While visiting my family this weekend, I was reminded of how important it is to surround oneself with positive people. My immediate family has always been upbeat and supportive whenever any of us tries something new. Perhaps that is part of the reason I find making changes in my life – major or minor – to be exciting as opposed to frightening. But I was also reminded, thanks to a few moments with a miserable family friend, of how a negative person can really make someone who is on a positive journey feel like all their progress means nothing. This post today is to remind all of you that there are just going to be people out there who suck; they suck the excitement out of the story, suck the hope of out having dreams, and suck at being happy themselves so they put it out there onto YOU. Negative people are vampires. My response when I am confronted by these people? SNIP! Cut off. Gone. Sayonara! Lots of sunlight and garlic necklaces over here!!!
If you have a friend who is constantly complaining and critical of everything, including being skeptical or condescending about your newfound success at achieving some of your goals, they are simply unhappy with themselves. Period. You may have spent many many moons trying to help them, listening to them cut down themselves, the world and you, but to no avail. You offer encouragement, your time, your ear, your patience and love, yet they still gripe and snipe and make you feel insignificant. If this is always happening with someone in your life, you should seriously consider ending the relationship. That may sound cruel to some, but in any good relationship, there must be equal give and take. If someone you are close to is always taking away your happiness and not giving you anything but grief, you have a destructive relationship on your hands. In order to be successful with your goals, no matter how small, you must surround yourself with like-minded or at least supportive people, otherwise you may never fully have the confidence or energy to spread your wings. Negative people have a tendency to be draining. They also can cause you to second-guess what you are doing, to make you feel that reaching your personal milestones is meaningless, tend to belittle your greatest moments, and make you feel guilty for moving forward in your life. I remember back when I bought my first home, this same family friend I mentioned above responded to my big news by saying to me, “I‘m not traveling all the way up there for the holidays every year.” (HINT: she would never be invited anyway!)
I asked my mother this weekend why she still continues to spend time with this awful woman. Quite simply, my mother said “I feel sorry for her.” It makes perfect sense for my mother to feel that way, considering she has known this woman for about 30 years, and I can only respect my mother’s sympathy. Because my mother is such a positive person, she never allows the negativity of others to ruffle her feathers. It’s pretty awesome. But for less super-human people, like me, who are a bit more sensitive & who have been prone to self-defeating behavior in he past, we are most certainly better off not being shot down every time we finally take flight. I believe it is better to make a clean break.
I also find that when you are honest with these sourpusses about why you don’t see them anymore, they can often have a sincere, self-realization moment. You may actually do more to help your cranky friend or acquaintance by telling them the truth. In my experience, most people do not want to lose friends due to their miserable outlook! Perhaps your bit of truth-telling will be the wake up call for them to finally take accountability for their bad behavior. Maybe they will finally start working on themselves instead of on you.
Or maybe not…
One fundamental truth is that you cannot make people change. While it is possible to be a positive influence, he or she has to want to change in order to succeed. If the negative person you confronted or cut off never forgives you, then so be it. You already know your life will be brighter without them in it, and after all, they are the ones who made the choice to continue their off-putting attitude. There is no need to blame yourself. Enjoy your freedom! Do wonderful things with it! Vampires be damned!
Who else out there has a person in their life that drags them down? What, if anything, did you do about it?