Humans are natural social creatures. Primitive man lived in tribes; hunting together, raising families together, and just surviving together. There’s power in numbers. As we evolved, things haven’t changed all that much. While it’s easier to be less directly connected with one another, that primal need for companionship is still ingrained in each of us.
Humans enjoy experiencing events with others—primarily others who are feeling the same way as us, rather than the opposite. For an example, if you’re watching a funny movie, it’s nice to share the laughs with a friend or family member. Or if you’re angry about the latest political headline, it’s nice to have someone else join you with their anger so that you can rage together.
At the end of the day, we all just want to be accepted by others. Acceptance and comfort tend to be found when we surround ourselves with people who share our views, beliefs, and even vices. The problem arises when you find yourself in the company of negatively minded, loudmouthed rubes. Suddenly, your subjective or collective experience can quickly turn into an endurance match.
Negative people are everywhere—they are unavoidable. You know exactly who I’m talking about. There’s a guy in every office across this country who can’t go 5 minutes without saying “fuck” or loudly complaining about something or someone. Their entire day is consumed with poorly crafted drama, long pauses for boring stories, exaggerations on rather mundane events, and then followed with even more negativity. They sometimes try to use words bigger than their intellect while conversing—typically botching the words intended use and thus making a total ass of themselves—to try and concoct a superior persona. In doing so, they fail in every aspect, except in their own minds. They often blanket their insecurities by feebly trying to make fun of others—which usually results in third-grade styled wording and prepubescent teasing.
It can be quite humorous to enjoy their antics from afar, but when they are positioned within relative close proximity to you for the bulk of the day, your mindset begins to get negative. Instead of reveling with them, you’re focused on how fun it would be to destroy them. When you get to that headspace, they have won the battle. It’s up to you, however, to win the war.
First, we must try and deconstruct what causes a person to be obnoxious or negative all of the time. We should also consider what causes people to intentionally lie and use gross exaggerations to make their lives seem so much more interesting than what it is. When we understand the backend, dealing with the frontend will be that much simpler.
In the vast majority of cases, negativity tends to have roots in some very deep-seated fears. The fear of being disrespected by others, the fear of not be liked/loved/accepted by others, and the fear that something bad is going to happen. These fears can cause a person to believe that everyone and everything is out to get them and that the entire world is working directly against them. In case of the pretentious types, the main fear is that of being inferior, unimportant, and being stuck on the outside looking in. For the people who lie or exaggerate, it’s normally a cover for an extremely boring or less-than average existence. When you have a combination of all 3—watch out!
It’s pretty easy to see how someone affected by the fears above tend to act the way they do. Whether they’ve been bullied, left out, or never studied in school, they tend to harbor fear of one or more of the above. The fear is manifested subconsciously through their external actions in everyday life. If a person has only ever known failure, making fun of the failures of other will give them some kind of relief. Their ability to operate in a paradigm of denial is what enables them to draw on the fears of others. They can bring the other people ‘under their wings’ and give them comfort—although the only person getting any real comfort is the original perpetrator.
Many of these people have a thin skin. They are incredibly judgmental. If someone doesn’t compliment them, they think that person is an idiot and deserves to be made fun of. They feel a sense of helplessness when trying to tackle challenges within their workplace or life, but love to dish-out copious amounts of anecdotal advice to others. They have a demanding nature. They are usually pessimistic about everything, holding a bleak outlook on the future. They have a major risk aversion, especially in social settings, thus having a reluctance to divulge information that could be used against them—leading to mundane conversations and superficial relationships. They have a need to control others—be it a girlfriend, wife, or coworker. They hold strong preferences on things like what type of cars people should drive or what type of gas or oil they should use, etc.
Most importantly, they have a strong tendency to blame external factors for their negative attitudes. They will blame the person down the hall, the guy across the building, the girl across the road, the environment, or luck—anything other than themselves. They hold onto this idea that, “If people only realized my true worth and people behaved like I want them to, the world would be a better place and I’d be a lot happier!”
It’s kind of weird—in a paradoxical kind of way—that negative people can manage to feel diffident about themselves and yet feel entitled to the respect, acceptance, and love from others. It’s because negative people do not feel respected or loved enough. They do not feel as though they are sufficiently in control of their own life. As a result, they demand attention from others, they demand respect, and seek to control other people.
Thinking about negative people from this angle clearly shows that their negativity is nothing more than a cry for help, just disguised in a very horrible way. What they fail to realize, however, is that being needy and controlling is hardly moving them in the right direction. They need psychological help more than anything else.
Some people have tried to deal with negatively-centric individuals in a horribly unproductive manner—by giving them respect, love, or the control they crave. Negativity is far more contagious than positivity. While you could, alternatively, twist the situation around and blast them back with your negativity, you don’t help the situation. Worst of all, providing critical feedback will only exacerbate. If homicide is illegal in your country, I suggest ignoring the person. By acknowledging it, you are giving another hit of the attention-drug and feeding them exactly what they want.
Most importantly, be mature. Be positive in yourself. Do not allow their negativity to infect your mind. You just need to exist. Knowing that you are fully secure in yourself, that you are respected by others, and that you are in control of your life is the greatest comfort you can take. Do not let their negativity get in your way of moving forward with positive momentum. While you are landing the next contract job or cashing the next paycheck, they will still be right there in that same exact miserable position—their respective trap. Remember to be authentic and spontaneous. When the negative person makes a skeptical or cynical comment—not if, when—sit back and enjoy the fact that you are awesome and they are just mentally cooked.