Godly Ways to Deal with Negative People & Situations
Things that God and life have taught me.
By Doris J. High
If you are interacting with negative people (and who doesn’t?) and they are people you have to deal with on a regular basis – like a friend, spouse, family member, or coworker – you should never blame them.
Never give your inner peace away by blaming others for what you feel or don’t feel.
That is indeed what you do when you blame another person for your reaction. The moment you give away your inner peace, you become a victim of your circumstances and you begin a pattern of living under your circumstances instead of above them. Blaming another person or circumstance for your problems or thought life will take up way too much of your time and energy, causing you to get stuck (sometimes even lost) in a really dark place – maybe for a very long time.
Sometimes other people do not know they are negative or that they are affecting you in a negative way. Other times you and they know there is negativity going on and you are both trapped in a pattern of being unkind or negative to each other.
The following is what has worked for me in dealing with those who seem to have been born on the negative side of life. I do not get this right every day. Sometimes negative people cause me to internalize a situation and I fail to assume responsibility for my thought pattern. This is not all inclusive, but a beginning – a goal.
If you do not assume responsibility for your thoughts, you will become a victim – the kind of person who goes nowhere and does nothing because you might run into the people who hurt you or someone else in your life. If you do not assume responsibility for your thoughts, every negative situation will drain your energy and drag you down.
Use each situation to your advantage. When you are in the same place as negative people – church, family gathering, work-related meeting, or place of business – treat them like you want to be treated. Treat them like they are valuable to you. If they avoid you, try again at a later date. Only you can assume responsibility for your part in the situation. You cannot make the other person assume their part of the responsibility. Only God can do that, and He may begin working in their life if you do your part.
Remember their birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions; extend sympathy on the death of a loved one. Express concern if they are ill. When you hear someone say something nice about them, call, text, write, or email them a note. Keep on doing that, even if they don’t respond or seem to care about any of your special dates or pain.
Ask God to give you wisdom for assuming this kind of responsibility. Ask Him to give you creative ideas in encouraging those who are negative and unforgiving. Make others wonder how you can be at peace and live in joy during painful, negative situations. Assume responsibility for your reaction.
Don’t Take Your Thoughts Too Seriously
This is one of the most powerful lessons I have learned from God and from life because it is one of Satan’s most powerful tools – especially at night – because our minds are constantly looking for trouble.
Change your focus. For me this is easier during the day, because I think more rationally then, and I can easily go to a Bible verse that is powerful for me in negative moments. If this happens during the night and I know that I cannot go back to sleep because of the negative whirlwind in my mind, I get out of bed, go to my favorite recliner, read Bible verses or listen to songs that shift my focus. Christian radio or TV help me change a thinking pattern. (I do this whenever I can’t sleep – even if I don’t have anything negative going on in my mind. Maybe I just had too much caffeine after lunch.)
Maybe your negative thought pattern is not concerning a person, but a situation like the death of a loved one or something awful that has happened in your life – like abuse or a traffic accident. Maybe your negative thought pattern is worry.
Be patient with yourself and give God time, but never give up on moving toward assuming responsibility for your thought pattern. If you give up, you will move toward a dark, negative place. Happiness and peace of mind do not come to those who give up practicing God’s presence or remembering the teachings of Jesus. Reread the beatitudes. Write down any verses or quotes that help guide you toward peace of mind. Keep them in your face at work and in your house.
If it is more than you can handle, please get help with a professional.
Let Go of the Need to Complain
Ouch! That one hits me sometimes, and I have learned that complaining only drives me into another negative thought pattern. There are times to share concerns with the proper person – but do it in a positive way. If we share it in a negative, whining way – even to our spouse, good friend, sibling, or co-worker – it will also drag them down. When we do that, we become the “negative person” in their life.
When we complain we are not assuming responsibility for our part of the situation. The Bible says we should do all things without complaining. My greatest motivation to keep from complaining is 1 Corinthians 10:10 (The Voice): You need to stop your groaning and whining. Remember the story. Some of them complained, and the messenger of death came for them and destroyed them. (That is in reference to the children of Israel and their desert wandering.) Read 1 Corinthians 10. You will notice that complaining is listed with some of the sins that we consider awful – separating us from God.
Complaining is sin and a waste of time.
Focus on God and Good Things
Focus on the good things about a negative person and the good things in life. Be the person who changes “your world.” We can’t change other people, their situations, or even some of our situations. Death, divorce, pain, and all kinds of negative things will happen in your world and theirs.
Encourage others to focus on good things. Help yourself focus on good things. Those who know me know that photography is something I love. It is a fabulous way to change focus. I have learned to look for light and shadows that I never noticed before. Setting up and posting Bible verses (using one of my photos) on my blog and Facebook each morning is amazing therapy toward training my thought life for the day. On difficult days I go back to the verse many times, because it helps me refocus. Counted cross-stitch is another thing that helps me change focus because it takes a lot of concentration. There are other things I enjoy during my down time, like computer games, but I find they are only good for me when I am exhausted from work and need to do something mindless. If I play them when I am feeling negative about something, they give me too much time to think.
Find things that help you focus on good – it may be cooking, exercising, volunteering, scrapbooking, writing, or painting. Find your focus. Always include Bible reading and good books. I love autobiographies.
When you are with a person who causes you to move toward negativity, work even harder at not thinking or being negative. Withdrawing from them or saying snippy remarks will not help them or you to change focus, plus when we do that, we are not assuming responsibility for our own thought process. You may have to walk away for a bit or purposefully listen. (Sometimes I have to do this by putting my finger over my mouth to remind me to listen and not talk.)
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. Whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here’s what you do: Say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you’re worth. 1 Peter 3:8-11The Message
Assume responsibility for your own thoughts and emotions.
Don’t take your thoughts too seriously.
Let go of the need to complain
Focus on God and good things.
Never give your inner peace away to a bad situation or another person’s negativity.