Positivity is not just a fluffy, feel-good mindset.
It helps us to set and reach goals.
It keeps us moving during difficult times.
It protects us from hopelessness, depression, and inertia.
It enables us to become the very best version of who we can be.
Many people mistakenly associate negativity with intelligence and worldliness. While these traits can coexist, the second two do not feed off of negativity. Rather, they survive in spite of it. People who cultivate a negative mindset are dangerous. They can bring us down with them. They can cause us to stop believing, stop pushing, and, most tragically, to stop finding joy in the world around us.
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Here are seven signs that a friend or family member’s negativity may be hurting you:
1. Even good news is met with pessimism.
They won’t gush over how beautiful your new house is. Instead, they’ll wonder how you can afford it. Are you sure this is the neighborhood you want to buy in? Were hardwood floors really the right choice? They will shake their head and make you feel foolish, when just moments ago you were proud and excited. Don’t give them that power. Their words most likely come from a place of jealousy, not concern.
2. They refuse to engage in wonder.
Do you have trouble imagining this person looking up at the stars in awe? Are they more likely to be frowning at their phone, rolling their eyes at their spouse, or complaining about the autumn chill? Don’t let them ruin your moment. It’s not at all silly to appreciate the miraculous world around us. In fact, it’s foolish not to.
3. They drain your energy.
Remaining positive can be difficult. It becomes even more so when somebody’s negative energy is dragging you down. If you feel spiritually drained after spending time with someone, you may want to consider letting them go.
4. They find reasons to underachieve.
They decline promotions. They sabotage relationships. They often don’t even strive for success in the first place. This comes from fear. It’s further fueled by a compulsion to criticize inwardly as well as externally. It’s a sad thing, and a mindset you need to avoid.
5. Even positive experiences are marked with negativity.
“This has been a great vacation,” they might say, “but I wish it hadn’t rained on Friday.” Their daughter’s ballet recital was beautiful, but was that music really the best choice? The school your child got into is fantastic – if you’re okay with their lack of emphasis on character development. This is a person who can’t see a smile without criticizing the person’s dental work.
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6. They refuse to grow personally.
Growth comes from pushing the boundaries of one’s comfort zone. It takes courage, grit, and a great deal of positive thinking. A negative person avoids risk and discomfort. In turn, they avoid becoming the best version of themselves.
7. They are always the victim.
Negative people love to complain. After all, if they can blame their lack of success on their upbringing, the job market, or the mole on their chin, they can avoid taking responsibility for their own actions. To a negative person, the world is forever unfair. Their locus of control is external, meaning that they believe things just happen to them. Meanwhile, a positive person’s locus of control is internal. This allows them to take charge of their life and change their circumstances.
As Steve Maraboli wrote, “People tend to be generous when sharing their nonsense, fear, and ignorance. And while they seem quite eager to feed you their negativity, please remember that sometimes the diet we need to be on is a spiritual and emotional one. Be cautious with what you feed your mind and soul. Fuel yourself with positivity and let that fuel propel you into positive action.”