Since starting this journey I’ve realized that I tend to focus on others instead of myself. Previously I have talked about the fact that I react negatively to others when I should take a deep breath and react in a positive way. If that person responds positively to my positivity then clearly I was the issue. Not letting others negativity get you down is very similar. If someone is ranting negatively about something, remember that you are in control of how you react. I’ve realized that I need to focus on myself instead of letting their negativity get into my head.
I recently started thinking about this topic because my coworker tends to talk very negatively at work. She talks negatively about her life, our bosses, coworkers, everything going on with Covid-19, and so on. I used to let the negativity get to me. I would get really stressed and then I would internalize that stress. I felt like I needed to respond to her negativity with positive and kind words, even though she shot down all of the kindness and positivity I was offering. Eventually I realized no matter what I say these are her issues. I don’t need to respond and offer my opinion and advice, because that isn’t what she is looking for from me. All I can do is offer a polite attitude while she is venting.
When listening to negative thoughts from others, how you should react is dependent on the thoughts. I am going to break down negative thoughts by others into two categories. First, negative thoughts that have nothing to do with you. These are things like someone talking about how much they hate their life or something their friend said. These thoughts have nothing to do with you. In these cases all you can and should do is offer kindness, but don’t offer an opinion or advice. It is none of your business unless they ask for your opinion or advice. Don’t let their negativity get you down because their negativity is not affecting you, so there is no point in internalizing your stress about their negativity.
Second, negative thoughts that do have something to do with you. These are things that even though they may not directly affect you in the way the other person is talking, the topic may have implications that could affect you. First, it is important to take a deep breath. Typically other’s negativity is not directly affecting you, but if the topic may affect you, you need to deal with it in a more positive way.
The first thing to think about is whether you have control over whatever may affect you. For example, my coworker was venting over Covid-19. Do I have control over Covid-19? No. Do I have control over the actions I take to prevent myself from getting Covid-19? Yes. If you focus on things you can’t control you will drive yourself crazy with worry. Focus on doing your best to prevent possible negative situations. That is all you can do.
Whenever you are faced with any type of negativity you need to take a deep breath. Ask yourself whether this negativity affects you or whether it has nothing to do with you. If it has nothing to do with you, offer a kind attitude and hold off on offering an opinion or advice unless asked for it. If the negativity may affect you, ask whether you can control it. If you can, then do just that. If you can’t, focus on doing the best you can and control what you can control.