By: Emily Roberts, MA, LPC; Guest Blogger
Do you have that friend? You know the one who you love to pieces but who is just so draining? I do, I and used to let their negative energy suck the life out of me. The thing is, relationships of all forms are an exchange of energy. When you friend is a “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy” their bad vibes rub off on you too. For me, I didn’t just feel bad when we hangout, even afterwards the negativity lingered and left me feeling emotionally exhausted.
How to Protect Yourself from Negative People
Look at all of these relationships as assignments. What are you learning about yourself through your interactions? The truth is, I was afraid to put up boundaries because I didn’t want to be a “bad friend.” When I began to identify the negative people and set boundaries my relationship with myself became super positive and interestingly enough, my friends respected me more.
There are three types of friends that suck the energy out of you:
The complainer. This is the girl or guy in your life that looks at the glass half empty. Maybe you’re out to dinner and enjoying the scene, when they point out that they hate the service. That hadn’t even entered your mind but now you start focusing on it too. They tend to express their negativity because that’s how they are feeling about themselves. They don’t feel positive about their lives so they look for other things to reinforce the belief that life sucks.
What to do: Zip up before you hangout. Literally zip up you imaginary Vince Motercycle jacket (or whatever appeals to you) and feel like badass—like no negative vibes can even come close to killing your mood. Say to yourself “I’m a magnet for positive energy.”
Another tip, try validating their complaint but add in something constructive to change the flow of the conversation. “The waitress is a bit slow, but the music rocks!” It will make everyone more positive.
The gossiper. She’s known for knowing the scoop and telling everyone. If someone gossips to you, they probably gossip about you. You give in because you’re afraid of what she’ll say behind your back. Fear keeps you engaged and absorbed in her negative vibes.
What to do: Wean off the need for too much information. Instead of egging her on try to shut down the convo. “OMG did you see what she posted on Instagram? She’s so desperate.” She says. You can respond with “Hey did you hear about that new ______ (fill in the blank with something in the news, upcoming plans or blog you’re loving).” The lack she sees in herself creates the need to look for and talk about the lack in others. You actually help her when you fill the conversation with positive or neutral content.
The drama queen. Boy, do I know this friend well. This is the friend that always has a crisis. Like she’s a sh*t magnet or something. This really sucks for her, but you’re not her 24/7 therapist. It made me resentful and really more negative about stuff in my own life.
What to do: Fight the urge to rescue her and set boundaries, like don’t text back right away. She may send you 10 more texts making you feel guilty but you’ve got to put yourself first or her drama will feel like your drama. Trust me.
So remember, zip up ladies! Let your positive energy radiate to everyone you encounter.
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Emily Roberts is a licensed psychotherapist specializing in working with girls and women. Also known as The Guidance Girl , Emily has made it her career to help others feel confident in the skin they’re in. She and her dog fluffy dog Milo split their time between the busy streets of New York City and Austin, Texas. Emily is also the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are, out June 2015. You can reach out to Emily on her Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.