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Take a close look at the people around you and the environments you frequent. Is there a common theme of negativity? Are they constantly having discouraging and defeating conversations? Are family and friends encouraging you in your time of need and rejoicing with you when you succeed, or the opposite? Do you feel heavy and burdened by some of the places you go, such as work or school, or even when at home?

You may be up to your head in deep water, close to drowning in negativity. It is not healthy.

While we work to reconnect positive thinking to our life experiences, we have to do some self-inventory. It is always important to consider changes that need to be made in our lives, from eating better and exercising, getting more rest, watching our temper, to removing ourselves from toxic people and environments as much as possible.

There is a human connection to our environments and the energy we receive from other people. Have you ever walked into a room where people are angry with each other, and you can feel their animosity? You can tell that something is off, you just do not know what it is. Well, this is the same dynamic at work when you are in the presence of negative people and environments. You become immersed in the energy that is surrounding you, and you feel like you have no control over your current thinking and emotions.

Ever have a conversation with someone who then left you feeling irritated? When you first met with them you were peaceful and feeling good, but then they somehow brought you down with their negative and pessimistic conversation. Maybe their intentions were good, or they were just venting to you, but after they left, you picked up where they left off, feeling irritable. This is the feeling of swimming around in the pool of negativity, with no lifeguards present, or floating devices to protect you.imagesOr, your job is literally dragging you down. You are beginning to dread going to work everyday. Now, I am not recommending that you just up and quit your job, but if you often find yourself in a place that is zapping the positivity right out of you, it may be time to research and pursue other options. And there are always other options, always.

Maybe it’s a family member or a dear friend. So, you can’t just walk away from them or tell them to shut-it-up. There are no easy answers here, although I can personally testify that I have left some relatives in the dust because of their constant negative approach. I did my best to reason with them, even instill some positive responses to their negative outlook, but after years of feeling irritated after leaving interactions with them, I had to guard my heart and mind, and separate. It was not an easy choice, but necessary for my own sanity.

The point is, before you assume that: “negativity is life,” and then just deal with the feeling of drowning every time you come in contact with negative people or environments, I charge you with the task of taking action. Begin to identify these negative individuals or environments and their patterns, so that you can prepare yourself and respond accordingly. Here are some patterns I have noticed:

  1. Most negative conversations are prefaced with some kind of warning: “Guess what he/she did?”; “I am so pissed off!”; “You won’t believe what so and so said”; “I told you!”; “Why are you still dealing with them?”; and my favorite is when they show me their phone with some disrespectful message or image, and then they wait for my response. Stop them in their tracks. Interrupt them if you have to. Tell them you do not want to talk about that but you wish them the best in dealing with it. Interject something positive into the conversation. If you have to, get out of their presence for the time being. Maybe next time they will remember that you don’t want to be part of the pity party or gossip hall.
  2. The energy from the person or the environment is off. You know more than you think and your intuition serves a purpose. If you know someone is on a rampage and you are directly in their path, then expect that the negativity that is coming. If you know that the meeting you are going into may be hostile or that co-workers dislike each other, then prepare for that. Sometimes, during those interactions and situations where our presence is required, we have to mentally prepare ourselves for the negativity. Then, when we leave, we can realign our thinking by switching off the negative thoughts and transitioning into something positive.
  3. We bring our own negative thinking into a conversation or environment, and it impacts others. Actually, we do this more than we realize. Maybe we are having a bad day. Or maybe we just left a negative encounter and we haven’t “turned off” the conversation that is rolling around in our mind. So, we walk into our next environment or interaction with our own negative, funky energy. We then anticipate the negative in everything around us, and it shows. We take out our negative emotions on others. We have to be mindful of who we are when we arrive somewhere. Of course, we are not perfect, but if we are caught up in a state of negative thinking, best believe that it will rub off on someone.

Sometimes the negative people around us are just caught up in the habit of thinking in pessimistic ways. They may not like to be so negative so often, or may be unaware of their impact on others. This is where we can help to break this cycle for ourselves and others. We can help make sure that nobody is drowning in negativity, including ourselves. But we have to begin with identifying the negativity around us and taking action against it. Speak up! Respectfully let people know that you want to think positively and feel light-hearted, emotionally. And for those environments that we cannot control, maybe its time to set some new standards of interactions with others. Be creative. Maybe its time for a new type of professional development training at your workplace: positive thinking. Talk to your co-workers, supervisors, friends, family, and acquaintances. I guarantee you that most of them are worn down by the negativity surrounding them in their lives too.

Most of all, take care of yourself. Do not drown in negativity by allowing it to consume you.