Did you know that living with a negative person can actually make you depressed?
Science shows that “there is an atmosphere – an aura, they call it – that surrounds us and reaches out toward others. That atmosphere, propelled by the heart, reaches out from four to ten feet, depending on the individual. It contains our conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings, and either the love or the fear we live in.” [i]
The atmosphere that surrounds each person has a conscious or unconscious effect on the people around them.
This means that living with a negative person will have a direct impact on your emotional well-being.
Cam’s mother lives with her and is constantly complaining and negative about everything. Here’s what she says:
“I don’t want to even be in my own house anymore because the negativity is so draining. She even moans about the dogs barking. Her whole attitude and demeanour is very aggressive when I approach her about it and she gets her back up about it. It’s rubbing off on my children. It’s a struggle. I don’t want to tell her things because it will be turned into something negative. Her moaning and negativity makes me depressed.”
What’s hard for Cam is that she can’t get away from the situation because her mother lives with her.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can do:
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer to change those you live with. Ask God to surround your negative person with an atmosphere of light and peace, and to uplift their thoughts to positive things.
Be willing to own your own thoughts and responses toward the negative person. Give your frustrations and irritations to God and ask Him to give you a right attitude toward the person. Ask God to help you see things from the other person’s perspective.
Doing this may change the whole situation.
Detaching yourself from a person’s behaviour is neither uncaring nor unchristian. Maintaining emotional distance will help you survive.
However, maintaining emotional distance doesn’t mean ignoring the person. It just means you don’t allow yourself to be sucked into their negativity. You don’t internalise it or feel responsible for their state of mind.
When you live with a negative person it’s important to protect the positive space around you. When someone’s negativity becomes too strong for you to protect that positive space, then walk away.
This may mean bringing a conversation to a close after making an effort to help. It may mean limiting your exposure to the negative person as far as possible. It may mean getting away from them for a while so you can recharge your own positive energy.
If they sense your withdrawal and confront you on it, be honest and tell them why you are keeping your distance.
When living with a negative person it’s important to surround yourself with positive things like uplifting friends, good music or books, and outdoor exercise. Do these things when you feel you are being drained of energy by the negative person.
Ask God to recharge your mental, emotional, and spiritual energy so you can cope with your situation.
Take your eyes off the problem – the negative person – and turn your mind to Jesus. The more you focus on the problem the bigger it’s going to get. As you focus on Jesus and how good He is, the problem will shrink in size.
Have a straight conversation with the person about how their attitude affects you. Ask them to change or to at least be less negative around you.
Do pick your time though! Don’t confront them in the heat of the moment when you are feeling irritated with their negativity.
If they respond badly, let that be their problem, not yours. Don’t take ownership of their response.
Understand that the negative person you live with may have a huge load of bad experiences that have happened to them that caused their negativity. Grant them understanding, but don’t excuse their bad behaviour.
After all is said and done, you are responsible for your own mental health and if someone’s negativity is getting you down, you should do something about it because they may never change.
How do you deal with negative people?
[i] Free at Last, 108, Drs Ron & Nancy Rockey