“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem, for every solution.”
— Albert Einstein
We all have bad days. And we all go through losing streaks. This is why feeling negative emotions from time to time is completely normal.
However, some people are habitually negative and pessimistic.
As Bree Maloney mentions, negativity is often a product of depression, insecurity, or bad experiences. It can stem from illness, limiting beliefs, life events, and personality problems.
As many other things in life, negativity can become a habit.
Not to mention, it can be highly contagious.
This is why it’s essential to know how to identify people with a negative mindset.
Not necessarily to stay away from them — as that’s not always possible — but to give less importance to their words and not let them influence your thoughts.
Here are five things negative people tend to do often.
5 Habits of Negative People
1. They don’t value your good intentions
A friend of mine, Katia, is one of the most generous and genuine people I know. She is selfless, and she loves to make others smile — without expecting anything in return.
Sometimes she buys small gifts for her siblings, other times she does small things for her parents, like giving them a ride, or running errands with them.
She does these small nice things for her boyfriend Luke, too.
One day, I was at their place, and she had just bought some grocery for him, she wanted to give him a surprise.
Well, long story short, to my surprise, he didn’t react well.
He started to complain about the fact that the products she bought weren’t the ones he actually liked and said she should have told him she wanted to buy some things for him.
This is a perfect example of a negative person.
Not just because of how he treated Katia — which is obviously unacceptable, and that’s a whole other story — but because of how his mindset negatively affects his own life.
See, the problem with people like Luke is they struggle to see other people’s good intentions, and as a consequence, they miss the chance to feel grateful for the things and for the great people they have in their life.
And sometimes they even lose those great people, in the long run.
Recommended read: 4 Examples of Gaslighting — and How to Respond According to Experts
2. They complain all the time
Another thing I remember about Luke is how he replied any time you simply asked him “How are you?” He never had a positive answer. Never.
He always had something to complain about. Sometimes it was his job, sometimes his friends, other times his family.
We all have our struggles and our problems, and we all need to vent with our friends from time to time, that’s completely normal.
However, let’s be honest, if someone can never appreciate what they have in their life and have the habit of focusing on the negative, they definitely have something to work on.
Recommended read: 9 Relationship Red Flags You Should Never Ignore
3. If they disagree with you, they won’t even try to listen to your point of view
Luke had another habit I noticed — and couldn’t stand. Whenever he disagreed with someone, he didn’t even try to understand their point of view (because in his mind it was invalid).
Predictably, he had a difficult relationship with almost anyone — his parents, his brothers, and his (very few) friends.
Even with my friend Katia, who eventually broke up with him.
People who don’t listen to others, who don’t try to understand others and to see things from their perspective, tend to have difficult relationships. Conflict is a constant in their life.
And, as a result of their behavior, they never evolve.
4. They talk badly about others, always
We all know that person who talks badly about virtually anyone.
Even when they talk about the kindest and most genuine person they know, they’ll find something negative to mention.
As licensed therapist Leah Aguirre mentions, “People who criticize others often do it subconsciously — as a means of coping with their own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. Putting others down or talking about others behind their back, can make them feel temporarily superior and better off.”
Also, as licensed professional counselor Rebecca Phillips explains, “Gossip is often used as a way to bond with someone while putting another person down.”
Clearly this isn’t a healthy way to connect with someone.
First of all, because, as Phillips mentions, talking badly about others is inherently negative, and when you do it, you give off negative energy.
Second, because let’s be real, how can someone even trust you, if you consistently talk negatively about others? They’ll think you’ll probably do the same with them, sooner or later.
Recommended read: Reactive Abuse: Meaning, Signs and How to Respond
5. They play the victim
There are people who just can’t handle negative feedback. Even if you want to give them some constructive feedback, they’ll take it badly. Also, they never take responsibility for their behavior.
So, if you call them out on something they did, they’ll play the victim. Instead of seeing your feedback as an opportunity to grow and improve, they’ll blame someone else — or even you — and play the victim.
This pattern is also called victim mentality.
As explained in Healthline, the victim mentality rests on these three key beliefs:
- Bad things happen on a consistent basis;
- Other people or circumstances are to blame, always;
- Any efforts to change will fail, so there’s no point in trying.
The victim mentality is one of the main traits of negative people.
How to Deal with Negative People
It all boils down to this:
Negative people will always find the bad in everything and everyone – and focus on it.
Read that again.
If you do ten good things for them, but slightly offend them with just one behavior, they’ll focus on the only thing that upset them and they’ll dwell on it — completely forgetting all the positive things they could focus on.
Negativity is contagious, this is why, if you can, you should distance yourself from negative people and surround yourself with people who lift you up.
If you can’t distance yourself from a negative person, remember not to take everything they say personally, and don’t give too much importance to it.
That’s how you achieve peace of mind.
And that’s all you can do to stay positive and protect yourself from negativity.
Get access to exclusive self-improvement and relationships content, subscribe to my free newsletter here.