We often take on the feelings, behaviors and attitudes of those we spend time with, like the co-worker or friend who’s always complaining and speaking negatively about her body, job, relationships – and basically, her life! Do you know why she looks forward to spending time with you? Because it’s her opportunity to vent about it all and find relief. Afterwards, she feels better, much lighter, freer and ready to get on with her day, but how do you feel?
I’m guessing that you probably feel drained, deflated and uninspired. Although your intention was to be a good friend and listener, once you became involved emotionally in your friends negativity, you were brought right down with her, right?
Negative relationships affect your health and happiness
Now, what about the friend who is lighthearted and enthusiastic, embracing life with eagerness and zest. Just thinking about the time you spend together brings a smile to your face because it’s always fun, relaxing and enjoyable. The relationship is easy, which makes it easy to be excited about the rest of your day. When you hang out with this person, you’re able to:
- Appreciate every moment
- See all the beauty that’s around you
- Be encouraged, no matter what your own situation is
- Possess and maintain a positive attitude
Which relationship do you think is better for your health? Well, here is what studies show:
Positive thinkers have a 55% lower risk of death from all causes and a 23% lower risk of death from heart failure
Now, of course, no one has a perfect life and positive people do experience unpleasant situations. In fact, the positive, optimistic person may have experienced more unfortunate situations than the negative, pessimistic one. The difference is this:
- The positive thinker finds a greater appreciation, perspective and sense of gratitude in the midst of the experience.
- They are grateful for what they see and have when they compare it to less fortunate situations they’ve experienced.
- When they encounter a stressful situation, they look for ways to improve it versus allowing it consume them.
- When a problem arises, they use it as an opportunity to find the most appropriate solution, rather than dwelling on or magnifying all that’s gone wrong.
How to avoid becoming the victim of unhealthy relationships
Negative people expect negative results, and when that happens, it only confirms what they had originally predicted. The cycle of negativity can be broken if they choose, but misery loves company and it’s up to you to avoid becoming their next victim.
Here are some ways to recognize and avoid unhealthy, negative relationships:
- Negative people are comfortable judging, gossiping and criticizing, because putting others down offers them some relief from their pain.
- Negative people see themselves as the “victim” in a script written just for them.
- Negative people feel others have caused or are responsible for his or her “lot in life”.
- Negative people use such excuses for staying exactly where they are in life, even though they’re unhappy.
Each of us has a broad range of emotions. We are all capable of both optimism and pessimism, and in the end, it’s always a choice. We choose how we want to think, feel and act, which means that no one has to be a victim – or remain a victim. We can determine what happens next.
The same is true of unhealthy relationships. If you are working towards changing the way you think, feel and react, it’s important to surround yourself with like-minded people who will support, encourage and inspire you. Limit your time with people who drain, upset and frustrate you.
Remember, you are the driver on the road to fulfillment, greater purpose and happiness.
This is your life and while there may be many detours, you have the power to steer yourself in whichever direction you choose to go. To feel good and enjoy better health, stay on the road that follows an optimistic perspective and find the positive people that support your cause along the way.
How have you dealt with negative hitchhikers along your journey through life?
Photo from here, with thanks.