post written by: Angel Chernoff

10 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Negativity


10 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Negativity

There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference.  The little difference is attitude.  The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.

Have you ever met Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy or Pessimistic Patty?  These people can be so entrenched in the bad things that there isn’t any room for good things to grow.  They inhabit our families and social circles.  It can be emotionally draining just being around them, and you must be careful because their attitudes are contagious.  Negativity perpetuates itself, breeds dissatisfaction and clutters the mind.  And when the mind is cluttered with negativity, happiness is much harder to come by.

Here are 10 ways to defend yourself against negativity:

  1. Don’t take other people’s negativity personally.  Most negative people behave negatively not just to you, but to everyone they interact with.  What they say and do is a projection of their own reality – their own attitude.  Even when a situation seems personal – even if someone insults you directly – it oftentimes has nothing to do with you.  Remember, what others say and do, and the opinions they have, are based entirely on their own self-reflection.  Read Learned Optimism.
  2. Spend more time with positive people.  You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  In other words, who you spend your time with has a great impact on the person you eventually become.  If you are around cynical and negative people all the time, you will become cynical and negative.  Does who you are and who you want to be reflect in the company you keep?  Start spending time with nice people who are smart, driven and likeminded.  Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you, people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it.
  3. Be the positivity you want to see in the world.  Lead by example.  You can’t always save the world, but you can make the world a better place by practicing what you preach – by becoming self-aware, tapping into your compassion, and protecting your positive space.  Doing simple things like talking about positive daily events, common friends, hobbies, happy news, make for light conversations with negative people.  Keep the conversations focused on optimistic areas the person can relate to.  You can disarm their negativity, even if it’s just for a little while.
  4. Change the way you think.  The one thing nobody can take away from you is the way you choose to respond to what others say and do.  The problem isn’t the events that are negative.  The problem is the way you react to those events.  The last of your freedoms is to choose your attitude in any given circumstance.  Complaining, blaming and criticizing aren’t going to change the situation.  It is not always easy to find happiness in ourselves, but it is always impossible to find it elsewhere.  Regardless of the situation you face, your attitude is your choice.  Remember, you can’t have a positive life with a negative attitude.  When negativity controls your thoughts, it limits your behavior, actions, and opportunities.  If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would never think another negative thought again.
  5. Focus on solutions.  Negative people have an endless supply of pity party invitations.  Don’t RSVP.  Oftentimes people use negativity as a barrier to protect themselves from the world, which in turn blocks them from solutions that could improve their life.  Instead, identify solutions.  Don’t dwell too much on what went wrong.  Instead, focus on the next positive step.  Spend your energy on moving forward toward a positive resolution.  Remember, when you focus on solutions, by thinking and acting positively, sound becomes music, movement becomes dance, a smile becomes laughter, and life becomes a celebration.  Read Stumbling on Happiness.
  6. Love whoever is around to be loved.  Practice acts of kindness.  It’s a lot harder to be negative when you’re in the presence of love and kindness.  Be that presence whenever possible.  Let your guard down.  Talk to someone you don’t know straight from your heart.  Compliment them.  Don’t anticipate awkwardness.  Just be you in that beautiful way only you know, and give them the chance to smile and connect with you.  Sometimes a kind word and some attention from a friend is all that’s needed to turn a negative attitude around.
  7. Provide support when it makes sense.  Some people complain as a way of crying for help.  They may not be conscious of it though, so their comments come across as negative complaints rather than requests.  Show some concern.  Just a simple “Are you okay?” or “Is there anything I can do to help you?” can do wonders.  Resist the urge to judge or assume.  It’s hard to offer compassion when you assume you have them figured out.  Let them know they are not alone.  People overcome the forces of negative emotions, like anger and hatred, when the counter-forces of love and support are in full effect.
  8. Realize that life is a series of ups and downs.  Acknowledge the negativity, accept it, and let it pass through your consciousness, thereby teaching you a lesson but not ruining your day.  Life is full of highs and lows, but you don’t have to go up and down with them.  We develop from the negatives when we accept them and learn from them.  This cycle is all part of the human experience.  Relax, let go a little, and enjoy the ride.  Read Happiness Is a Serious Problem.
  9. Concentrate on today.  Too often, we carry around things from our past that hurt us – regrets, shame, anger, pain, etc.  Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  Don’t let these negative points from the past rob your present happiness.  You had to live though these things in the past, and although unfortunate, they can’t be changed.  But if the only place they live today is in your mind, then let go, move on, and be happy.  You can decide right now that negative experiences from your past will not predict your future.
  10. Let go and move on when you must.  If all else fails, remove yourself from the wrong situations and relationships. Some people are like dark clouds; when they disappear, it’s a brighter day.  Know when it’s time to let go.  Letting go of negative people doesn’t mean you hate them, it just means that you care about your own wellbeing.  Every time you subtract negative from your life, you make room for more positive.

It isn’t easy to remain positive when negativity surrounds you, but remember that you have full control of your attitude.  Think of it this way: An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship.  Similarly, all the negativity in the world can’t bring you down unless you allow it to get inside your head.  People who are able to discern the positive points in negative situations are the ones who prosper in the long run.  So defend yourself against the ‘negative way’ and make room for a positive day.

Photo by: Bart

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66 Comments

  • Beautiful wisdom. A lot of positive growth areas for me to follow. Thank you.

  • Great article! Practical advice that I needed to hear. The point on positive people is the wake-up call I needed.

  • Angel, I appreciate this article. I need to find more positivity in my life, so this advice is helpful.

  • I love this site. Thanks for all you share.
    I was reminded of a post I shared myself, today…

  • Practicing all these is an adventure for me.

  • Thanks, this is a great piece!

  • Great Article.

  • Great post again ! its good to remember some positive ways of living :)

  • I enjoy reading your words of wisdom. Its amazing how i was just talking about how negative and cruel “FRIENDS” can be…then i turn on my phone and here you are writing about just what i needed to hear!! Thank you!

  • Awesome :)

  • Great post. Any other posts on how to deal with this at work, in particular?

  • This site is magic. I have learnt several ways to tune up my life. Marc and Angel, you guys inspire!

    Este sitio es mágico. He aprendido muchas formas de mejorar mi vida. Marc y Angel, Ustedes inspiran!

  • Bart has done a great job to craft out the amazing photo for this post. I really emjoyed all of 10 steps sepcially 8th one. Thanks.

  • Thank you so much. I really needed this. It’s really hard when the negative person is your spouse and you feel like you’re always trying to help them see the positive and it never helps. In the end, I’m the one that ends up feeling more frustrated because I allow the negativity to bring me down. I need to focus more on how I handle his negativity and less on trying to to help him overcome it. I have to realize that’s not my job. That’s his. My job is my own well-being. Thanks again.

  • Great tips and reminders. I’m always perplexed by #3 and #10 because if positive people are trying to remain positive they should be avoiding negative people. So, in theory, if you’re negative then it may be hard to find positive people that want to be around you. Luckily, people are gracious and caring and if they’re innately positive they may take joy in adding some positivity to another person’s life. Thanks for the great articles!

  • Time to replace negativity with positivity.

  • Great wisdom ! Putting these words into action is the hard part .

  • I am dealing with difficult clients right now and this helped me with my perspective today. You’re right…it’s not just me they behave with the way they do, it’s everyone!

  • Thank you for this post. I needed to hear/read/see #6 today. I stumbled upon this blog quite by accident yesterday and I am so glad that I did.

  • Excellent post! The one that resonates strongest with me is not taking other peoples’ negativity personally. People typically operate from where they are in their lives.

  • These are wise words - great positive life lessons. thank you guys.

  • What an awesome article. I am going to share it with my newsletter readers. We are in control. We should protect our space. Great work.

  • Just Awesome!!

  • great post, as always. @Cheryl- I completely understand as I am homebound most of the time because of illness and my husband is a very negative depressed person- who works from home. It does make it harder to keep positive because they can be such “downers”. I have tried to help him but in the end it is up to him. Some days I am better at shutting out his “bad vibes” - some days not so much. You are right- we have to take care of ourselves and let them handle their issues at some point.

  • reading these really do give you a better understanding of the postive way of living! i love them! :)

  • great article, angel. i especially liked the part about the ship not sinking unless water gets inside. an awesome way of looking at the power of positive thinking.

  • What A True,True Post–Life Is Too valuable And Priceless To Live It In A Negative Mode Plus God Put Us Here To Live Out Our Lives Begin Happy And Helping Others. Thank You Marc And Angel For Sharing Your Kind Words With All Of Us.

  • Great post. I just want share my opinion here.
    I make my life better when I do something for myself.
    I spend my time with positive people.
    I know that life includes ups and downs, so I focus on today to make my life better.
    Thank you for the reminder

  • Angel, thanks for the awesome post and for sharing the positivity around! It’s really good to be reminded.

  • Yes yes yes so many great suggesstions

  • Thanks, I really needed this :)

  • I am so glad I found your blog, what a great way to stay focused and positive.

  • Great read. #6 stood out as simply beautiful.

    And I’m so happy to see you include the advice in #7. Negative people aren’t evil. Often they’re wonderful people who are hurting very badly. I find the common assumption is to avoid ‘negative energy,’ almost as a rule. But by doing this, aren’t we returning the sender’s own negative energy back to them or, at the least, leaving it to stay with them? I believe that if we are mindful, caring, and strong enough, we can acknowledge their reaching out and return positive energy, love, kind words, concern, open ears, etc. Refreshing writeup, thanks for this.

  • Thank you so much for this blog Marc and Angel, you have made such a huge difference in my life with all these inspirational/motivational posts. Whenever I’m going through troubling times, I just come on here, and it brightens up my day. You have helped me through some of the hardest times in my life, I love this blog. Thanks again.

  • Wonderful. I like the idea of not taking any other person’s negativity personally.

  • Great blog!!!

  • Awesome, rightly said.

  • word! to cheryl and melody i feel ya,, i find the serenity prayer helps remind me that sometimes accepting a negative person as they are is all you can do. then it becomes less your ‘problem’
    peace to all - thanks to all who write and share

  • Dear marc&angel,

    Whenever I feel worry, hurt or angry, I will read yr blog over and over again. It really calms me down and automatically I feel relaxed.

    Your blog is amazing!

  • Thanks for this great post. Very inspiring and so true. Take care!

  • Thank you for the sentence: “An entire body of water the size of the Pacific Ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship” It gives me courage to keep my smile when sometimes I find so much pain around me.

  • I enjoy this great post. Thank you.

  • It’s refreshing to spend time on a site that reminds us we are all human without any control over outcomes but with complete control of our decisions. It is not always easy to make the best decision for ourselves but that best decision is the one where we embrace the perfect creation we are in all our imperfection.

  • This piece really resonates with me, especially the part on letting go of negative people doesn’t mean that we hate them, it just means that we care more about our own well being. Sometimes, however hard we try to be nice to some people, they just do not make it easy for us to be friends with them. Instead of harbouring resentment at them and throwing criticisms back, it is better just to stay away and become a happier person and be with people who lift us up, rather than pull us down!

  • Thank you….I also really needed this today!! I have a close friend who is intent on convincing me that my relationship is just like her last failed one. I have been taking this ultra personally and now realize that this is her stuff and not mine. Her negativity and judgement of my situation was making me feel like suddenly my relationship was not a good one. You have helped me to see that my attitude is my choice….not hers. Thank you again : )

  • Thank you-this is awesome and so helpful

  • This lopped off about 30% of my grimacing. Thanks.

  • Great blog post! Love it!

  • Long time ago, I have been looking for somebody to help me be positive with an unpositive person. Accidentally, yesterday night , I read your blog and I love 10 ways you developed to help others to defend themselves against negativity. Now, I found the way!
    Thank you so much for your blog, Marc and Angel!

  • Thank you so much… keep it up you, are doing great job with this site

  • LOVE THIS! And yes I’m shouting it out :)

  • Very well put down in words. To sum it up we all must focus on keeping some positive energy for ourselves. This means that if you feel that your positive energy is low keep it for yourself and then when its recharged give it to someone who needs it . Remember you cannot jump-start a car from a car with a flat battery.

  • I really needed this. Thanks for a well written article.

  • I was full of negative energy and desperately searched the web for a mood boost and came across this article. How wonderful the advice and readings are. It has calmed my mind and changed my bad energy into positive hope. Thank you!

  • So true, it is amazing how like attracts like in this instance. Just have to live in today and not let the past negativity that has been endured live on anymore. Needed that reminder.

  • Great article. Whenever I have negativity going on in my mind I can come back here to your blog and give my mind the tranquility it needs.

  • Thank you for this wonderful article. Sometimes sadness and anger (pain) of what’s happening on this beautiful planet overwhelms me. I get really negative and downand it ruïns my life. I am looking to be free of this for a while now and I’m doing okay. Your article helps me even more, thank you so much, I will print it out and put it on my nightstand :))
    With best wishes from The Netherlands,
    Jennifer

  • Needed to read that. Any additional tips when you are married to pessimistic Patty and leaving is not an option? How best to protect the kids?

  • I live with some of these types of people. You really have to be strategic in order to stay sane.

    But really, be grateful and cherish those who are positive!

  • I asked for help for protecting myself against other peoples negativity…..and there you were. Thank you.

  • Great article. Thanx for everything.

  • Absolutely loved this! Just what I need to help me improve my own choices & attitude for a better quality of life.

  • Pity I was not taught these clear principles from my patents and school teachers. They are absolutely vital.

  • I’m surrounded by negativity (the dark cloud type) at work and it has effected me so much . I needed this article today and will try my best to put it too effect.

  • Woooooooooow what a great read…. was just the inspiration I was looking for .

    Thank you.

  • Thanks so much for this article. I am a perfectionist and I love positive atmosphere. I find it difficult to deal with negative people at work and I get so frustrated at times when I react negatively to negative colleagues. I try to avoid that by all means but some people really antagonise me. I will try my best,going forward to not respond to any negativity!! Sometimes its best to just distant yourself from such people,because no matter how positive and nice you are to them,they always find a way to spoil all of that!

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