Have I introduced our family cat? Meet Precious. A fitting name chosen by my son 10 years ago when we rescued her from a shelter. She is a quiet, fluffy, boss in our house. She is an introvert that doesn’t prefer the company of others. The only time I ever hear her make a sound is when she needs something or is on her way to the vet for her annual checkup. Yesterday I heard her protesting loudly. I looked everywhere for her making sure she wasn’t trapped in a bathroom or closet behind a closed door. Imagine my surprise when I found her in the living room seemingly fine. I checked her food and water, which was full as she prefers. And yet she was complaining. At a loss I called in back up…my son. He is the pet guru in our house. Whatever he did worked. Later I wondered if the cat even knew how to meow without sounding distressed because that is the only time she does. Perhaps this is her only “tone”.
Do you have someone in your life like this? Maybe a family member? Maybe someone at work or church? Maybe a parent of your child’s teammate, or someone on a committee with you? It’s always too hot, too cold, too loud, too quiet, too fast, too slow…you get the idea. Raise your hand if someone immediately popped into your mind! It can be exhausting to interact with this person. It can be hard to keep a positive attitude while being bombarded with complaints. I find it especially hard if I am tired or struggling with something.
How do you handle this person? How you do protect your mindset? Nothing is foolproof, but I have a couple of go to practices as a guardrail for my mindset.
When I encounter someone who has a perpetual negative outlook I follow these rules:
- I do not discuss my struggles with this person. This can be hard if this is someone you see daily, or a family member. If you are struggling this person will dramatize the situation and make it seem worse than it is and likely they will not stop talking about it. These are not helpful practices to overcome a struggle. (I will be doing a follow up post on this.)
- I limit my interaction with this person, don’t engage. I always have earbuds handy. I find these a very helpful tool when I am trying to limit my interaction with someone and can be used in most settings (other than church). I do not engage in the conversation. If I must add a comment, I make it brief and non-committal such as “I see.” I walk away as soon as possible. Boundaries are so important, and it is imperative to set and keep them. (I will be doing a follow up post on this.)
- I remind myself I am responsible for my mindset, no one else has authority here. What someone else thinks or says isn’t really my business and is a reflection of them, not me. This takes some repeating for me and isn’t always convincing, but I keep the mantra in my head until I do not feel the threat of negative thoughts seeping into my head space. (I will be doing a follow up post on this.)
This is not to say that I don’t have struggle, conflict, or obstacles in my daily life, who doesn’t. I want to face these with an action mindset to overcome or work through these situations. I cannot do this if I am carrying the negative emotional baggage of someone else. I must protect my head space and mindset if I want to live my life with purpose, joy, and ease. It’s a work in progress that takes daily practice!
If you need help with this visit my event page for the Women’s Day Retreat event I am hosting where we will be working on resetting our mindset so we can define goals and action plans to achieve those goals.