So…How do you handle the co-worker who complains constantly, and can’t seem to say anything good about anyone? Or the Aunt who corners you at family gatherings to share her latest illnesses and pains?
First, let’s begin by assuming you are not one of these negative people LOL. If you are, just stop it, and the rest of us won’t have this problem anymore. (Kidding)
Don’t you wish you could just wave a magic wand and make them all disappear? (Not kidding)
What might surprise you, is that negative people can actually be one of your greatest sources for long-term happiness if you know how to handle them.
It’s true—if you use the principles of Appreciative Living, you can transform your experience with negative people to create greater joy for yourself.
And yes, I’ll even show you how to make them disappear.
Here are the 3 steps to make the magic happen.
STEP 1: FIND COMPASSION.
You may want to wring their negative necks, but here’s the bottom line: Overly negative people are unhappy and suffering in ways you can’t see. They may not show it on the outside, but they are not truly happy on the inside.
This kind of negativity is painful to live with, and can cause physical health problems as well. As much as they are making you miserable, they are making themselves even more miserable. You can always leave and get away from them, but they can never get away from themselves.
STEP 2: MAKE AN APPRECIATION LIST
This may sound crazy, but if you’ve been following Appreciative Living for any length of time this shouldn’t surprise you. Positive psychology research shows you cannot think clearly when you are mad, frustrated, or angry, and doing an appreciation list is one of the easiest ways to shift your feelings to the positive side so you can deal more effectively with the situation.
To do an appreciation list, write down everything you can think of that you value or appreciate about the negative person or the situation. What makes this different from a gratitude list, is that you pause for a brief time after writing each item to try and really feel the positive emotion. These good feelings release chemicals in your brain that help to “rewire” your thinking.
It may be hard to start that appreciation list, and even harder to feel the good feelings. The more frustrated you are the more difficult it can be. If you are super mad you may have to get the ball rolling with things like, “She is not a serial killer – at least not yet.” Or, “She took a shower today – I think.” You get the idea.
No matter how cranky people are, they all have strengths, successes, things they do well, and other positive traits. It’s just hard to see these good things when you are overly focused on the bad stuff. But the more you sincerely look for those positive traits the more you find, and the better YOU will feel.
And this is all about YOU feeling better, remember?
Continue with your appreciation list until you feel a little better about the person. Notice I did not say you have to feel great. You just need to feel better from when you started. Of course feeling good would be ideal if you can get there.
STEP 3: PLAY THE POSITIVE DETECTIVE GAME
Who doesn’t love a game? Here’s how to play.
1. Pretend you have a magic wand and you can wave it to transform people. You wave your wand at this negative person and the annoying trait that bothered you most has magically disappeared. It has been replaced by the ideal trait you would most like to see.
Now that you’ve magically transformed this person, notice what new positive trait is there instead. Is this ideal person now being complementary instead of critical? Cooperative instead of combative? Supportive instead of undermining? It is important to figure out what the new positive trait is you would most like to see. While there may be many, pick one for now that is causing you the most grief.
2. Once you know the ideal trait you are looking for, be like a detective and try to find evidence of this positive trait in this person each time you see him or her. Make a game out of it. Look for clues in everything they say or do—no matter how small. We know from The Poetic Principle that the positive trait is in there somewhere no matter how hidden it may be.
You might have to start really small and get a little creative in the beginning. For example, “Looks like Bill is getting a snack at the vending machines. Hmmm… he is being supportive of the vending machine companies. And I see he’s being complementary by saying how good everything looks. Oh – and look how cooperative he is being by waiting his turn and not cutting in-front of Tom!” ☺
While it might seem like you are really stretching in the beginning to see the positive trait in the person, over time you will begin to see it for real. This will also give you something else to think about next time you are with him that will make your interaction more fun.
And don’t be surprised when you finally start seeing the positive trait. And don’t be surprised if the person seems to transform before your very eyes as you continue to play the game.
3. For extra credit, and to turn this into a truly transformational experience, start looking for this same positive trait in yourself. Notice times you are being complementary, supportive, cooperative, or whatever it is you are wanting in this other person. Think of times in the past when you acted in this positive way, and how you can do more of it in your life right now.
A funny thing happens when you start looking for what you want in yourself and others. Your frustration with this negative person begins to melt away, and they don’t bother you so much. And you seem to be happier overall.
And then there comes a day when you realize that you really don’t have that many negative people in your life, which is confusing because you still have many of the same people in your life. It turns out that they don’t need to change; you do.
I told you I’d help you make them disappear ☺
And this is one of the many ways Appreciative Living helps you create true and lasting joy, and why it’s a game-changer for personal growth and happiness.
Tell me – What do you think about this ezine? Was it helpful? Does it sound crazy? What questions do you have? Please try these steps and tell me how it works! What else would you like me to write about? Talk to me so I can keep creating ezines that truly help you live a happier life and answer the burning questions you most want to know!
In-joy! – Jackie Kelm