Negativity affects your life on every level. The more you are around it, the more you feel it. The more you feel it, the more you buy into it and the more power you give it. It starts bleeding in to those around you, until you have a group of people focused on the negative. It has the power to ruin relationships, decrease your work performance, decrease your creativity, and increase stress levels.
The good news? You can fight negativity by starting to change your mindset and the way you approach things.
Not sure where to start? Start small – here are a few smart, effective ways to start thinking about things and to start protecting yourself from negativity:
DON’T TAKE THINGS AS PERSONALLY
Most people act the way they do based on their previous experiences combined with their current circumstances. Perhaps someone took credit for work an acquaintance did in the past, so now he doesn’t trust other creatives anymore. That doesn’t mean he actually has something against you. He simply doesn’t know how to trust people in general because of his experiences and what he’s decided about them.
So try to stop taking things personally. If someone is misjudging you, try to prove to them that they are wrong. Be kind and authentic rather than stressing over it, because the stress will just cause you more harm, and 9 times out of 10 it isn’t really about you at all.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be able to please everyone. On the contrary – people will always come up with new demands and expectations and take advantage of your kindness. That can undermine your self-esteem and keep you from focusing on your priorities.
Learn to say No, to projects, to requests, to things in your personal life, and set clear boundaries. If someone reacts negatively or tries to hurt you, move on. That person isn’t worth your time or attention.
A true friend will understand that you have other things to do and that you’re not available around the clock. A true fan of your work won’t expect you to work for free.
ADOPT A POSITIVE MINDSET
Sometimes this can be really hard, especially if you’re surrounded by negative people or seem to be having a string of bad events. Find ways to be grateful for what you have and then seek ways to achieve more things to be grateful for. Start a gratitude journal and write a few things every day. When I started with a gratitude practice, I struggled to come up with much, and then moved into the tiniest things, like “I’m grateful for the way my kitten purrs when I scratch his chin” and “I’m grateful for the improvement I can see in my sewing skills when I see past projects of mine”. Over time, the more you can find to be grateful for, the more it will reinforce positive thinking patterns and reduce negativity.
Your positive attitude will also inspire others and strengthen your relationships. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more opportunities you’ll find will arise.
FIND SOLUTIONS, NOT PROBLEMS
Most people tend to focus on the problems they are facing instead of actively seeking solutions. That results in feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction. It seems easy at first to see the problem and fall into focusing on all the bad. But if you do that, the problem won’t ever go away. In fact, it will likely become bigger.
Whenever you have a problem, take the steps needed to solve it. Even if it seems insurmountable, find one small piece or one small thing you can tackle. The longer you wait, the more obstacles you’ll face along the way.
Stay away from people who make a drama out of everything. They’re only wasting your time and energy (ever heard the term energy vampire?). Their negativity will affect you sooner or later, and you’ll find yourself pulled back into that zone along with them.
Try to surround yourself with positivity. Build relationships with people who encourage and support you rather than tear you down.
Remember that people don’t actually care that much about what you say or do, no matter what your brain might try to tell you. Focus on whatever makes you happy and stop feeding into the negativity around you. Try taking some baby steps in each of these areas, and you’ll start to see how much negativity affects you and how much better you can feel. And, you’ll likely see more new opportunities that you otherwise might have missed.