Top Skills Thursday: Avoid Negativity

In a workplace, and in our personal lives, we’ll meet people who bring negativity in truckloads. Often we find ourselves forming friendships with them because they’re not bad people. They can be honest, caring, supportive, funny, and all the other things we look for in a friendship. That negativity though…Negativity can drive anxiety and depression, even if it’s not coming from within yourself. It creates a focus on what’s wrong, fails to see the way forward, and never relents.

At work, negativity can drain you of enjoyment of your job. It can amplify your own feelings of discontent. It reduces your desire to do well, and in turn reduces the opportunities for change.

In daily life, negativity will leave you feeling exhausted and hopeless.

Negativity is not pointing out an actual issue. Does your employer reduce your hours to the point you barely make enough to pay for getting to and from work? Do you have so much overtime every week that your salary is reduced to minimum wage pay? Is your friend having trouble with a landlord who won’t fix a broken appliance? Do you and your friend feel overwhelmed by current events and spend time discussing those events and their impact on your lives?

Each of these are valid, fixed issues. Pointing these out isn’t being negative. These are saying “This is a problem and it’s not okay.”

Examples of negativity at work might include a coworker who always complains about their boss, no matter what that boss does. The people who go around talking about how much they hate their job. The ones who are still griping about a change put in place months ago.

In your daily life, you’ll find negativity in those who bring up things from the past every time you see them. Generally, it’s the same event from the past, and it is blamed for everything wrong in their life today. Or, it’s the person who forever complains about politics and uses the derogatory phrases spread by commentators, while also deriding those who disagree. (No comments on one side doing this more than the other. BOTH sides do it.)

To ease your anxiety and depression, step back from these people. Many studies prove that we get into a negativity spiral when we’re surrounded by it. We literally lose the ability to see positives. Stepping away from negative people gives us space to look for the things that are going right.

Make room in your life for appreciating the things that are going well. You don’t have to end relationships to do it, but you do need to decide who you’ll spend more time with… the people who pull you down, or the people who lift you up?

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