Have you ever been so exasperated by someone’s rude behavior that you lay awake in the middle of the night thinking about that person? Have you ever found yourself complaining about the same co-worker every day?
Negative people should occupy the least amount of space in your life, yet their toxic behavior can easily take up more time and energy than it deserves. Whether you’re working alongside a constant complainer or dealing with an overly critical boss who insists your work is never good enough, negative people can wreak havoc on your life if you’re not careful.
Here are five signs you’re giving negative people too much power in your life:
1. You talk about them a lot.
Venting your frustration doesn’t release your anger. In fact, studies show venting adds fuel to the fire. The more you talk about someone’s annoying habits, rude behavior, or offensive comments, the more power that person claims over your life. In addition, every minute you spend complaining about someone is 60 seconds of your life you've devoted to that individual’s negativity. You could have spent that same time talking about something much more productive.
2. You think about them when they’re not around.
Rehashing someone’s rude behavior or replaying that dreadful conversation in your head over and over again gives a negative person power over your mind. The more time you spend thinking about them, the more time you give them. Even dreading a future interaction with a negative person gives that individual power over you. If you spend two hours dreading a one-hour event with someone, you've let that person steal three hours of your time.
3. You allow them to limit your life.
Saying things like, “My family holiday party is ruined every year because my brother is there,” or “I’ll never enjoy my job as long as my boss is here,” allows a negative person to limit your life. Be aware of the conclusions you draw about how much impact someone has over you. Sweeping generalizations and catastrophic predictions are likely to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies if you let them.
4. You let them control your emotions.
Getting frustrated or feeling angry by someone else’s inappropriate behavior is normal. But it’s not healthy if you feel like someone else has control over how you feel. Maybe a negative person can make you so upset that it takes you two hours to calm down. Or maybe your stomach churns at the mere thought of seeing a particular individual. Strong emotional and physiological reactions are a sign someone has too great an impact on your life.
5. You allow them to negatively influence your behavior.
Being surrounded by too much negativity can lead to an "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em" attitude. If everyone else lies, cheats, and steals without paying the price, you might feel compelled to jump on the bandwagon just to stay afloat or allow your emotions to get the best of you. Perhaps you say mean things on social media or you become passive-aggressive in an attempt to take back control. No matter what you do, if it isn’t in line with your values, you’re giving toxic people too much power over you.
How to Take Back Your Power
There are ways to take back your power from negative people. Even if you can’t physically distance yourself from an individual, you can set healthy boundaries and prevent them from draining your mental strength.
Choose to focus on more productive things in your life. Commit to coping with your emotions in a healthy way. And decide to focus on what you can control—your thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Want to know how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength? Pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do.