There’s no denying it: families are complicated, especially if they don’t get together very often, or there’s an eclectic group of opinions at the dinner table. Sometimes, the holidays can be taxing, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and drained. If you’ve spent time cultivating a self-care routine or have been prioritizing your mindset and personal growth, then dealing with negative people during the holidays may be especially challenging for you. 

The holidays take us away from our routines, habits, and rituals. Our sleep schedule may be off, our morning routine may have been kicked to the curb, and we could find ourselves travelling more. When our days are thrown off, the things we do for ourselves are typically the first thing to go, and the foundation we laid may be a little wonky. Without a strong foundation, we may find being around difficult people to be more challenging. 

Today we’re going to mainly focus on dealing with difficult situations, specifically with negative people.

Also read: 10 Ways To Deal With A Difficult Family Member During The Holidays

How do negative people impact us?

Being around people who are constantly negative can feel daunting, overwhelming, and draining for several reasons, but today, we’re going to focus on the impact it has on our mindset.

Your mindset influences everything you do. It influences the decisions you make, the goals you have, and the aspirations you work toward. It has this super big job of determining what you believe you can and can’t do.

How does it work? The more you think about something, the more your brain will believe it is true, and the more you’ll look for confirmations. But this doesn’t just apply to go the good stuff. Since this is happening on a subconscious level, you likely won’t even realize it’s happening.

For example, if you constantly tell yourself that you’re forgetful, even if it’s as a joke, your brain will start to look to confirm. You may find you’re losing your keys when they’re on the table in front of you or in your hand. Or, if you constantly tell yourself that you’re bad at math, you may find yourself going out the night before a big test instead of studying. And remember, this is all happening subconsciously, so it’s not always clear what is happening.

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Being around constant negativity can be tough on our mindset. When we’re actively working on ourselves and bettering our lives, it can be tough being around people who plant limiting beliefs into our minds. They may get us focused on all of the bad things going on around us to convince us that the economy is too awful for our new business or make us believe that all the good ideas are taken.

It can make us doubt ourselves or question our capabilities.

A little negativity is perfectly normal, healthy, and nothing to be feared at all, so please don’t think you need to be constantly happy or positive. But when it becomes a constant thing, or when we repeatedly leave feeling overwhelmed or drained, then we may feel like we want to set up safety nets to protect our mindset. Especially since we know that seeing negative people during the holidays is temporary.

Negative People During The Holidays
Image by: Nicole Michalou // Pexels
Negative people

Again, some negativity is totally normal and healthy. Today isn’t about the person who brings up once about being unhappy at work or tells a story about something bad that happened to them this year. The type of negative person we’re referring to today includes:

  • the person who always complains
  • the person who always needs to one-up you
  • the person who always finds a problem with everything
  • the person who is stuck in the past/still thinks of you as your younger self
  • the person who always wants to pick a fight about everything and anything
  • the person who doesn’t believe in you/support you, and leaves you doubting yourself
  • the person who always wants to gossip or discuss other people (especially if they aren’t there)
  • the person who never goes after their own dreams but always criticizes others for pursuing theirs
  • the person who is only there for you when you’re struggling, but not ever there when you’re thriving

This is a consistent pattern of behaviour rather than a one-off comment or remark.

Processing our feelings and emotions isn’t always the easiest task. From a young age, a lot of people are told to suck it up, deal with it, or simply be happy at the first sight of any sort of negative or uncomfortable feelings. This means that a lot of people haven’t exactly gained the tools to process these feelings and move on from them. When these feelings aren’t processed, they often get buried and don’t always come out in the best way.

Most people don’t necessarily set out to be negative, so there could be several reasons why they are. They may not get regular validation or approval for how they feel in their everyday life, or may not have a supportive person to talk to in general, so they jump on the first opportunity to talk about things. They could also be self-conscious or insecure about something (possibly without even realizing), and instead of processing that feeling, they’ve pushed it down and it comes out in negativity and anger. Or, they may just find it easier to bond with someone over the negatives as it allows them to share a common enemy. There are countless reasons why someone may be negative, and chances are they’re not even aware of it. 

Being aware that there may be a deeper issue can help us understand that there may be more going on, but it doesn’t change the fact that we may still need to protect our own energy while together. You can be compassionate while being mindful of your own needs and not engaging in the behaviour yourself. 

So, with all of that said, let’s talk about dealing with negative people during the holidays.

Negative People During The Holidays
Image by: Nicole Michalou // Pexels

6 Tips For Dealing With Negative People During The Holidays

1. Set boundaries

One of the best ways to deal with negative people during the holidays is to set boundaries from the beginning. Depending on who this person is and what your relationship with them is like, this could look like a few different things:

i: You can avoid topics that you know are particularly triggering (politics, religion, the business you want to launch, etc.). Sometimes it’s enough to just avoid the topic altogether, but can be tricky if someone else brings it up instead. 

ii: You can speak up when something comes up and say that you don’t feel comfortable talking about. For example, if someone is making comments on your body or your plate of food, you may choose to have a statement prepared, such as “it makes me uncomfortable when you talk about my body so I’ll ask that you don’t do that tonight.”

iii: Set the intention at the beginning that you don’t want to talk about the topic. This option is good if you know a particular topic always comes up that you find uncomfortable. This option may feel difficult, so do it in a way that works for you. Either let the person know at the beginning that you don’t want to discuss it or tell someone you trust (such as a sibling or your spouse) that you don’t feel comfortable talking about it. If the conversation comes up, they can help you steer the conversation away. Someone may not know that something bothers unless we explicitly tell them, so sometimes it’s best to be honest and upfront. 

2. Don’t engage

You don’t need to participate in every conversation – if someone is being negative, you’re allowed to sit there in silence. This is a less confrontational option than the other ones we’re going to discuss, and it allows the other person to get something off their chest. When we engage in a conversation, we’re putting more of our energy into it, which may leave you feeling more drained. While sitting in silence may not stop the conversation from happening, it can still act as a barrier between you and the conversation. This is much easier to do if other people are around, but it’s still possible to do one-on-one. Be prepared that it may get uncomfortable, but stay dedicated to your needs. 

3. Engage without validating

Alternatively, you can also try engaging without validating – this is a bit kinder of an approach. Sometimes, people just like to complain – especially if they’re struggling in their personal lives or don’t have a supportive person to talk to regularly. Provided they aren’t being harmful or disrespectful to themselves, yourself or others, one option is to just be kind and supportive. Try saying phrases like, “that must have been really tough for you” or “I’m sorry you had to go through that.”

4. Don’t take it personally

Sometimes you just need to take a step back and remember that it isn’t about you. People tend to put their own limiting beliefs onto other people, places and things, often without realizing it. This isn’t exactly the nicest thing in the world, nor does it take away the impact it has on you, but it can be helpful to remember. Our own experiences are not the same as the experiences of others – everyone has a story.

5. Pay attention to your own limiting beliefs

Pay attention to the feelings that come up for you – is there something that needs to be worked through? The thing about working on ourselves is that just as we think we’ve unpacked something that’s buried for us, something else comes up. Try to investigate these feelings to see if there is something bigger going on. Are you engaging in negative conversations because you are subconsciously looking for a confirmation that you are not good enough? Did you tell someone about your new business venture because you subconsciously want them to tell you that it is a bad idea? Did something upset you because you subconsciously believe it is true? This isn’t to say to dwell on your feelings or emotions – just pay attention to what comes up, and remember that it’s okay to seek out professional help if you need it.

6. Offer up an alternative perspective

If you are interested in having a healthy conversation with someone, you can also offer up an alternative. Remember that people are generally more receptive to feedback when it’s kind and respectful. However, if someone is spreading hate, misinformation, lies, etc., then of course an option is to stand up for what you believe in.

6 Tips For Dealing With Negative People During The Holidays