Negativity getting to be too much to handle

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Nice Advice, by Leah Albert

Question: One of my friends always seems to be negative. It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to spend time with her anymore, but I don’t want to ditch her. And I don’t want her to be mad at me. What do I do?

— Shrinking Violet

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Dear Shrinking:

It really does matter whom we spend our time with. A negative friend can put you in a bad mood for the day, but there are also long-term consequences for your physical, mental and emotional health if you aren’t able to break free from the doom and gloom.

You are wise to recognize it might not be a good idea to continue this relationship; however, there are a few things you should consider.

It may be your friend is just going through a slump and having a hard time focusing on the positive. There is so much negativity in our world today it is all too easy to get sucked in to the vibe that the world is going to hell in a handbasket and there’s nothing we can do about it.

A friendly reminder now and then of what is good and what we are grateful for can help put things in perspective.

Rather than allow your friend to continue down the path of negativity, you can try to change the subject or share a story about something or someone who inspired you.

Do this often. People who are frustrated and upset with the world need constant reminders there is still good.

Who else does your friend spend time with? If surrounded by family members, friends or co-workers who are negative, we often take on those characteristics without realizing it. Again, you can try to be an example for your friend by using different language.

Instead of saying, “I hate…” you can choose to say “I don’t agree” or “I believe.” There are many angry words people use flippantly and I question whether they truly understand the meaning of these words.

Using swear words in any situation or sarcastic statements causes wounds that are unseen but can fester and grow over time. A wise woman once informed me sarcasm literally means “tearing of the flesh.”

Would we actually choose to wound someone in that way physically? Most of us wouldn’t — but we do as much damage with our words.

Perhaps your friend has grown up in such an environment and has a lot of festering wounds that need to be addressed.

It takes time and much encouragement for people who have been hurt to open up. You might not even be the right person, so it’s always a good idea to find more positive people to help him/her heal.

However, if you have tried to be kind and serve as a positive example to no avail, then I would recommend you choose to gradually spend less time with your friend.

It would be helpful if you did describe how the relationship was making you feel in a constructive way, such as: “I really need to focus on the positive right now. It bothers me when you complain or belittle others.”

You don’t need to be critical; just state the facts. You are being a good friend by not avoiding the situation.

It’s very likely your friend may get angry with you, especially if you took on the role of a counselor or verbal punching bag. These emotions will go away in time and if you have been able to find positive friends to surround yourself with, you will have the support you need so the negativity won’t consume you.

Ultimately, we can’t control others’ behavior, only our reaction. If you would like to be a light in the world (and the world needs many more!), you need to be sure you are taking good care of yourself.


Leah Albert is a fictitious character. She likes wine and writing. Don’t ask her to be a matchmaker. Do send your questions to Leah at