No one is really an eternal optimist. Everyone has their down moments, and it’s being able to recognize that those moments will pass that helps make us stronger.
But we all know those people who never really seem to overcome their bad moments. Instead, they brood over the negative, and they’re always planning for the worst.
Most of the time, those people are going through something really difficult, and we don’t want to give up their friendship just because they’re struggling. Staying positive around negative people can be challenging, especially if you’re having a rough day yourself, so here’s are five steps that can help.
1. Remember That You’re Just There To Listen
You don’t have to provide a solution to your negative friend’s misery—you just have to be willing to hear them and be empathetic. Often, when people are being perpetually negative, they just want someone to hear them and say “Wow, I’m glad you told me. That sucks.”
Sometimes they want us to share our own experiences to let them know that we can relate and that we can got through it, but rarely do negative people expect you to solve their problems.
If you do have a negative friend who gets angry that you can’t provide him or her with solutions to their negativity, don’t beat yourself up. Just tell them that you can’t really solve their problem, but you’re willing to listen.
2. Acknowledge Your Triggers
If you’ve noticed that you feel worse after spending time with your perpetually negative friend, then evaluate your experiences with her and try to figure out what made you feel bad or sad.
Psychology Today calls this “acknowledging your triggers,” or the things that trigger negative emotions because of your own past experiences. If you’re aware of subjects that might be emotional triggers for you, then you’re one step closer to controlling how you approach and react to that subject in the future.
You can engage less on those topics, or prepare yourself to do something that makes you happy immediately after you’ve discussed a triggering subject with your negative friend.
3. Remind Yourself Of What’s Going Well In Your Life
Gratitude goes a long way, according to MindBodyGreen. If you spend time around someone who brings you down, then just make a mental or physical list of all the great things that have happened to you recently.
Just try to remind yourself that life is bigger than the negative conversation that you had with your friend.
4. Try To Plan Definite, Short Activities
If your negative friend just makes you feel more and more negative the more time you spend with him, then try planning shorter activities. Maybe get lunch with them, but don’t plan on spending the entire day together.
Or try to make sure the activities will keep you both occupied. Go bowling with a group of friends, or exercise together (exercise even releases endorphins, and as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde told us, “Happy people just don’t kill their husbands!”).
If you want to give your friend time to vent, then just make sure that you have something planned so that venting isn’t all that you do.
5. Know When To Walk Away
Sometimes negative people just want to bring others down with them if they’re going through a particularly difficult time. When negative people start to take their negativity out on others, then it’s time to walk away.
Calmly explain to your friend that you are willing to listen to and support her, but let her know that you don’t like the way she’s treating you. Tell her that you love her, but that you expect respect and love in return.
Regardless of how badly someone’s feeling, you shouldn’t have to take emotional or mental abuse from them. You deserve your happiness, and sometimes you just have to remind yourself of that.