positive energy

I’m the kind of person who always tries to “look on the bright side of life.” I’ve linked that phrase to the Monty Python video of the same name. The imagery is quite absurd, but the message is so powerful you may wish to watch it.

"Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" conjures up some bizarre images about staying positive.

“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” conjures up some bizarre images about staying positive.

The message I’m choosing to share with you this week is the difficulty people like me face in life. We thrive on the positive attributes of a situation, of a place, of a person. We really DO look on the bright side of life. It brings us positive energy, and in turn … we try to light up the lives of others.

Does this sound like you?

What makes things really hard for us is the opposition we receive from the other camp. The people who, conversely, always look on the negative side of things. Do you know one of those? Might you be one of them?

You know who I’m describing. The person who always looks for the dark side of any story or situation. The person who (perhaps unwillingly or unknowingly) deflates your balloon, just when you’re flying high with the energy of a new idea, accomplishment or acquaintance.

How do you deal with them without losing your cool or without letting the positive energy drain from your very being?

It’s easy to answer that when you don’t live or work with that person. You can avoid them, change the subject, walk away.

But what do you do when positive meets negative under the same roof, within the same work cubicle, in the same family unit?

Let’s chat about this. I’m sure we can all learn one another. It’s never an easy situation to be in, but I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves there (on either side of the coin) at one time or another.

I’m looking forward to our discussion. And for those of you not interested in this topic, please join us here again the week of August 8th, when we’ll tackle a new subject.

And to end on a positive note, if you love animals and are looking for a smile, you will be sure to love this imagery: http://www.slothster.com/2352-Cat-On-Boat-Plays-With-Dolphins.html.

Cheers, and keep smiling.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

34 Responses

  1. Catherine Marynick says:

    Great blog post, Doreen!!

    I live with somebody who is negative about everything… complains about a cloud in the sky even! It is absolutely draining to deal with such a person. I have learned to totally block this person out. It is NOT an easy task and becomes quite draining. I do it by playing music in my mind, staring at an object near them but not at them to make it look like I'm paying attention but really not, imagining what I could be doing in my mind, or planning my next activities. It truly is the power of YOUR mind to block out negativity.

    Sometimes the subject they bring up needs some input and when I say my piece it leads to yelling, screaming, name calling. It angers me even more and now I have to use my "mind power" to suffocate what just happened and move on with my day before it gets consumed of negativity.

    The rare time I can't seem to overcome how this person ruined my day and I get caught in the trap of being moody and "bitchy" to put it that way.

    With pessimists, they spend so much time on the negative and crafted how to irritate people to put themselves on a pedestal. It is something they're lacking in their life and are mad when you have done something better than them. They know what they are doing and can't stand to see you enjoying life and will do anything to bring you down. It is truly a sad case for them.

    My best advice is to only comment when necessary and find a way to block them out that works for you if you can't get away from this person. I have had pessimists in my life that I was able to break away from and now they don't bother me anymore.

    Just remember YOU are the stronger person and THEY aspire to be like you.


  2. Kathe says:

    I wrote a comment and it evaporated. Argh. Anyway, I agree with Cathy above. It's the other person's problem – but sometimes knowing that doesn't help, especially when you're low on energy and can feel their negative energy dragging you down.

    I think of this as a Tigger vs. Eeyore problem. In my experience, the only real solution is to remove yourself from the person/situation in the short or long term. But often you can't. Then you just have to leave the room and vent to someone who will understand – I know you have a wide circle of friends, as I do (many of them the same people!).


  3. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks to Cathy and Kathe (two lovely people of the same name!) for starting the conversation.

    You both emit strong, positive energy and that is why I am drawn to you. Unfortunately, as you say and know, we cannot always control the thoughts and actions of others and the negativity can be so draining.

    I remember some very sage advice from the priest who taught the marriage preparation class that Eric and I attended in the 1970's. He said: "To be happy, surround yourselves with happy people." Simple, yet very wise advice that I live by to this day.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wow…. what a great post Doreen. Thanks for writing this and getting the dialogue going!

    I find that when I encounter these "Psychic Vampires" once I have emotionally acknowledged that it is their negative energy that now affecting my emotional well-being, I can now change the way I respond to that person.

    When it is someone close to me, I find that my personality (sometimes unknowingly) changes automatically from my past experiences with them – almost like how muscle memory works on repetitive tasks and once I become aware of the "metabolic change", I am able to now play out a script in my head that basically brings me to the realization that it is their problem, not mine. As well, I prime my brain to acknowledge that this person has likely got some prior trauma that caused them to be as they are and that they may not see things the same way as I do.

    Once I am able to program my brain to this, I am able to gear my thoughts neutralize their negative before it has a negative effect on my outlook.

    I as well I feel it is important to let that person know what they are doing as if I don't them I am letting them have a power over me that they seek, but by my informing them of what they are doing, I am able to break down that power. At times, (more than not) there is resistance and blame back to me, sometimes from others in that circle that are wioling to keep the status-quo so I end it there rather than argue which just opens the door to their negativity coming at me from another angle…trying to find a chinc in the armour to penetrate through.

    These negative people when close to me, remain in my inner circle as they truly have good in them, it's just that the past has programmed them to be as they now are. I cannot change them, only how I react to them. If the net bottom line is that they are emotionally draining, not able to put some delight in my life, I limit my exposure with them as I would have already brought to their attention that they are affecting me as they are, and if unwilling to dampen their negativity around me, I need to take care of myself first!

    Jeff Stern

  5. Suzanne says:

    First, that video is one of my faves. The cat looks just like one of our cats.

    I have a naysayer in my life. I have to be careful not to get mad but it's hard. I think it's my way of fighting it. I bring up the fact that they're being negative and they do listen.

    But they're entitled to their opinion. I just think that they can look at it differently and try to point out ways to do that. I try to bring positive things into their life for them to enjoy. In the end if they're not grasping on to the positive it's not my problem (well, it is if they're in the same house as you or a close relative, etc.) but I try not to pick up on the negative vibe. That's not easy. I'm starting to feel the negative taking over my life now. I have to work especially hard to shake it off.

    I think having links via social media helps so you can surround yourself with other people (virtually of course) or immerse yourself in other people's thoughts and share with them.

    In the end life is what you make it (as the cliche or song goes – I forget which). So keep smiling because I love being surrounded by all of you who bring positive energy to the room and I am glad that Doreen and Kathe are close friends with their sunshine surrounding me. Hope I can give some back.

  6. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Jeff, and Suzanne, for joining the conversation. You are both wise advisors who have played important roles in my life. I thank you for your encouragement and wise words, and for sharing them here.

    Jeff, I love that phrase "Psychic Vampires" – a scary but very real description. Yes, I know it's important to let that individual know how draining they are, but as you and Suzanne say, that is often met with aggressive opposition.

    My survival technique is to try and find something that can distract me from the negative, and I pick myself up. All of you sure help!

    Thanks and love,

  7. Virginia Heffernan says:

    At risk of lingering on the dark side, I think it depends on how you define negativity. Sometimes constructive criticism or realism can come across as negativity. This is not a reflection on your individual case, Doreen, because I know exactly what type of person you're talking about (I call them "The Underminers"), but a broader look at the concept of negative vs positive energy.

    I am wary of the positive psychology movement because all that pressure to be happy can mask underlying dysfunction and foster delusions. Chris Hedges in the "Empire of Illusion" uses the example of the FedEx worker who is compelled to say "Yes We Can" to every request, even as the corporate culture at FedEx is deteriorating, the workers are underpaid and without health insurance, and few feel that "can do" attitude. But there is no room for dissension because FedEx had branded itself a happy place to work and it you aren't happy there must be something wrong with you.

    A similar culture is seeping into our personal lives – i.e if you are not positive and upbeat all the time, it's your own fault if things don't turn out the way you imagined. There is a dark side to just about everything and sometimes it needs to be acknowledged in order for change to happen.

    I think this could be a very engaging debate, Doreen. Thanks for bringing it up.

  8. wizardofwords says:

    Thank YOU, Virginia, for always being the voice of reason in my life. It is the scientist in you who often brings out the logical voice of reason in a gentle, digestible fashion.

    You are quite right. There is indeed a negative side to everything (even if it may be small.) And I don't mind hearing about it or discussing it if it is presented in a positive fashion. (Is that an oxymoron?)

    But when a positive person such as me is enjoying a high moment, I feel it to be almost inhumane to get out the torpedo and shoot down the balloon before I even get to enjoy its beauty.

    There is a time and place for everything. Or as Leonard Cohen says, "There is a crack (a crack) in everything. That's how the light gets in." i.e. even deformities have a bright side.

    Let's keep this discussion rocking! Thanks, everyone.

  9. Virginia Heffernan says:

    I love that quote. Cohen is so wise about life and human nature. I remember when I first started listening to him, people called his work "music to slit your wrists by." I never understood that perspective because, to me, he was just telling it like it is in the most profoundly poetic way, pointing out the negative with beauty (as you suggest).

  10. Christine Peets says:

    I can sometimes be the most optimistic person, but I sometimes can be the most pessimistic–almost at the same time. Somwehere in there is the realist.

    My moods can get down and when they do, I can be bitchy, and I don't mean to be.

    Other times I get so excited about an idea and it is demoralizing to have someone bring in all of the negative things about the idea that I hadn't thought of. I want to say, "Can't you just let me have the good idea for a while and when I'm ready to work on it, then we can discuss the pros and cons." Or sometimes I've said (or want to say) "I don't want to hear the negative stuff right now."

    If that happens leaving the room is usually the best option until I am ready to hear the pros and cons.

    Sometimes when the negative stuff is top of mind, after a trip or an event, that might be the first thing I talk about–totally forgetting all of the good stuff. It sometimes take someone saying, "So did anything good happen?" to shake me out of that. I try–and I mean I do try–to catch myself when I start down that negative path.

    Disconnecting at least part of your brain from the negative energy and comments can also be useful, especially if you have to be in the same room with the negative person. I used to do this with my mother. She'd get into one of her depressive moves and start complaining about how awful she felt, how bad the day was going to be, etc. I'd listen as sympathetically as I could but part of my mind was "listening to my own music" by thinking about something else. I had a therapist recommend this as a way to not let my mother's depressive mood trigger one in me. She called it "conscious/unconscious mind response." Mom just needed to vent her depression, so I hoped that I was letting her do that but protecting myself from being sucked into her vortex.

    As Virginia says, negative stuff has its place and needs to be dealt with. It's finding the balance and not letting someone else's negative energy get you down that is the trick.

    Thanks for starting this discussion. There's been lots of great comments.

  11. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Christine, for joining the discussion.

    Your approach is the same as Cathy's. Let the person vent their negative energy, but don't focus on it and let it get into your inner core.

    That brings my memory of the feng shui bagua mirror to mind. It was given to me by a feng shui practitioner. The purpose is to reflect the negative person's negative/potentially harmful energy back to themselves and away from you.

    I tried this once when I was on a very difficult board and one individual always came to the table with a very dark energy that was disruptive to all. I had the baqua mirror in my purse under the table, facing him. And believe it or not … he was not negative that day, and soon after … left the board.

  12. dtrasler.com says:

    I find I'm often the negative person in my life, struggling with an apathy and negative attitude that's more debilitating than anything anyone else can throw at me. That's especially true at the moment, when I'm struggling with a scary fact – I haven't written any new plays this year. Not one, not even an outline. The resultant fear is causing me to suspend my blog in search of redemption. Unless I can prove something to MYSELF, there's no point in trying to impress anyone else, right?

  13. wizardofwords says:

    Hi Damian: Always great to hear from you.

    I think that sometimes, our creative minds need a rest — a break from the usual. You are giving your creativity a well-deserved break. Give it a time limit. i.e. "I will give myself a break from productivity/creativity until ?"

    After that … get tough with yourself and it will come! I often find that when I have a deadline (whether self-imposed or otherwise) my creativity will respond and do what it's supposed to do!

    Best wishes,

  14. Laura says:

    Most of my family are wet blankets this way. I've never found anything that works. But I keep myself going, not on track so much but heading in the direction of the track.

  15. Sandra McLeod Humphrey says:

    I tend to avoid negative people when I can because they drain my energy and stifle my optimism, but what works best for me when I find my spirit deflated by those around me is great music or immersion in my writing. Great topic!

  16. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for your comment, Laura, and for being the 170th member of the tribe. Write on!

    Thanks, also your your comment, Sandra. I totally agree! Music is quite the healer! I also find the great outdoors to be therapeutic as well. I spent a good deal of time outdoors today and it produced amazing results to my spirit. Please join us here again soon.

  17. Elle Andra-Warner says:

    Going for a walk is one of the best ways to get re-energized, to lift one's spirit. During a certain point in my life when I had to deal with negative vibes from a family member, I used to do a lot of walking (especially around a beautiful inner-city lake) and always found it lifted the stress, gave me clarity.

    The older (wiser?) I get, I find I'm not as patient with negative comments or people. While I've always been the kind of person who tries to counteract someone's negative comments with trying to get them to look at the positive, I'm more often now actually telling someone they are being negative – sometimes people don't realize they are.

    When I'm in situations where I do have to deal with negative people, I imagine being surrounded with "white light" that deflects their vibes and protects the dark from getting to me. Creative visualization but it works.

  18. wizardofwords says:

    Right on, Elle! We do what we have to in order to cope.

    Letting Mother Nature heal us is a terrific way to go.

    I'll try that while light technique the next time I find myself in a similar situation. Thanks!

  19. Satinka says:

    Speaking of “the positive psychology movement” I know of a negative religious group that COMMANDS its members to be happy. I know because I am an ex-member of said religious group. “The religion has the happiest people on earth!” is frequently heard from the platform. Doesn’t matter that half the women in the congregations are on anti-depressants because they are oppressed. The men too are becoming more depressed and it manifests itself in different ways: alcoholism, sexual predation of children, etc. The religion is deteriorating, even though it has “branded itself” as a happy people and if you aren’t happy, then it’s your fault. My blogs go right to the heart of the matter because I feel I must speak out about the corruption within the organization of which I have knowledge. My therapist often has me looking at my shadow side. It is where the best learning curves exist.

    Doreen, I think it is important for people to speak up about what they observe and perceive, even if it appears negative — and even if what we say makes us unpopular. The speaking out presents opportunities for dialogue. The dialogue helps us face life issues that we must face. It allows our soul to grow as we learn the lessons we came into this life to experience.

    Great topic for discussion!

  20. Pam Robertson says:

    I love Monty Python, so you did grab me right at the beginning of this post Darlene. In addition to what many of you say here about being positive and optimistic, there are times when we also have to get real with ourselves, but that doesn't mean we have to become negative.
    I like what Jack Canfield (one of the founders of Chicken Soup for the Soul) has to say: that you become the average of the five people you hang around with most. I take that to mean that as long as I hang out with mostly positive, optimistic people I like to be around, they will help to outweigh negative people I encounter. Besides, optimists live longer than pessimists, and I want to live to be a very old, healthy lady so that I can rest on my laurels eating chocolate and drinking good coffee.

  21. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for the comments, Esther and Pam.

    Esther, yes, conversation, dialogue, debate on issues is always healthy. I think it's just the approach that can be the contentious issue. We all need that moment of glow and elevation on occasion. So if we are skeptical or opposed to the thing that another is elated about, IMHO, it is proper to have that discussion at some later time, or if necessary at that specific time, with some delicacy and consideration of the other party's excitement or passion. I think I'll ask Jay, my favourite etiquette guy for a comment on that. Stay tuned!

    And welcome to the blog, Pam. Thanks, also for joining the "tribe!" We are getting quite the interesting group of people showing up regularly on this blog. Thanks to all of YOU. And yes, most of us are chocolate-loving lovers of life who enjoy a great cup of coffee!

    Love that quote from Jack C about us becoming like those we spend time with. So choose wisely, folks!

  22. Yvonne Perry says:

    Thank you all for sharing. My dad is a very negative person and he doesn't even realize it. I try my best not to let him get to me. Most of the time I succeed (thankfully, I don't have to live with him!) but last time he was at my house, I lost it with him and joined in, returning his grouchy energy in response. I felt so bad that I let him get to me–I wrote a book about being non-resistant and finding freedom from the detrimental energy of those around you–that I cried for over an hour once he left. Then, out comes the sage and my sensibility that I needed to forgive him AND myself.

    Next week is his birthday and I'm planning to go to his party. There will be enough of positive people around that I can interact with and not be submerged in his negativity. I don't want a repeat of last time!

    Thank you all for your comments. I'm going to watch that video now.

  23. etiquetteguy says:

    This is a very engaging conversation. There are a couple of words that come to mind which are at the core of this discussion. One is ego; another is compassion. I see a lot of egoic statements, a need to be right, to be heard, to be validated. The flip side of this is of course resisting being invalidated, unloved, dismissed, etc. Anytime our commitment is to avoid something or a feeling we don't like or want, we will have plenty of opportunities presented to us to avoid. When we are committed to accepting the feelings certain situations evoke, then we will be presented with those. That is how the universe works. It will always support you in whatever you are committed to. As far as compassion goes, we need more of it – both for others and for ourselves. We need to remember that we are all humans and we all have foibles. Do not judge yourself negatively for having feelings of doubt or regret or joy for that matter. From an etiquette stand point, remember to always put other people's feelings first. If we all did that, we would get out of the horrible downward spiral of bullying which is at the root of so many negative comments. Nor do we always need to be right. Nor do we need to stay in relationships where disrespect is the norm. We make our own choices. Why choose to stay in a bad relationship? We are responsible for ourselves and we can only change others by leading by example. So, give yourselves a shake and a break and be more aware of all of things in life for which you can be grateful. The more gratitude we show, the less negativity we will experience. Those are my random thoughts on this invigorating blog.

  24. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks, Yvonne and Jay, for joining in this truly engaging conversation.

    Yvonne: I can truly relate to what you are feeling. I have a family member who is inherently negative. I find that side of him doesn't come out at first, but after you're with him for an extended period of time, there is no stopping it. Alcohol seems to encourage it.

    Jay: I am so grateful for your insights. How I wish everyone played by your rules. If only we ALL put others first, very few of us would get hurt as we would be putting more thought into how our words would impact the other person. What satisfaction can anyone get from hurting someone else?

  25. Yvonne Perry says:

    Jay, if I had shown more compassion and thought of other's feelings I wouldn't have lashed out at my dad. Thanks for the reminder. I get another chance this week to do better!

  26. Mireille Theriault says:

    Hi Doreen,

    Unlike yourself who is definitely a 'lighter side' person, I have struggled to step away from the 'darker side' . From personal experience, I think negative thinking is a manifestation of FEAR for the most part, with a good portion of "I don't deserve to be happy, successful, etc) thrown in for good measure.
    That includes fear of failure as well as success (where we end up losing family, friends or our health in the bargain )
    That fear may have come from past experiences, but a lot of time it comes from what we've been told over and over again throughout our lives. I agree 100% that living under the same roof with a negative thinker can sap the energy out of the most optimistic person.
    For many people who seem dedicated to the 'dark side' I don't think it is about looking on the bright side, I think it's about gaining the confidence that whatever happens, we'll be able to handle it – possibly/ hopefully with help from our friends – but that we'll be OK. Only then can you live with confidence and embrace the 'lighter side' .
    As for myself… while I am in transition from the 'dark to light side' I find solace in the "far side". At least it's good for a few laughs!

  27. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks for the wonderful comment, Mireille, and for joining us here on the blog.

    I have known you for a number of years now, and have never seen you as a negative thinker. You do a good job in hiding it!

    Life is so much better on the bright side. It is encouraging, resourceful, and easier on your health! But as Virginia and others have mentioned, it must be tempered with a dose of realism. Keep focused and keep smiling, and it WILL happen!

  28. wizardofwords says:

    this week, subscriber Margaret Anne Fehr, is having trouble posting a comment. Sorry to anyone that happens to! I'm posting her wise and very insightful comment on her behalf!

    Margaret writes:
    "Lots of collective wisdom on this blog; another thing to be grateful for!
    I think that those who are negative confirm the misery loves company adage; there's a devilish bonding and venting that can come from such a coaltion but it never seems to last beyond the initial target.

    Office politics can be a hotbed of that kind of negativity and it really affects the workday in a destructive way. It's a group mentality that can infect everyone in ways they may never have considered on their own.
    As for the people in our immediate world, that's a tough one, because we are emotionally invested in them. we love them or aspects of them, and then we are confronted with what seems like very unloving behaviour- it's a cruel cut.

    The "why?" of it is so complex but at those moments when someone is spraying venom, it's wise to get out of their range.

    Focusing on the positive may almost be a cliche, but it does help. I've always been a book-a-holic since I was young and just reading about issues that others had to confront either in a biography or an outstanding fictional character helps. It gives perspective and the sense that none of us live a life without challenges that involve pain of some sort.

    My latest place of refuge or a just for fun read has been The Book of Awesome. It started as a blog and is now a book, the latest has been recently released. It lists everyday things that lift our spirits and it's not of the win a lottery kind of grandiose event: a cat purring on your lap, warm clothes from the dryer; peeling film off a new electronic device; the smell of the sidewalk after the rain. Some are so absurdly small and seemingly minor, but you know what, they're not. They are the very fabric of life and remind me and I'm sure others, that precious moments determine the quality of your life. It's not that we don't know these things at an intuitive level. We just have to be reminded is all!"

  29. AuthorKimberlyLB says:

    Hi Fellow Blog Jog Day Participant! I'm SOOO glad Carol gave me your link to post on my blog for today because I just love your blog postings!

    Doreen, you have given me strength today just from reading this one post about Negative Nancys and Nelsons. I just can't thank you enough for that strength. I unfortunately have a lot of negative people in my life and I also live with an energy sucker too.

    The wonderful advice given about focusing on something else while the person complains is something I'm going to try because I've been just adding to the mess by making dialog with the complainer.

    I'm so glad there are some positive people around that I breathe easy with! Thanks again for your post!

    Stay fabulous,

  30. wizardofwords says:

    Thanks so much, Kimberley, and thanks for joining the tribe! We're thrilled to have you here!

    Glad this post helped you. The advice received from members here sure helped me!

    Hope to see you here again soon, and good luck with Blog Jog Day!

  31. Sporadically Yours says:

    Hi Doreen, Found you on blogjog day! I will definitley be revisiting to read this entire thread. I wouldn't say I'm ever the bright spot in anyone's day but I am very familiar with those who have dampened my spirits. Just this week I had to tell a good friend of mine the truth about how she's been acting and the way it makes me feel. I feel bad for not being here for her vents but in a way, I can breathe if you know what I mean. I hope I have handled the situation correctly. I basically told her to practice some positivity and positive energy would return to her and that for now I was giving her some space. Anyway, I need to jog on..but I'll be back!

  32. wizardofwords says:

    Wish I knew your name, but thanks for your lovely comment, "Sporadically Yours" and for joining the tribe. I'll look forward to your future visits.

    You did the right thing in reminding your negative friend to try and find the light in dark situations. Some people always find the darkness, others look for the light no matter how distant it may seem. I'm happy to be one of the latter.


  33. wizardofwords says:

    We've had a tremendously helpful discussion on dealing with negative energy and its effect on those of us who are governed by the positive.

    I've just come across this post on the Belief.net site that gives us tips on how to deal with criticism (which is what much of our discussion stretched toward.) See the gallery of slides here: http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/2009/09/Coping-with-Criticism.aspx.

  34. WizardOfWords

    Yes, I’ve actually got a feng shui bagua mirror and have used it at meetings when sitting across the table from someone who is emitting excessively negative energy. It works!

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