Unhooking From Negative People

In this episode JJ and Melissa discuss ways to deal with people who are constantly sharing negative thoughts and feelings.

October 20, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast, this little band or is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
So most years ago, I had a work colleague, I don't work with him anymore. But we, we work together pretty consistently. And he was super negative all the time. Like, like, everything was bad, or the sky is falling kind of kind of stuff, right? I didn't even ask him how his weekend was. And it was, like, always, never a good thing about the weekend, as always, what went wrong? Or what struggle he had for the weekend? And I found it really hard to be around. Yes. And I fought really hard to interact with him. And, you know, and and since I'd say I'm a more positive person, or like a glass half full kind of guy. I, I just really struggled. Yeah, no. And I was just wondering, like, how does being around that kind of person and self awareness? And things kind of like, you know, flying, right, like, what, what tips would you have? For me to deal with someone who I don't quite align with like that?

Melissa Albers  1:37  
Yeah, I this is such a good topic, because I think that we all have people in our lives that we don't know how to handle because they're, I mean, and I think that there's two different camps of people. To me, there's the random negative person that you run across in target, or, you know, just like on a project or for a short term, you have that short term negative person, and perhaps how you interact with that person is different. If it's someone that's in your life consistently, and they don't share the same level of optimism, or positivity, or even just worldviews are so different. I think it's a much bigger conversation.

JJ Parker  2:24  
Yeah, my tactic was to just avoid him in the hallway. Yeah, yeah. didn't work very well.

Melissa Albers  2:34  
Well, I always I always think, you know, what you avoid actually persists. If something, if something bothers you, by simply walking away, that might be a tactic in the moment to get us by. But I think that it can sit in us, you know, that feeling sits in us, and it bothers us. And I think there's some different techniques and tactics like to your to your question that would be worth having a conversation with, like, let's just talk about the short term relationships first, you're not as invested in somebody that you don't know very well, or that you just run across? You know, in a short term, like, like I said, if you're grocery shopping, and somebody bangs into your cart, and they're real rude, and they blame you for it, and then they walk away.

JJ Parker  3:23  
It's easy to brush that off, right? Like, oh, yeah, I don't know that person is having a bad day, or they're just grumpy or whatever.

Melissa Albers  3:31  
I wish grumpy Wasn't that a word that has had a negative connotation? Because I always think that's kind of a fun word.

JJ Parker  3:38  
To say, right.

Melissa Albers  3:41  
But yeah, it's easier to put that in a box right into not let it sink in. And to not take it personally. Unless we're tired. Even sometimes being very aware. If we run across the random, negative person. And if we're tired, and we're not paying attention or protecting ourselves, we actually can get really thrown off center, but we usually don't, it doesn't usually last it's pretty short term.

JJ Parker  4:06  
Well, we talked about that the other week about self awareness and being tired. Yeah. Sometimes really shorten the fuse.

Melissa Albers  4:14  
Yeah. You know, just for the listeners, I think they get a kick out of knowing that when we started the podcast today, we're like, hey, what should we talk about? We should talk about being tired because I'm so tired. Oh, no, nevermind.

JJ Parker  4:25  
We already did that one. But

Melissa Albers  4:29  
I think I think the real the real challenge or the real conversation begins when the relationships that we're referring to or the people that we're referring to, that are having more of a negative spin on things are not the same view as us about things. It's harder when there are people that are in our lives all the time, my spouse, a sibling, a parent, a co worker, you know, there's a lot more investment in those kind of relationships. Those are those go deeper, right? And I think that when there's that kind of more of an investment, there's also much more of a willingness, even if you're unaware to take on their stuff.

JJ Parker  5:18  
Yeah, we talked about that before, like, how a lot of people look for validation of their feelings, right? Like, like, if I'm really upset about something, I want to go find someone who is also going to be as upset as I am. Yeah. And when I don't, when you'll find that you actually get pretty mad.

Melissa Albers  5:41  
Yes, yeah, absolutely. You can get

JJ Parker  5:43  
why aren't you as mad as I am? Now? I'm mad at you not being mad,

Melissa Albers  5:48  
not mad at you. Now. Not only is this whole situation not good for me. Now, I'm mad at you. In addition, yeah. And it's very interesting how that works and relationships, right? Because when we have a certain view of things, I always say, we have a certain view of things. And we look for allies. Mm hmm. You know, we want to have those allies. And when you're working with somebody, or you're in relationship with somebody who has a more natural, negative or pessimistic approach to things, and you are someone who is working on being self aware, you're working on feeling good, we're always talking about that is to just your whole goal really, is to feel good. There's a natural split. And so how do you manage that? And as you have more and more awareness? How is it possible for you to first of all, notice that you're getting sucked in? Yeah, I think that's the first part is like, notice that you're getting sucked in. And, and there's, there's two things to this. To me, it's the reactive state of being sucked in. And then it's the proactive what do you do about that? You know, as soon as you've been as soon as somebody got you, where they want you?

JJ Parker  7:01  
Yeah. What do you do about that? Well, yeah, I actually, you know, as a, as a tactic to try to connect, I actually played the like, let's get negative game for a while with him, right? Like, oh, like, let's like, Let's stand around and complain about things for a while. Like, that didn't work for me, because it made me feel terrible. Like, I don't want to sat around and complain about things like that's not who I am. And so trying to play that game with him. It just it just didn't work.

Melissa Albers  7:34  
Right. And and I would also wonder, do you think it actually helped him?

JJ Parker  7:40  
Well, that's a good question.

Melissa Albers  7:42  
Yeah. Because here's the other thing that I've noticed is that when somebody is down, the or they're sad, or they're mad, there's no amount of you matching what they are, that will help them feel higher or better, or happier. So if somebody is really angry, and you spend time being angry with them, it just jumbles up that energy of anger. It just creates more what you focus on you creating more of negativity, pessimism, you know, the world's terrible, like, right now, there's a lot of stuff happening in our world, that gives people an easy entry point to feel bad. You know, we're in a political election year, we're having a pandemic, we're having hurricanes, we're having a school issues, we're having all these things. So there's lots of reasons that people can just dump right down and feel very sad, feel feel very helpless, hopeless, pessimistic. And your self awareness can really help in that, when you sense it that's happening. If it's somebody that you love, somebody that you're in partnership with. The first thing is, again, check your energy, make sure that you are centered, make sure that you are emitting the kind of energy that is helpful, not adding to where that person is. That's the very first thing. I think that that's, that isn't always easy, though. Because we love We love other human beings. That's what we do. We're in tribes, we want to be supportive. We like group thinking, it makes us feel safe. And yet, when we start to parse things out like this and look at it from that stream of, if somebody is really really down, sitting there complaining with them for an hour about how awful everything is, I can promise you, it isn't helping that person.

JJ Parker  9:46  
So, so what can we do to be helpful?

Melissa Albers  9:50  
Yeah, I think that the very first thing is and this is what I always say, I think the very first thing is is to be aware of What makes you feel good in every single situation? Are you in your centered space? Are you in your authentic self? Are you in your actor self? Where are you? And when somebody throws you off with a lot of bad stuff, bad energy, and there's someone that you love, can you remain in your centered space, that's the very first thing is if you can remain in your centered space, you have objectivity, you have higher awareness, and you recognize, oh, here we are, like, I have more awareness in this moment, right? That self awareness is the conscious awareness in the moment of how we feel. And it gives us a greater lens for seeing how other people are. So that's the first thing. The second thing is, is to remember that no amount of sadness from your perspective is going to help them come out. So even the tactic of well, I want to, I want to make them feel like I'm with them.

JJ Parker  10:59  

Melissa Albers  10:59  
right. I want to make them feel like I really, I'm with them, like, I love this person, or I really want this person, I really have a strong friendship with this person. And I don't like that they're feeling bad, you know. But in that moment, by offering up a different energy, and, and I don't mean a wild opposite approach, okay? Like, if somebody is really mad, there's no you can't, you can't

JJ Parker  11:27  
go at them with like, super happy over the top

Melissa Albers  11:31  
unicorns and rainbows, right? No, because it'll make them more mad. And it's disingenuous at that point. It's true. It's disingenuous at that point, and it does cause a huge ruckus, I've I've done that many, many times. And I've been, you know, faulted for you're not, you know, you don't you just don't understand like, I, if I had a quarter for every time somebody said, you just don't understand as a response to me not picking up the pessimistic one and running with them.

JJ Parker  12:03  

Melissa Albers  12:05  
So the short term of that is, remain more neutral. Yeah, even if you don't want to go Hi, hi, hi. Just remain more neutral on purpose. If you want to briefly acknowledge, briefly, very briefly, I'm sorry, you're sad. Are that must be hard. Yeah. Because you do want to show them your caring and your love, but you do not want to validate and amp up and add to the energy that they are emitting that isn't helpful. So check your energy. The second thing is, give them some sort of validation that I hear you, that must be hard. And then model what you do in your awareness. When you are spending time that doesn't feel good. In our journey with the self awareness journey, we talk about it a lot. It's like, for every single topic, there's actually two topics, you know, and and there are some thought leaders who say it's like a stick, every single thought is like a stick on one end of the stick is the absence of it. And on the other end of the stick is the having of it, like money. One end is no money. The other end is a lot of money, a stick of feelings, on one end is unhappy on the other end is happy. So for every single topic, there's actually two in a pessimistic conversation, the topic of the thought might be very valuable, but they're spending time on the wrong end of the stick. And by your awareness, you can simply slowly bring them to their awareness to the other end of that stick as well, by saying something like, you know what, there's a lot of good, that's actually happening right now. Like, for example, this pandemic, boy, oh, boy, there's lots of ways that people want to spend time feeling terrible, and scared. And and I'm not saying none of that is true. I'm simply saying that we can make choices to focus on the other parts of it that are helpful, like the amazing way that we have come together as people to help and support each other. So it's simply focusing on the part of the story that makes you feel better. And the more you focus on that, the more you create, and the more you create, the better you feel. And it just you start to get into that habit. So that's how you can model when somebody else is having a tough time.

JJ Parker  14:43  
Got it.

Melissa Albers  14:46  
The last thing I would want to mention in this topic is creating sort of a I almost want to say fence when somebody has a lot of Really hard energy coming at you, by you being more aware and more open, people are drawn to that. And when people are drawn to you being a positive, good, centered person, they will also want you to pull them out of the hole as often as possible. Hmm. So it's very important for you to make decisions about how to create a bit of a, of a barrier between you and them. In other words, that you will make decisions like I will do this to help this person, but I will not absorb. And I will not take on these things that aren't mine. I'm not I don't want to be somebody's punching bag. I don't want to be somebody dumping ground. And sort of creating what you're willing and not willing to interact with an individual that's in your life frequently.

JJ Parker  15:56  
Yeah, that's what if you know, it, really, to me, I always felt like, like, you sound like a punching bag. Like I was just there taking on all this energy. Yes, negative energy. And, and I, you know, and it just didn't, it felt really heavy. You know, that's even like, the small things felt heavy and a Yeah, it? Yeah, I remember. And I was, you know, you know, you're talking about building a fence. Right? But being a baby be more purposeful about those interactions?

Melissa Albers  16:31  
Yes, exactly. Yes, exactly. Because let's face it, I mean, if we're talking about if we're talking about a spouse, for example, if a spouse has a different disposition than you do, it can be a real source of stress in the relationship. Because one spouse is a certain way, and the other spouse is feeling the need to match. Or they're feeling the need to always make that spouse feel a certain way, when in reality, that's false, probably doesn't want you to do that. But it's a natural human reaction to try to match with the people that we are, together with. And, and we will do a much greater service to ourselves and all of mankind by growing in our own awareness and recognizing that we're all on our own journeys. Yeah, and every interaction that we have, we have a choice of how we want to be with that interaction, and how we want to be with those other people. One thing I've noticed, just in my own growth, through my own self awareness, I have stopped trying to make everybody feel like I feel Yeah, I was very much around that. Well, you know, you just don't, you know, it's you should, you know, it's great. Like, everything, you could be like this, if you would just if you would just change these three things, and, and taking on other people's stuff. With the best of intention.

JJ Parker  18:09  
Yeah. Yeah, we talked about this before, like, it's, you have to take care of yourself first, before you can take care of others. Right. Yeah. And we talked about that, you know, many contexts. But yeah, just in mental health and self awareness, like, you know, make sure you're staying centered, don't take on everybody else's stuff. Yeah. And then you're able to be there for them. Right? Exactly sad, then then you can kind of model and help help get them back to their centered state.

Melissa Albers  18:42  
Right, exactly. And some people don't want to go, some people don't want to, there are, they're so unfamiliar with what it feels like to not have stress or drama in their lives, that they don't even know how to be with that. And that is actually not our responsibility to change that. But by modeling our own self awareness, making conscious choices about when to engage with those people that are in our lives consistently, how to engage. Those things are really, really important, and it will start to change the dynamic, it will change the dynamic. It's funny, my husband and I have mutual friends who when they are with me, the topic of I've we've been laughing about this because my husband is you know, very easygoing, very kind. And so people will feel really comfortable to just like tell him everything and just complain and go on and on and, and he'll never stop them because that's just not who it is. And so they think it's okay for them to go on these rants. You know, political rants or whatever it is the healthcare system or whatever the rant of the day is and those same people when they're with me, they never do that.

JJ Parker  20:03  
And it's funny,

Melissa Albers  20:05  
isn't it? Funny? Yeah. And I think it's just because I think either it's subconscious or whatever they just know, I'm not, I'm not up for that. Just. So it's kind of interesting to just think about the relationships in your life and how they respond to you. And, and as your awareness grows, how you are able to help them sort of, you know, start to modify over time, what ways to focus.

JJ Parker  20:32  
I've, sometimes I've gotten the label of like, a judge is just like a really good listener. But the fact is, I'm just like, really patient, and we'll sit there for a really long time. But if people just like, ya know, like, blind in their mouth for an hour.

Melissa Albers  20:51  
That sounds uncomfortable.

JJ Parker  20:54  
It's fine. They stopped eventually.

Well, this has been really interesting conversation. I mean, some of this stuff, you know, as, as we learn and grow, I think, gosh, I wish I would have known that years ago, right. But it's all part of the journey, right? Like,

Melissa Albers  21:18  
oh, we find the journey.

JJ Parker  21:20  
Think of these past experiences and learn how to deal with them in a different way. And when when they come up in the future, we'll have a little bit better perspective.

Yeah, and there's so much further to go. There's always things to learn. There's always new ways of being and I mean, I think it's really fun. If you've enjoyed this podcast, check us out on the web at the selfawarenessjourney.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Facebook

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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