How to Deal with Negativity

You know when you’re dealing with a negative influence – you feel drained after talking to them – annoyed, irritable, wishing you could go back by 200 years when there were no phones or emails. But of course, turning back time isn’t the answer to handling negativity :) but what is?

I’ll let you in on a little secret – Vairagya (no, not the blue pill ad you’re thinking about)

Vairagya is the yogic practice of detachment. Although the ultimate detachment is about renouncing the world, we can’t get to that place of inner retreat unless we practice it in small measures first. So let’s start with practicing it with our “negative” family and friends!

The reason I say “negative” in quotes is because no person is innately negative – we’re all on our own journeys, some through pain, some through suffering, and some through inquiry. However, when our energies clash, when we feel a dip in our energy levels after interacting with someone, when we feel a transfer of anxiety, anger or worry, that’s a sign for us to develop some detachment.


Here are 5 ways to deal with negativity:
#1.  Don’t take it personally!

What a person says is entirely their own perspective – and how you react is your own prerogative. You can respond with the same poison that they spew out, or you can look for the nugget of truth in their comment. If there’s no truth in it, then it’s not about you at all; if there’s some truth, then maybe look deeper within to see what you uncover.

#2. Anxiety-less separation

No matter who that person is – spouse, friend or colleague – if their influence feels negative, a bit of separation is good for both of you. Even though each of us feel like we’re our own separate entities, the energy around our entities is very fluid – when we’re too close to a person’s energy, we absorb some of it. On the flip side, the same is true for positive energy – so you might want to spend more time with people and projects that make you smile, learn or grow. This way, you get to learn and align with your purpose, rather than become a pawn in someone else’s.

#3 Go deeper

This is a trick I use a lot – I find that I can easily get past the negative / gossipy veneer when I ask people about their inner life, their soul’s longings. Obviously, use the words that seem right for the context, but when you detach from their topics, and redirect the conversations to go deeper, you suddenly see a different side of them that you might not have known existed.

#4 Be the change

But of course, this is my favorite – you’ve seen it many times from me. You really can’t change or control anyone but yourself. What works in the long run is to set an example. Create a world around you that you want to live in – create the excitement, positivity and change that you seek. Slowly but surely, the people around you will change when they’re influenced by your energy!

#5 Drop, Disengage, Detach

This goes back to Vairagya – which literally means becoming transparent – becoming free of distortion. The more transparent you become, the clearer the colors of your being. Let go of anything that feels dark, murky or negative, yes, even if it’s friends or family, if it’s necessary for your spiritual goals. But it doesn’t have to be dramatic – Vairagya is more an attitude than an actual disconnect. Practice it in your everyday conversations and you’re becoming a yogi on the go.

Did any of these 5 ways appeal to you in dealing with your own everyday world? If so, leave a comment to let me know. And if someone else you know needs this too, please share!

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12 thoughts on “How to Deal with Negativity

  1. Great article Saiisha, with a lot of useful tips. The one that particularly appeals to me is your #3 trick. I love that and am very interested to see what happens! :)

    • It works like a charm Catherine! People love talking about themselves, and if they know that there’s someone who cares to know and listen to how they really FEEL on the inside, it’s like a balm for their soul :)

  2. Thank you for this!!! The Tao says that the only way to end conflict is with love. I love the idea of delving to a deeper level with people and trying to really understand them.

    • That’s so true Niru – that the only way to end any conflict is with love; and the way we can love someone is by learning more about them, by being genuinely interested in them!

  3. Reading your posts is so fulfilling. Makes me want to go out and SHOUT OUT LOUD. You bring so much positivite energy in me and made me awakened. Thank you.

    • Oh Catherine, I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoy these posts and conversations. We really do learn and grow from the positive energy we surround ourselves with, don’t we!? Thank you for your kind comment!

  4. Your post hit the right nail on my head as I am dealing with this negative energy from people, who we think as our own, unfortunately. The point #5 resonates with me as I am adopting this strategy to overcome the negativity and considerably successful, though its a long way to go… :)

    • You’ll need somewhat of a thick skin to be able to practice #5 Kaven :) The natural problem with sensitive people is that they’re hurt so easily; but as we grow in our spiritual path, one of the important lessons we’ll need to learn is Sthithaprajnata ( which is to learn to become emotionally stable. Our loved ones, unintentionally of course, are providing us experiences to help us learn this particular lesson, if you can see it ;)

  5. Thanks for the timely post Saiisha! Right on the mark for a bad case of cabin fever I’ve been feeling. All of your exercises will help and I like Niru’s recommendation too. Realize their limitations, compassion.

    When I’m most influenced by any negativity that’s about, whether family, noise from the TV, comments on the internet, or revving motorcycles, it truly is when I’m open and my defenses are down. Or, alternatively when ill or just plain tired of keeping my defenses up.

    Another tool that has been helpful personally has been exercise, yoga, meditation, hard labor (splitting wood), anything that works to reunify body and mind. I’ve also been known to put in earplugs but they are not comfortable long term :-) You’re wise and kind.

    • That’s a great recommendation Nick – exercise, yoga, splitting wood, etc. Reminds me of Tony Robbins’ teaching that “energized movement can change your state of mind.” Keeping up our defenses is so tiring, isn’t it?

      Thanks for adding to the conversation!

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