Naysayers: How to handle negative influences in our life

Now, hang on, before you all lynch me for addressing what you might think is an obvious answer, there are plenty of reasons “Just cutting them out” isn’t the easiest option, or even viable.


I always worry that I won’t have enough things to talk about here, but topics seem to not only drop into my lap – they actually contribute to a unifying theme over a few days, giving me ample time and ammunition to construct a pretty cohesive post: as well as allowing me the time for my pertinent perspective to congeal quite nicely.

That said, I had a conversation with a wonderful new friend yesterday on this very topic, then this morning had a relevant online chat with someone who’d fall quite nicely into the “naysayer” category… So since I’ve had a couple days to think about this, let’s define where we stand.

For me, a naysayer is, at their core, someone who dwells in the negative during any interaction I have with them. This allows room for those who either cannot stop thinking about how dissatisfied they are with their own lives, but also those who feel the need to judge me on how I lead mine. Don’t get me wrong, friends who are blunt with me and expose me to see some of my own “less than desirable” habits or behaviors are immensely helpful: as long as their perspective and advice comes from a trusted and loving place! Instead I refer to those who only speak ill, as if their way of seeing a situation is the only way that’s acceptable.

You’re going to laugh now, because the advice is, obviously, simple. You need to reduce or eliminate these interactions, and how you choose to do so is where the intricacies lie.

So if they’re an acquaintance and there’s no “love lost” between you, telling them to get bent or get stuffed (choose whatever colloquialism matches your country of origin or abode) is short and simple. Depending on how you interact, you can end your relationship in one of two ways. If you only chat in the virtual sphere, either ignoring their messages or blocking them from your lists is a great non-confrontational technique. This is similar to receiving unwanted advances from someone on a dating website: ignoring/not replying to a message has the same effect as responding to them telling them you aren’t interested, while sidestepping your actual reasoning.. It lets them form their own reason, versus you having to uncomfortably tell them that you aren’t attracted to them, or something they might find equally insulting. Skipping that whole interaction is often easiest, especially if you haven’t studied conflict resolution.. Inevitably if you give your real reasoning, a counter message will follow. Be prepared!

What if they are a close friend, or a family member? The former can be treated as above, but with an even softer, cuddlier variant of kid gloves. If it’s family, and breaking all ties is (usually) not an option, honesty of some variety is the only recourse if you want to change the dynamic. I’ll link the “Aikido in Everyday Life” book again here, please ignore the poor Google reviews: while some of the situations and names used as examples show the age of this “manual”, the techniques are not only still sound, but incredibly efficient in their effectiveness. Basically, knowing how to present your feelings and standpoint on how the other person makes you feel doesn’t have to be communicated in a way where there’s a clear “winner” and “loser” in each conversation. The book does a far better way of describing these techniques than I do, and I won’t try to do them any justice in replicating them here. Even if this particular post doesn’t apply to you, the book is still a wonderful read for anyone who deals with potential verbal conflict in their lives. Aka, everyone!

In my situation, as far as the old friend I chatted with this morning, it was far easier to just choose to cease initiating or responding to attempts at conversations. Not that it’s easy – in fact, it’s a little painful, but it’s less hurtful to both parties with this particular flavor of history that I’d rather not dredge up or revisit that time in my life: I’ve made such vehement, severe efforts to leave it far behind and move on, whereas that circle that I have extricated myself from (in my perspective) hasn’t grown in the direction that has become pillars supporting the strongest core principles in my life. I won’t say that I haven’t tried to make our tentative friendship work over the last few tumultuous years, but each time we conversed, old behaviors surfaced on both sides, perhaps out of previous paradigms of comfort. Once we’d part ways, I’d head home and “stinkin’ thinkin’ ” would pervade my mental headspace, often for days, as I’d try to process and eliminate these previous past thoughts from my thoughts. No more. It’s far healthier for me to move on alone in this situation, and only wish the best for this old friend.. I wish him well and hope that he’s able to wade through the waters to the comfort of personal resolution on his own.

Video discussion below:

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