Do you feel discouraged by other’s negativity? Does your happiness trigger negative emotions in some people? What are the best ways to respond to people who bring you down and threaten your happiness?
“Ignore people who threaten your joy. Literally, ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.” – Alex Elle
For every person who seeks happiness, there is one who denies that it even exists. The very word triggers people, both on the gut level and the high plains of philosophy. As with every trigger subject, opinions form and rigidify quickly to a concrete wall.
This post does not attempt to break through anyone’s wall but instead offers support to those who feel discouraged by others’ negativity. It is hard enough to gain clarity about a complex matter. Then, in a variety of ways and for multiple reasons, come the people who trash your happiness.
Let’s find out how you could respond to some of them:
7 Ways To Respond to people who bring you down
1. Misery seeks company.
Should all members of your closest circle wish you happiness even when it escapes them, skip to the next point? For the rest of us, remember that rivalry is common, manifesting in feelings of annoyance, unreasonable demands, and incessant judgments.
The envious person does not usually think of herself as envious, but might roll her eyes when you laugh, sing, whistle, or share a success. Feeling left behind, a brother or colleague might change the subject or point out the negative every time you mention anything positive.
The possibilities for rivalry are endless and for you to figure out. Once you are aware, your response will have to start internally and may have to remain there.
Competitiveness is part of life. Nothing matters more than accepting the way things are. Let go and forgive. Think to yourself, “It is right and good to be happy, even when others have a hard time being happy themselves. I will be sensitive to their pain, but it will not stunt my growth. I will not hide my light under the bushel.”
Another rather primitive reaction to happiness is projection. Many civilized people—removed from nature and community, sedentary, sleep-deprived, intoxicated with simple carbohydrates—are unhappy. Depression and addiction to painkillers are on the rise. Many feel lonely. We see what we are.
While a person might bring forth a seemingly intellectual argument (“Happiness does not exist because of A, B, and C”), he might be informed by a dark cloud that doubts the existence of the sky. Instead of thinking, “My life is hard, and I feel doomed,” he might generalize and think that life is always hard, and that the whole human race, if not the entire universe, is doomed. Projections are, by definition, unconscious. It might be enough for you to know this to move on and embrace life.
Sometimes it is appropriate to point out the obvious and say, “Yes, life can be really tough, and many are doomed.” This true statement does two things: give relief to the unhappy person and create distance for you to become untangled from his hardship. The ability to relate constructively to others is the most important ingredient to happiness (see “The Ten Building Blocks of Connections” in A Unified Theory of Happiness). But nobody is served when you, too, feel doomed. If you take on the unhappy person’s depressed mood, you only add to the darkness in the world.
3. Repetition, repetition, repetition.
Even though your understanding of happiness is likely based on personal, complex learning, you will be subjected to tired expressions. For example, anybody remotely interested in the subject knows that happiness is not perpetually feeling good, but includes hard work, acceptance of failure, and sadness.
Discomfort, however, buffered by perspective, is part of a fully engaged life. Thoughts like these do not stop the “serious” critic, who must educate you. Be prepared to endure endlessly repeated “do-not-chase-the-rainbow” quotes. Keep in mind that copying others is a major method of learning, for all of us.
People prefer this method over thinking things through themselves. The response here must be simply: Patience, patience, patience.