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Mark Goulston M.D., F.A.P.A.

How to Cut Your Losses with Negative People

How to break free of negative people

Water seeks its own level,
so make sure the water you are in is pure instead of polluted.

Step 1: Make a list of the most positive, uplifting, low maintenance (easy to please, difficult to upset) people you admire and respect and know or would like to know.

Step 2: Do everything you can to develop a relationship with these people. One way to do that is to figure out what you can do for them that would make their lives better from their point of view (for instance one thing I do is write thoughtful, positive, heartfelt and sincere book reviews if they have one) and because of who they are (i.e. non-takers and non-scorekeepers) this may cause them to want to return your generosity with their own. For me, because they are indeed so special, just the gift of their very precious time is more than enough payment.

Step 3: The more you develop relationships with these wonderful people, who make you want to be a better person, the more repulsed you will be by the takers, whiners, excuse makers, bullies and high maintenance (easy to upset, difficult to please) people to the point where any contact with them will feel like nails on a chalkboard. That will drive you to sever your relationship with the negative people. Another reason you will want to sever your relationship with them is because of the negative part of your personality (the blamer, whiner, excuse maker in you) that is kept alive by continuing a relationship. Allowing that negative part of you to continue is a way of dishonoring the wonderful people you are now bringing in your life and standing in the way of your becoming the better person that they make you want to become.

P.S. One of the best ways to stay on a diet or exercise routine is to make a list of all the negative people who suck the life out of you and all the positive people who give you energy.  Then make a commitment to getting away from or at least minimizing your contact with the negative energy people and a commitment to spending as much time with the positive energy people.  Why? Because a significant number of people go off diets or exercise after they've had an interaction with a negative person.  And when that happens and you want to bite their head off, many of you will instead bite into something that isn't healthy.

A terrific resource for connecting with the right people is Keith Ferrazzi’s megabest seller, Never Eat Alone and if you really want to make a commitment to your personal improvement and achieve breakthrough results using the power of relationship check out Keith’s online university, Relationship Masters Academy.

Also check out the January/February, 2011 issue of AARP Magazine for my article on dealing with toxic family relatives.


About the Author

Mark Goulston, M.D., the author of the book Just Listen, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA's Neuropsychiatric Institute.