We often hear the advice to stay away from negative people. But why is it a good piece of advice that we should follow? It turns out that there are good reasons to be picky about your social connections, with some of them being backed by scientific studies.
Why You Should Stay Away from Negative People
1. Negativity is powerful
Research demonstrates that negative experiences have a greater emotional impact on us than positive ones. Bad impressions are quicker to form and more difficult to change.
It means that the emotions you feel as a result of being criticized, judged, or mocked will stick with you more than those felt during happy experiences.
Therefore, if you are surrounded by bitter or judgmental people, you put yourself in a constant flow of negative emotions that are not easy to get rid of.
The truth is that negativity is powerful, so you should be careful about the people who thrive on it.
2. Negativity is contagious
Another reason to stay away from such people is the fact that negative thinking can be contagious, and studies confirm it.
Researchers at Indiana University studied consumer attitudes to products and found that negative feedback influenced the participants’ attitudes the most. Negative opinions shifted their attitudes from good to bad and from bad to worst.
For example, you talk to a negative co-worker every day during a lunch break. Lately, she’s been busy criticizing a new employee for her looks, outfits, and professional qualities. At some point, you find yourself having a negative opinion about this new employee even though she seemed like a nice person when you first met her.
This is how it works, and we are not always aware of adopting someone else’s ideas and views. Negative opinions and emotions are highly contagious, so consider this fact when building your social circle.
3. They kill your belief in good things
Even if a negative person in your life doesn’t focus their bitterness on you, their attitude still affects your perception. You may not even realize it, but it happens.
For example, a friend of yours may constantly complain about other people and the unfair treatment he gets at work. You listen to him once, you listen to him twice. If you hang out with him for long enough, you may find yourself relating to his complaints more and more.
With time, your negative friend can program your mind into believing that most people are evil and life is utterly unfair. A healthy dose of realism is a must, but having your beliefs in good things killed is a different story.
4. They destroy your self-esteem
Another key reason to stay away from negative people is that they destroy your self-esteem. It is particularly important if you have insecurities or are a sensitive person who tends to take things personally.
Different people make us feel different things about ourselves. We light up with the right people and get down in the wrong company. Someone can make us feel powerful, happy, and loved while someone else leaves us feeling invisible and small.
Beware of the people who make you feel bad about yourself. It’s better to stay away from them because they are killing your self-esteem. Ultimately, hanging out with such people will cost you self-confidence and take a toll on your mental well-being.
Yes, someone in your circle may be a little negative or sarcastic, but it’s not okay if they constantly criticize you or belittle your opinions and aspirations.
You may think that it’s natural for friends to make fun of one another, so you shouldn’t take certain behaviors seriously. But if your friend makes mean jokes and demeaning comments “just for fun” over and over again, then it means that they just don’t respect you.
You need to learn to recognize people who thrive on putting others down. Listen to your feelings when you hang out with a negative friend or co-worker. If you doubt yourself and feel small and silly in their company, then distancing yourself from them is the best idea.
5. They are dream killers
Making dreams and plans is what motivates you to become a better person and move forward in life. Maybe you seek to fulfill your purpose or turn your hobby into a job. You begin to believe in yourself and your dreams are getting more and more tangible.
But all your aspirations can be easily shattered by a single person’s negativity.
For example, your overly critical and negative parents may convince you that you should ‘drop the nonsense’ and follow your brother’s example in choosing a profession. They say you should study to be a physician, just like he did. But you know that this is not what you would like to do with your life.
Still, your parents’ words plant doubts in your mind and you begin to question your dreams and, ultimately, yourself.
What if I fail? What if my idea is stupid? Maybe it’s better to do what they say?
Conforming to others’ expectations is one of the greatest regrets people have. That’s why you should stay away from negative people who mock your dreams and aspirations.
6. They belittle your achievements
Negative people don’t just kill your dreams, but they also diminish what you’ve already accomplished in life.
Negativity can stem from many different sources. Oftentimes, someone with a negative attitude is just bitter and envious of others.
They feel like life has been unfair to them because they don’t have what other people do. So, they prefer to dwell on negativity and criticism because it distracts them from their own failures.
Negative people of this type can get passive-aggressive and make you feel guilty about your achievements. They are just unable to be happy for you.
For instance, you are telling your cousin about the promotion you got. Instead of saying some kind words to congratulate you, he begins to moan about his job and the evil guys who stopped him from getting a promotion too.
A negative person often makes passive-aggressive remarks about someone else’s success, for example:
Well-done. I wish I had such an opportunity when I was younger.
Good for you. Not everyone is that lucky.
No need to say that these kinds of comments take away the power of your success, no matter how big it is. You suddenly feel stupid and humbled, like what you achieved is not a big deal.
That’s why it’s a good idea to stay away from negative people who belittle your accomplishments.
7. They stop you from enjoying life
Do you have a person in your life whose presence is exhausting? You feel tired after spending time with them and they seem to take away all the fun from any social gathering.
Maybe they are too dry, judgmental, or bitter. Maybe they speak ill of others all the time or focus on negatives in any situation. Sometimes you can’t even put a finger on the behavior or trait that makes such individuals so draining. In any case, they bring everyone down.
Staying away from negative people makes sense when you feel tired and empty after hanging out with them.
These personalities don’t bring anything valuable to your life, so you’d better distance yourself from them before they poison you with their negativity. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who don’t let you enjoy it.
What to Keep in Mind When Distancing Yourself from Negative People
It’s easy to burn bridges, but it’s important to consider a few things before cutting ties with a negative person in your life.
As we said above, negativity can have many different roots. And sometimes people don’t mean to be bitter – they are just going through a tough time and are dealing with issues of their own.
After all, it’s impossible to stay positive 24/7, unlike what many people believe. False positivity can be even more harmful than negativity, making you suppress your emotions and lose touch with reality.
It’s also important to differentiate between being realistic and being negative. Often, your friends or parents are just trying to save you from disappointment.
Therefore, you need to make sure that you don’t end up avoiding the truth in your attempt to stay away from negativity.
So, how to know the difference and figure out who should stay in your social circle and who should go?
Listen to your emotional responses when you are with someone. If they make you feel bad about yourself and pessimistic in general whenever you meet up with them, this is a strong sign that you should stay away from them.
It’s especially true when a friend or co-worker belittles you in any way, even if it’s supposed to be for fun or “for your own good”. They are clearly a bad influence, so it’s better to stay away from that negative person.
Otherwise, your friend’s pessimism is probably temporary, and instead of accusing them of being bitter, you should give them some emotional support and a listening ear.