“Evil exists to glorify the good.
Evil is negative good. It is a relative term.
Evil can be transmuted into good.
What is evil to one at one time,
becomes good at another time to somebody else. “
I don’t really think they get it.
When discussions come up about negative people in families, communities, the workplace… I hear the same basic advice dished out.
“Just ignore them.”
“Avoid them and don’t spend time around them.”
In a previous post I hit a couple of points regarding our immediate attitudes toward something or someone that cuts across the grain of our perception.
The bottom-line is that we should not instantly label someone negative just because their thoughts or ideas don’t align perfectly with ours. Given careful consideration they might provide an amazing insight or prevent a massive disaster by giving us pause.
It is worth our time to honestly evaluate the person and situation before stamping them with the mark of the negativity beast.
However, if they’ve shown their horns… when we have given a fair and diligent look at both positions and they are obviously being negative for negative’s sake… we need a plan for how to make the most of the situation.
You’ll notice I didn’t say, “how to deal with them,” or “get rid of them,” though those are appealing options.
Real success in life does not come from pacification or avoidance. To make consistent progress forward we have to consciously address the issues in our lives or we will spend our days ducking them. You can’t navigate your way to your version of success if you’re ducking your head behind the dashboard.
So what are steps we can take to make the most of the negative people and circumstances around us?
1. Use them to check your own position. I hit on this in the aforementioned post in more detail. In short, make sure to consider their perspective and see if there is any value you can pull from it. Even if someone is purposefully raining on your parade, there is always something to gain from their rain.
2. Identify their motivation. One of the best ways to release yourself from the grips of a negative person is to identify why they are the way they are. My former boss, mentioned in the previous post, used his erratic behavior as a method of maintaining control over people. By constantly keeping people off balance he was able to move them for his own gain. His fear of being out of control had every relationship in his personal and professional life on edge, but it gave him what he wanted.
Some people are always bringing up the down-side of a situation because it helps them feel better about their own life. You’ll see this a lot throughout humanity. The easiest way to feel better about ourselves is by comparison to those that are in worse circumstances. I said it was the easiest, not the best. Focusing inward and striving for our personal best is the longest lasting and most rewarding way to feel better.
Look for the reason behind the behavior and you’ll soon see… the negativity isn’t about you. It is always about them. Once you see it that way, you can grab tip #3 by the horns.
3. Take 100% responsibility for your environment. This isn’t always popular because our natural tendency is to shift responsibility. “I’m unhappy because of them.” “My job stinks because of them.” None of them are true.
The one about the job is especially relevant for me. First of all, because I’m a lousy employee. I like to make my own schedule, do things my way, etc. If 9 to 5 is the round hole, I’m a square peg. I denied that reality for years before finally coming to grips with it. Why did it finally sink in? Because I gave my boss and his rants a fair shake.
When I honestly looked at his accusations and saw them as more than verbal abuse to defend myself from, but as bullet points to consider, I found that some of them were right on. Hard to swallow.
His reasoning for what he saw proved to be out of left-field and inaccurate, but the substance was real. I liked my job. I just didn’t like having to do it in such a structured fashion. In hindsight, my performance had begun to slip and I was all too ready to hang the reason on my boss and his attitude. Wrong answer.
It wasn’t until I took 100% responsibility for how I felt and acted at work that things turned a corner. My performance stabilized. I approached everyday with a clear idea of what I needed to do and was able to execute that idea in the most efficient way I knew how.
Remarkably, his rants didn’t bother me anymore. In fact, they diminished to almost nothing. He still carried on in the same old way, but my response seemed to take the fun out of it for him. I simply acknowledged what he had to say, took what I could from it, and moved on.
So often we think that the job or boss are responsible for our plight and we look for another job thinking that will solve it. Sometimes it does… at least for a while. Marriage and divorce are no different. We convince ourselves that an outside change will make the difference because we think it will be less painful than looking inside of ourselves for the answer.
Yes, I eventually moved on and will never look back. It wasn’t until I had 100% responsibility that I was able to realize, it wasn’t the job that kept me from total fulfillment… it was me denying where I wanted to be.
I would have never been able to make the transition and love everyday like I do now if it wasn’t for his negativity. Taking the time to evaluate the person, circumstance, and subject separately gave me the perspective to find value. It also allowed me to stay in control of the only thing I’m allowed control over. Me.
Negative people and circumstances are forever. Be excited about that. Negativity is proof of positivity. Without one, there is no need for another. And does anyone seriously want a world with no challenge, failure, or heartbreak? If so, you’ll have to deal with a world without achievement, success, and love. Not much fun if you ask me.
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PJ McClure helps aspiring entrepreneurs to multi-million dollar business owners destroy roadblocks and seize opportunities to achieve their ideal vision of success. He is an award-winning speaker and the best-selling author of Flip the SWITCH: How to Turn On and Turn Up Your Mindset and Unlock Your Life: How to go beyond Time-Management to the Life of Your Dreams. You can download a copy of Flip the SWITCH for Free by clicking here.