Negativity is a force we have to contend with everyday, it’s something that can come from external and internal sources. But what do we do when it seems to be directed at us from friends, significant others and family? When we deal with criticism and negativity from those closest to us it can be hard to ignore.
Those closest to us are the people we look to for support and love no matter what and yet they are those we are most vulnerable to. If a partner criticizes the way you look, or a if a close friend questions your choices or a family member undermines your accomplishments we often internalize that as a fault within ourselves. That shame and hurt can seep into our own self perception in detrimental ways. So how do we deal with misdirected frustration from constant put downs?
Here at Conquering Life we strive to help people create strong foundations, including internal self esteem so that their sense of worth comes from within rather than outside. This sense of inner stability is especially useful when assessing incoming comments or remarks. I’ve noticed this change in myself especially, when I get seemingly unprovoked negative comments from friends or family I don’t immediately personalize them. I pause and take a moment to assess where this comment is coming from.
I’ve found that remaining calm and addressing the statement, often helps me get to the bottom of the situation. Recently during a conversation with a close friend it seemed that everything I said was receiving a negative counterargument and eventually I stopped and said very calmly, “I’m not sure what you want me to say, I feel a little like everything I’m saying is provoking a negative response from you.” She took some time to process that and eventually realized that her reactions were not based on me but rather on her own stress and worry. While it’s important to not personalize and to be able to assess situations, it is also incredibly important to know when a relationship has become unhealthy.
Another friend, who has recently split up with their partner, was telling me about little comments that her partner made that slowly chipped away at her own self esteem. It seemed that, consciously or unconsciously, her partner was using weaponized negativity and keeping control over my friend by disturbing the foundation of her self-worth. While we all have gotten stressed out and said things we don’t mean to those we care about, it’s when it becomes a pattern of put downs that the situation becomes toxic and harmful.
If your friend, partner or family member is a source of negativity and doesn’t respond to conversations addressing that issue, the best thing you can do is to take space from that person. Their conduct doesn’t reflect on you as a person but rather on their inner turmoil. People who spread negativity are often dealing with their own negative experiences and would surely benefit from Conquering Life. While this may be an explanation for their behaviour that doesn’t make it a justification. We are all responsible for ourselves in this life and just as we shouldn’t place our negativity on others, nor are we required to be the tar our relationships.
Life is a learning curve and we can all benefit from learning more about our relationships.
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