No More Negative Nellys

Date posted: October 12, 2012

[dc]F[/dc]or years now, I’ve made an effort to significantly reduce the amount of time I spend with people who love to bitch and moan. You know, the ones who really want you to jump on the bandwagon and complain, gossip, and judge anyone and everything?

While having lunch with a friend recently, the conversation at the next table was so negative that I could feel it before I heard it. One of the women — we’ll call her Nelly — was going on and on about her boss, her husband, the “asshole” cop who gave her a ticket for speeding (even though she was going 35 miles over the posted speed limit), pausing only to make a rude comment about almost anyone who passed by their table.

I glanced over at her friend and could almost see the energy draining from her body. Her shoulders were slouching. Her chin was resting on her hand. She was yawning repeatedly as she absently nodded.

Oh boy, do I remember being there; being that person on the other side of the table while my dinner companion spewed negativity all over the place. In those days, I didn’t feel clear, present or confident enough to do anything about it. So there I sat, shoulders slouched. Chin in hand. Yawning repeatedly while absently nodding.

Nowadays, when I’m around the negative Nellys, I can see just how far I’ve come in setting those boundaries. It becomes evident just how much they’re not a part of my regular world anymore. My soul is a bit more vulnerable to the poison since I’m not as desensitized, but I also know I now have what it takes to care for myself during and after these experiences.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say again – I’m far from perfect. Gossip can easily fuel me as much as the next person. My wounded side can get her Irish up and do some trash talking. The difference now is I know she’s speaking from a place of pain so I will tend to her from that perspective.

Are you surrounded by a lot of Negative Nellys? What effect are they having on your daily happiness? Your hopes and dreams? Your perspective in life? By exposing yourself to their toxicity, you’re closing the doors to so many opportunities and gifts. When that kind of negativity permeates your soul, it’s easy for it to become the lens through which you view life. It’s time to clean those glasses.

Take a moment and assess your relationships. Do you have people in your life who celebrate your successes? Support you in a healthy way when you’re struggling? Or do you have friends whose phone calls you avoid because you know there will be nothing pleasant about the chat?

Is it possible that you’re a Negative Nelly? If so, be kind to yourself. Think about what purpose your negativity serves. Often, I find, it’s a form of protection – protection from some painful truths about the quality of your life, or armor that allows you to stay stuck because it feels too scary to make a change.

Maybe you’re acting out a belief that the world is out to get you. Whatever it may be, there’s great news here: You have a choice, each and every day, about the perspective you’ll have in life. Every morning when you wake, you can approach the day with positivity.

While this doesn’t magically make every minute blissful, you’ll be much more apt to see the lesson in everything and much less apt to waste any of your precious time around those stuck in a victim’s spiral.

OK, you know what time it is – your turn! I’d love to hear how this topic lands with you. Can you relate? Have you made changes in this area? Any thoughts, tips, or suggestions you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.

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  1. For great periods of my life I have been a positive person, not a moaner. But I’ve been pulled up recently by my wife for being a cynic about so much stuff. This is just moaning dressed up as some sort of insight. And she’s right. What happened? I’m also feeling a bit stuck at present – no surprises there then.

    As you said, no need to beat myself up – just a reminder to get focused on all the good in my life and in the world. I have stopped watching the news months ago and I am not caught up in that daily cycle thank goodness. But I need to do a bit more.

    A friend of mine says he suffers from pronoia (as opposed to paranoia) – he believes everyone is out to help him. Whenever I think along those lines it becomes true for me. Thanks for the article Kerri and I am off to practice my pronoia skills again today.

    • Thanks for joining the conversations, Brett. Such great insight you share. Isn’t it powerful to know you have the choice every single day as to how your day is going to go — even when tough stuff comes up.

      Here’s to pronoia!

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