  1. Love your positive attitude. It’s mine too and could not have gone through life without waking up to how I can create a happy, purpose-driven life. I’m a 66 year old cancer survivor who retired 2 years ago and moved to a new area and am enjoying my new life through, joining walking, cooking and adventure groups through Try it, you’ll meet new friends and find new things to do. I also volunteer reading to children, volunteer with cancer patients and work at the local thrift store. Enjoy!


  2. Wow, Kathy, we could be friends! Love your blog, and have found that I have noticed the same types of feelings myself! Doesn’t it just make you want to tear your hair out when friends, siblings tell you what they CAN’T do because of age? I want to scream, “Then find what you CAN do, and do that!” And I, too, watch much less news these days. Love your prayer for negative people…trying that next! Thanks for starting my day right!


  3. Some times it seems a constant barrage against a person that lives positive. But grabbing sources that help ease soul and spirit is a great exercise you want to practice until it becomes habit. Kathy’s blog would be one of those resources that helps any rough path that buckles up life.
    Thanks for posting this regrounding Kathy, it’s a path I have practiced for many years. But we need bolstering up when path buckles and batters without letting up.
    Jeans post it full of inspiration as is your ” How to stay positive with negative people” blog.
    2016 here we come!
    Thanks and bless your paths.


  4. I love this post! It’s my New Years resolution to think positive thoughts and not be dragged down the negativity foxhole! I definitely have a choice and I’ll be practicing choosing joy this year until it’s no longer a choice but a natural reaction. Thank you for this inspiring post…I shared it with my 24 year old daughter…it’s worth practicing at any age!!! Happy New Year!!!


  5. This post reminds me of a favorite writer M.B. Eddy when she writes about fear & thinking: “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.” Thanks for sharing positive ideas.


  6. I am a great believer in having a positive attitude to life and the people in our life. Thanks for the great post and reminder of the benefits of a positive life.


  7. I thought this was a very good piece, Kathy !! It is so easy to lose that positivity if you don’t really watch it because negative people can really drag you down! I try to stay positive but sometimes there are things in life that happen to you that cause you to lose sight of that. I am going to really try hard to stay on the positive side this year ! Keep up the great blogs like this one, Kathy !!


  8. I began this day, my first day of retirement, by reading your blog. I am determined to embark upon this wonderful new phase with a positive and adventurous outlook. I am an artist and finally have the time to draw and paint to my heart’s content! I try to avoid negativity, but there are certain people and situations, so I try to look at them with patience and compassion and then move on. Thank you for your blogs – they are always positive and inspirational!


  9. I enjoy reading your blog and I love this post especially because it is a topic that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I posted on my blog my NOT resolutions and I believe that they are my way of distancing myself from all the negativity around me. Keep it up. You are my inspiration.


  10. I really like this post too, Kathy! Everything you write is so true. I work hard to minimize my time spent with chronically-negative people. The ones who are occasionally negative because of the things happening in their lives don’t bother me too much; it’s the always-negative folks I try to avoid. Of course, we know that into every life a little rain must fall. But I honestly think we can avoid 80-90% of the negativity others wallow in by (a) taking care of our health and (b) cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Thanks for this post.


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