We all know the person who always spots the problems. 9 things right don’t matter… the one wrong is all they comment on.
The worst-case scenario is the only one. Everything someone does is viewed as bad.
It’s almost like they can’t wait to make the sharp comment or point out the problem.
Everyone else is enjoying the day out but they fume about every little thing, the waiter takes too long, to coffee was too hot, a wasp ruined things… what others let go in a second they hold onto and make the day about those issues, turning them into big problems in their head.
In relationships it can be disastrous. ‘They’re always nagging’, ‘they pick up on every little thing’, ‘the 1st answer to everything is no or how it will be a problem’, and so on. All this puts pressure on the relationship.
It’s frustrating to be around.
But that’s nothing compared to how miserable it is to live it.
Being stuck in that cycle of negativity and always seeing the problem is a normal aspect of anxiety.
Think of it this way, anxiety is a system designed to keep us safe. It does so by running everything through a filter of ‘where is the danger’. Every thought, interaction, situation etc., is analysed to see ‘what’s wrong here?’
That way any danger will be noticed, and we can run or fight or freeze as needed to survive it.
That’s useful in real life or death situations. In daily life it’s miserable, but the brain is not taking any chances. If it feels it should be looking for trouble it will put the effort in and it will find something to worry about.
Anxiety is just the fear system not shutting off. It can get stuck ‘on’ for years. For me it was on for over three decades. I had no idea what was happening. I was just stressed out and worrying all the time. Comparing myself to others, over analysing everything, imagining the worst in any situation. Life was tough.
Thankfully I got the help I needed, and everything changed for the better quickly.
But, for those decades I never knew why life was so tough. I just saw the negative and felt bad. That was life. Opportunity was never seen – only how it could fail, what were the problems, etc.
Knowing why something is happening and what to do about it are very different things.
Simply pointing out to people that they are negative rarely helps. Encouraging them to find ways to dial down the anxiety that’s driving the negativity can be a big help.
Some simple tools like mindfulness, hypnosis, exercise, and yoga can all get the self-preservation system to take a step back. For an hour or two after these sorts of activity the feelings of anxiety and negativity will be less for most people.
If suffering anxiety and negativity we can use these sorts of tools to make things easier. If we had an interview we were worried about it’ll be less fear-filled if we take the time to take a walk and do 5 minutes of mindfulness before we go to it.
If we’re visiting someone who’s very anxious and negative it might be an easier time if we suggest a walk and can get their self-preservation system to cool off a bit that way.
When dealing with anxious and negative people in our lives we may need strategies to manage the issues. If every visit turns into a row, then something needs to change. From re-evaluating how much of our time and energy we should be giving them, to seeing if they need help, to reducing our own stress to better manage being around them, here are different approaches.
It can be tough when it’s someone close like a parent, but if we’re just fighting all the time and both people are getting upset that isn’t helping anyone. Notice the pattern and see what can change.
Most people with anxiety don’t know that’s what going on. We feel lazy, not good enough, we run over everything in our heads, we feel worry, and we make negative comparisons. I never knew this was anxiety when I was doing it, even when it went on for years!
My advice is to gently offer options to people who are being very negative. Sound out if they worry a lot. Put information in front of them about treatments for anxiety. Try not to push, and don’t get sucked into taking ownership of their problems.
The only person who can change is the person suffering.
They have to engage with that. It has to be something they want.
Hope this helps someone.
If you’ve questions or comments, feel free to drop them below.
I’m always happy to talk about how life can improve so feel free to get in contact if you like.
Change is easier than you think.
Have a great week,