Leave Your Problems at the Door
This is no dumping grounds!
Published: August 5, 2012
by Phil Parker
4 deal breakers for negative people.
I’m sure you’ve had the questionable pleasure of hanging around with those who like to dump all their problems at your door, or people who are really negative. And you know as well as I do that they can be like human black holes. Just spending a short time with them can leave us feeling drained and depleted. In an ideal world, you would walk away from them, and get your life back. But often if they share an office with you—or even worse—share genes with you, then running away isn’t an option. You will need some strategies on how to cope with them.
If you’ve been giving too much, you’ll know as you’ll feel drained and flat yourself and you’ll be dreading speaking to them the next time. People who are negative or ‘dumpers’ rarely take responsibility for the problems in their lives. Instead, they prefer being ‘passive’ and feeling like it’s someone else’s fault. The only way they are active in their lives is in complaining.
I’ve created a new word for this way of being. I call it: “Dû” (It’s like do but they dû it without meaning to). You can say “they dû complaining.” As a result, not only will they complain and whine, but they will dû it like an Olympic sport; if you encourage or get trapped in this kind of a relationship, they will see you as someone who gives them the time to dump and you could be listening to their troubles for years.
Here are four ways I suggest to help you cope with any ‘dumpers’ and negative people you may encounter:
- Stay calm, up and detached. (This step is particularly useful when you can’t get the person out of your life because they’re a relative.) These are the trickiest situation as you can’t just avoid them forever. Imagine you are like a tree in the wind or a rock in a stream and just let it flow over. Don’t get hooked into their drama; be kind and nonjudgmental.
- Steer the conversation. You may be tempted to coach these dumpers positively with a question like: Now tell me something good. But this will likely make them feel that you think they’ve just been complaining and then they’ll complain some more, or they’ll take it out on you. Instead, steer the conversation actively and cleverly by saying That reminds me of that time when . . . . Then link to a good story about your shared past or something that you’ve experienced that will either get them to see it in a different way or engage them enough to take them into a better train of thought. For example if they’re complaining about their boss, you steer the conversation by saying, Oh that reminds me, you remember when we had that job at the burger bar and you and the manager got a bit drunk and frisky at the office party?
- Look at yourself. If there's one particular person who drains you the most, ask yourself why this is. The ones who get to us the most are definitely triggering something within us. Or to be more precise, we start dûing upset about what they said. This gives us a great chance to become ‘active’ and gain insight on the stuff we need to sort out in our own lives.
- Be more selective about who you help. Some of us can't resist helping others because it makes us feel good about ourselves. If helping a negative friend by always lending an ear is having the opposite effect, try focusing your energy elsewhere. Feeling good by being needed is not a great pattern to have. You’ll always attract those in need and not feel too good when everything’s going well for everyone. Make sure you take time for yourself. And remember, if it feels unreasonable, then you need to learn that you deserve good things just because you are you. Consider these two quotes: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is one of the most important things we can all do. Now obviously this doesn’t mean don’t take care of yourself or your neighbor; but love your neighbor AND yourself. And: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Use your time and your words to spread happiness and joy and see what a difference you can make.
Phil Parker is an internationally renowned lecturer, therapist and innovator in the field of personal development.